OJ feels force of white America's outrage

Day of judgment: Racial fault-lines reappear as middle class exults at $8.5m verdict, but most blacks disagree with the jury

The Los Angeles police went on a low-level tactical alert when a verdict was announced in the OJ Simpson civil trial. But, with no violence reported, some of the ugliest scenes of the night came outside the Santa Monica courthouse.

The outrage of white, mostly middle-class America at Simpson's original acquittal, fanned by right-wing radio talk-show hosts who exulted in the verdict yesterday, was on full display.

A crowd, several hundred strong and mostly white, hurled abuse as Simpson left by a side door, $8.5m poorer. He disappeared rapidly behind the darkened windows of his car to cries of "freeze in hell, asshole", and "you murdering scum".

There were chants of: "We are the champions" and "killer, killer, killer". "Justice was finally done. There's no doubt about it," said Doyle Sharp, pausing on a bike ride through Santa Monica. "The man is as guilty as he is black." Many in the crowd were drawn by at least six helicopters, more than the visible stars, of the case, hovering over the court house.

Others, in an eerie recall of the closing moments of the criminal trial, had tracked Simpson's black Chevy suburban from the front drive of his home on its progress to the court. In contrast to Simpson's ignominious departure, Fred Goldman, the father of Ron Goldman, who died with Nicole Brown, led a victory march arm-in-arm with his lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, and his daughter Kim.

Cheering well-wishers - some yelling "God bless you", others "Petrocelli, Petrocelli" - followed the family in a stampede that spilled across a major street and entirely blocked the entrance to the Double Tree Hotel, where family members had stayed. A small knot of Simpson supporters, some with the Nation of Islam group, yelled defiantly through a megaphone: "You want OJ dead. You want him locked up. You're a bloodthirsty lot, aren't you?"

An instant ABC poll showed yesterday that while about three-quarters of whites agreed with the verdict, only a quarter of blacks did. Television and newspaper reporters, fanning out from white west Los Angeles to black districts like Crenshaw, found largely familiar reactions.

At the Mezza Luna restaurant, where Ronald Goldman worked as a waiter, there were triumphant screams of "Yes!" and "God Bless America" when the verdict was announced.

Some African Americans around the courthouse frequently disagreed with the finding of liability but several said they would accept it, in pointed contrast to white America's response to the original not-guilty verdict.

"OJ is guilty as f-, period," said Adrian Woodley, a Jamaican and a legal courier who grew up in South Central.

"But the only reason why these people are out here and they even care is because Nicole was white, and a white person's life is valued more than a black person's life."

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