The O.J. Verdict
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join the discussion: What are your thoughts on the Simpson case and Americans' racially divided  reaction to the verdict? Ten years later, has your perspective on it changed?

Dear FRONTLINE,

... I think its very sad that even the most intelligent minds in white america cannot face the fact that all is not well between the races. Race is an issue that white america is unable or unwilling to face. It's a classic denial tactic. We, millions of minority americans, are imagining inequality in America. Who's really being irrational here? White America must ignore these facts and collectively hold on for dear life to their denial of it's existance because for them to take off their blinders and admit the truth of the matter, it would expose them for what they are. It would mean that they are the ones who are uncivilized.

Dee Rideout
Jonesboro, Georgia

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a white male police officer. I wanted to give you my perspective and I want to be as honest as possible. I've encountered racism on the force and I deal with my own racism. There was a time in my life when I let my racism consume me. While undeniably there is police brutality it should also be noted that white police officers go into black neighborhoods and risk their lifes on a daily bases to fight domestic violence, gang violence, epidemic drug trafficing and general black on black crime. I've been called plenty of hurtful names in the black community, I've been spit at, I've been hit, I've been sneered at. It's not a big deal, it comes with the job and I'm certainly not perfect. Although black people were cheering at the O.J. Simpson verdict because they felt they were vindicated for past wrongs they were also demonstrating their own hypocricy, racism and sadism. If you live in a glass house don't throw stones. I don't make excuses for black lynchings or white on black hate crimes because and I don't use such crimes to feel vindicated for all those times a black person beat me up or made fun of me. Why do white liberals expect morally less from black people as they do from themselves? I felt the Frontline special on the Simpson case was slanted through a filter of white guilt and by neglecting other points of view was more patronizing than insightful and helpful to the black community.

Richard Heger
Chicago, Illinois

Dear FRONTLINE,

...The trial became a metaphor for how America deals with celebrity, money, power, justice and most importantly, race. In the same way that white America didn't grasp the underlying roots of Mr. Simpson's acquittal, black America has not grasped the damage the verdict wrought on race relations to this day. Black Americans won the battle but lost the war on October 3rd 1995. Was justice served?

Frederick Clifford Jr.
Town and Country, MO

Dear FRONTLINE,

The worse aspect of the OJ Simpson trial, which caused white and black reactions to the final verdict to the criminal trial, was that most people who had strong opinions on the case didn't bother to listen to all of the evidence in the light of legal tests for: means; motive; opportunity; and police and laboratory handling of DNA evidence.

Even PBS put this trial in terms of black vs. white, while ignoring cumulative doubts raised by Simpson's defense team, which revealed in many ways that OJ Simpson wasn't physically capable of committing murder against both Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman, in the time, place, and manner in which the prosection insisted, and failed to prove, that he had.

I watched the whole trial. The jury listened to all of the evidence- prosecution and defense, just as I did, so they had very little choice but to bring back a Not Guilty verdict.

Carolyn Jane Gillis
Fitchburg, WI

Dear FRONTLINE,

Well what made me think watching this program was that how some of the Black people spoke as if it was a justice for them and they spoke as if OJ was a white hero who fell from our respect. They (blacks) feel it was justice but I think they were fooled also because OJ was everything that most of them could never be. He was simply a very rich man who beat the system. Why not do a show to see how many blacks have actually had anything change for them. I bet it is for them as it was before this horrible crime was ever committed. The one thing that has not changed is that if you are poor and indicted you most likely go to prison, but if you are rich you go free, black or white.

Jeffrey Wertz

Dear FRONTLINE,

Exactly what did PBS hope to accomplish with the Simpson broadcast? Clips featuring the recitation of half-truths and complete falsehoods by those with no knowledge of the facts of the case serves no purpose. Simply reminding us that there was a racial component to the case serves no purpose, either. Perhaps you should have simply pointed-out that an African American of means can now game the system as successfully as a rich Caucasian, and smugly pointed-out how this is a sign of racial progress.

Why not focus on the real issues in the case, and give them some credence -- such as the prosecution's bowing to political pressures to hold the trial in Downtown LA -- and a belief that an African American jury would give the verdict "more credibility"? Or the missteps of the inexperienced prosecution team, themselves byproducts of an affirmative action system that rewards race and gender more than experience? Or of the jury's role in the case, where the defense's strategy was to select jurors that were black and uneducated? Or an analysis of the jury's actions in their own right -- all reports show that they took virtually no notes, looked down at the floor for the entire trial, and deliberated for only hours and requested a review of virtually no evidence. Are these facts less important than the racial elements of the case?

In my own travels, I have found that one's belief in Simpson's guilt has much less to do with race than it does with intelligence -- those who live in the world of sound bites and conspiracy theories, as you promulgated this evening, continue to believe in his innocence. Those intelligent enough to read the facts of the case are understandably convinced of his guilt. PBS should be ashamed of the purfunctory treatment that they gave to this case tonight.

Doug Klippel Klippel
Jacksonville, FL

Dear FRONTLINE,

There are few things that get my "Irish" up like the OJ case even after all these years. I am astounded that you felt that it was appropriate to bring up this distinct failure of our judical system at this time. Could it be because you see a "racial" factor in the Katrina debacle? Race had nothing to do with either..and to try to persuade the American public that either did is a travesty.

OJ Simpson got away with the brutal murder of two human beings. He is living a life without prosecution and without remorse. He will find his reward when he meets the eyes of his children's children not to mention his maker.

How can self respecting African Americans hold him as any kind of hero?

I usually enjoy PBS and especially Frontline but i must tell you this was a very one sided progam.

Mary Hall
Columbus, OH

Dear FRONTLINE,

First of all, two people were murdered and that is tragic. However; all the talk about blood evidence was not fully explained. No one yet has explained the 1.5 ml of blood that was missing from the vial taken by the male nurse. He swore under oath that he had taken 8 ml, yet only 6.5 was in the vial. Also on June-th, a picture of a gate was taken with blood on it.

Two or three weeks later another picture of the same gate was takin with a large drop of O. Js. blood on the gate with an excess amount of blood preservative in it. One glove at the crime scene was dry and the glove at O. Js.residence was wet and sticky. This occured under the same weather conditions according to a Los Angeles weather report. As far as the racial divide in this country, it didnt come about as a result of the Brown/Goldman murder trial. It's been around since about 1620AD

Ronald Meade
Connellsville, Pennsylvania

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched the O.J. Simpson verdict on PBS tonight and wonder why after ten years it was brought back to the forefront of discussion. I can only surmise there are those who still have a hard time accepting or believing that a black man got away with murder, as so many have proclaimed. How dare this happen in America!!

I was deglighted to see the statements made that the real reason for black people celebrating this verdict was not for O.J. personally, but rather, for all the injustices black people have endured through the years.

It's amazing to see the outrage and anger of those who were stunned by this verdict. Just as the black race was joyful of the verdict, the white race was insulted simply because they've always thought they were superior to other races, and what they normally took for granted would never be privy to a black person.

Ironic isn't it, when the shoe is on the other foot how uncomfortable it is. Imagine living like that day to day.

G. Gaythos
Marietta, Georgia

Dear FRONTLINE,

To determine if the OJ trial and verdict had racial implications, you need only to look at the statistics taken, even today. White people think the trial wasn't racist in nature, and Black people think that that was the nature of the trial. We are still a country severely divided.

However, two points to make.

After 4 little girls were killed, even though there was proven evidence, the white man who did it was not even brought to trial. The White men who killed 3 civil rights workers were given an inoccent verdict even with an FBI witness. Jury nullification before it was popular. Two men killed in front of witnesses and the killer only got 5 years in jail. What was said from White people in these cases was that "Our justice system isn't perfect,but it's the best in the world." A Black man actually achieves equal justice in these same courts, White people believes that the justice system needs overhaul. No, there is no racial bias in that.

Johnny Cochran is always criticized for playing the race card. White people play the race card with discriminatory practices, (the darkening of OJ), then gets upset when someone calls them on it. This was a trial of history for Black America, as it confirms that no matter how weak or corrupted the evidence, a Black Man is guilty, period. Cochran had the courage to speak up and be honest about the situation.

Frank Thompson
Tucson, Az

Dear FRONTLINE,

Charles Ogletree is wrong in one respect. Some people's minds (mine in particular) has changed since the OJ verdict. I'm white and initially, I believed the so-called "race card" was a red herring in the case. I have since become a paralegal in a criminal defense firm and have seen personally, all too frequently, that police lie to make their cases.

What's more, police do treat blacks much more unfairly than whites. In Milwaukee, blacks are shot by police on an all-too-regular basis. "Ooops, I thought he had a gun." (It was a wallet.) "I shot him in the back (11 times) because he was driving his car at me." Blacks are far less likely to get out on bail than whites. Judges overlook incredible inconsistencies in order to accept the credibility of a cop over a defendant, especially a black defendant. When officers are found to be exaggerating to enhance their case, are they ever prosecuted for perjury? Why not!

I believe OJ was guilty. As was so profoundly observed, the LA cops framed a guilty man. But the prosecution, and especially the LAPD, deserved to lose that case! They had apparently tolerated racism and evidence planting too often in the past. It is true "justice" that those same practices should bite them back and in such a public way.

I wish the american people, as well as judges and especially appellate courts, would remember that the Framers of our Constitution believed government is inherently evil and untrustworthy. After all, the individuals who make up our government all have human natures which drive them to want to win, sometimes at any cost. In other words, the end justifies the means. Therefore, the Constitution was conceived as a vehicle to protect citizens FROM their government.

Look at all of the people on death row who have since been obsolved of the crimes for which they spent decades in prison. If you analyzed any one of those cases, I bet at the core, you'd find, at a minimum, some type of government malfeasance and at worst, corruption and perjury. How many DAs and Federal prosecutors have been willing to admit they were wrong? Perhaps there are a handful, although I haven't yet heard of one. What makes you think you're safe?

Julie, Guvernator
Milwaukee, WI

Dear FRONTLINE,

I believe O.J. Simpson is guilty. I can honestly say, with no question of doubt in my mind, that my belief is not racially motivated, even though the underlying theme of this program seemed to be indicating it's impossible that it isn't. While I did gain some keen insight into how integral race was to this trial, and while I now understand why the Black community cheered so loudly at its outcome, I must remind people that it was the media that kept telling us (and is still telling us) that our views are race-related. To me, this travesty of justice was about a celebrity getting away with murder based on his wealth, his name, and on the lost opportunities of the prosecution due to the media coverage of the trial. It is true; had this trial been about a white man killing his white wife, we would not have seen the reactions of anger and ecstasy divided down racial lines. But we wouldn't have seen your cameras in Black communities, either, for that group of people wouldn't have mattered to the media. Please stop telling me I'm a racist.

Mark DiSanzo
Waltham, MA

Dear FRONTLINE,

My original belief has not changed. The initial news reports about blood evidence (of both Nicole and her new boyfriend) in OJ's vehicle, on his driveway, in his own bedroom, were completely convincing.

Unfortunately for the case, a white racist LAPD detective, as the Frontline program made plain, apparently tried to further "frame a guilty man" with the second glove of the pair.

Though shocked by the reaction of American blacks...rejoicing at the verdict (acquital)...I understood how black people had felt oppressed by a "justice" system that had not been fair to their race. For I too have never had enough money to "buy justice" in America.

Alan Zachwieja

Dear FRONTLINE,

I always felt it was never a matter of race because the Nicole and O.J. were once married and in love. They also produced two beautiful children together and making this a racial issue turned the children into products of hate. I am white, and have always admired O.J., and actually have friends in common. What I always saw this case as was an issue of domestic abuse, and the far too prevalent occurence of abusers not taking no for an answer the abused has finally had enough and cut them loose for the final time. Research and anecdotal evidence shows that this happens in many abuse cases. I believe he would have received as much negative attention if he had murdered his first wife, Marguerite. In the courtroom game, the defense was skillfully manipulative and the prosecution was mindlessly nieve on what they were dealing with, and Ito was blinded by his moment in the light. It is interesting that now most African-American people I speak with or hear about, admit they finally realized with some shame that he was guilty, but that will never negate the hatred and distrust the L.A.P.D. has engendered in many non-white people. A sad episode for many, and not even near the level of sadness that has been felt by Black people for many, many years, due to social injustice, in numbers that cannot be calculated.

melissa youngberg

Dear FRONTLINE,

This program was relevant because it shed a light on race relations in this country. It also allowed white America to see and hopefully understand why African-Americans in this country felt the way we did about the verdict. Not that we necessarily believed he was innocent, but that he got over on this corrupt system that had for years been so unjust to ALL of us.

To make them see that RACE plays a role in everything you do in this country. That daily we are reminded that an African-American life is a discounted life. And ten years later what do we see...........Katrina and New Orleans, and comments such as "Well you know most of these people were already impoverished, so this homeless shelter is working well for them." (Barbara Bush) Or worst yet, "aborting every black baby in America would bring down your crime rate." (Bill Bennett)

Andrea Davis
Washington, DC

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posted oct. 4, 2005

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