To a person of 17 or 18 years old today, the significance of the case, but more so the verdict probably has no meaning to them. I can dare say that like that day in November of 1963, very few Americans can forget where they were the day of the OJ Simpson verdict.
I know I won’t.
Word came out that the verdict was going to be announced at 10:00 am. This was a case that some of everyone had an opinion about. I remember being on a bus when I asked a chick “So what do you think of the OJ trial so far?” The next thing I knew everybody on the bus had an opinion, it was the damnest thing I had ever seen.
If you wanted to see two people argue in the mid 90’s all you had to do was invoke the name of OJ Simpson and then kick back and watch the battles begin. I worked at the James River Corp. and every morning these two guys named Charlie and Ted would go toe to toe over the case.
But what was the big deal about OJ?
In his heyday Orenthal James Simpson was one of the most recognizable figures of his era. He was a football star, a movie star, a sportscaster and if you didn’t know him for all of those things then you probably saw him on TV commercials running through airports for Hertz Rent a car.
He was the first black athlete to truly transcend race. He was polished, intelligent, articulate, good looking and knew how to present himself. He was accepted into circles that the average black athlete couldn’t get into.
And he had his pick of white women.
So here it is 1994 Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson Brown were found dead in her walkway.
The media reports said, “OJ Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend have been found murdered.” No one suspected OJ of anything at that point. But as the days went by, media speculation began to grow as to who could’ve committed these murders. And then slowly, very slowly you started to hear OJ’s name mentioned one too many times. And then all fingers started pointing directly his way.
Everybody had a theory as to how and why OJ would kill his wife and her friend. One guy said, "Hey man, I hear he was paying thousands of dollars a month in child support. That alone would be reason enough for me to kill her." Another guy said, "OJ saw Nicole having sex with one of his home boys...hell I'd wanna kill her too!"
And I can't forget the infamous scuba diving suit that OJ was supposed to have worn during the murders. Like someone is gonna miss a big black guy in a scuba diving suit?
When the announcement was made that OJ Simpson was a fugitive the world went into shock. Because after all, if you run, you must be guilty, right? Hours later TV cameras picked up OJ in the infamous white Bronco in the slow speed chase down the 405 freeway. Every station in America tuned into that slow speed chase! Hell, they interrupted the NBA finals to follow the chase.
As the months went by speculation went back and forth as to whether Simpson was innocent or guilty.
But there was one day in the trial that will always stand out with me. From the very beginning I thought he was guilty, but when he tried that glove on…hmmmm…it doesn’t fit.
The late Johnny Cochran said it best: “If it doesn’t fit – you must acquit!”
That resonated with me, because that was the only physical evidence they really had, the bloody glove and the drops of blood in the Bronco.
So there it was October 3rd 1995 at 10:00. The TV cameras were zeroed in on the courtroom clock. I worked on the third floor at 300 Lakeside Dr. There was a TV in my break area. I had no idea until that day as to how many people in that building knew that there was a TV in my break area. Everyone came running in.
Judge Lance Ito took the stand and had the jurors led into the court. Turns out the jurors had only deliberated for three hours the day before. There was a sense that if the verdict went the wrong way that the shit was going to hit the fan.
OJ was asked to stand and fact the jury before the verdict was read. I bet he could’ve shit in his pants at that moment.
The counts were read: Not guilty on all counts.
There was shock all over the country
Damn near everyone in my break room cheered. Those that didn’t cheer were upset.
The same scene was played out all over the country.
For years the debate would rage: How did OJ get off?
Now OJ is releasing a book called “If I Did it…” in which he doesn’t admit guilt but he says, “Nobody knows this case like I do. I’m going to tell you a story that you’ve never heard before.”
His publisher Judith Regan considers this book a confession.
What on Earth would make this man who has denied any knowledge or involvement in those murders write something like this now? Maybe he’s toying with us. Or maybe he really did do it.