LEADING ARTICLE:Nicole's killer is still free

Share
Related Topics
On the night of Sunday 12 June 1994 in Brentwood, California someone murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Yesterday, when the "not guilty" verdict was read to the courtroom in Los Angeles and OJ Simpson, Nicole's ex-husband, walked free to the cheers of a large crowd, the sound of sobbing could be heard. The grief belonged to Nicole's family, deprived of a judgment that might have ended their suffering.

Many will shake their heads at the verdict, believing that justice has signally failed to be done. They may wonder what - short of video evidence - it would have taken to convict Simpson of the killings. Such feelings must be tempered by two considerations. The first is that only the jury can really know whether the weight of the evidence presented allowed conviction "beyond reasonable doubt". The rest of us are left to speculate.

The second concerns race. When the history of the trial comes to be written it is quite probable that its chroniclers will fix on Detective Mark Fuhrman as the man who swung the case. Fuhrman's testimony was central to the prosecution's case. It was important that he should be accepted by the jury as being above reproach; a conscientious and honest policeman doing his best for justice. And at first that was how he appeared. Then a jury, consisting of nine black people - all of whom will have experienced racism in a city scarred by race - were confronted with compelling evidence that Detective Fuhrman was a liar, a bigot and a racist.

Even before the Fuhrman revelations surfaced, the racial character of the trial had been established in polls showing that a preponderance of white Americans thought him guilty, while blacks believed that he was probably innocent. To whites it was literally inconceivable that a complex plot could have been hatched amongst Californian law-enforcers to falsely convict a popular sportsman and TV personality. Blacks, with the Rodney King case fresh in their minds, had no such difficulty. With Fuhrman's exposure, any claim that the Los Angeles Police Department could make to putting justice first collapsed in rubble.

So what emerges from all this? There must be some deep misgivings about the nature of the adversarial system of justice, relying as it does on the seeking out of weak points in an argument, rather than in a quest for truth. Then there is the shared but slightly guilty voyeurism, slaked only by the misfortunes of others, and in which the American tabloid press has played a particularly unpleasant and demeaning role.

Many would add the televising of the trial on the debit side of the balance sheet. And it is true that a terrible trivialisation of the deaths of two innocent human beings did result from the theatricality of the process. But would the unreconstructed racism of the LAPD have come to light, had the case not been played out before the cameras? Almost certainly not.

Above all, however, the significance of the OJ trial is the terrifying polarisation in US society between Americans of different colours and backgrounds. Whether the jury's verdict is right or wrong, Nicole Simpson's relatives must know that whoever killed her is probably still free because of the racism of the Los Angeles police.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Trainee Installation Engineer / Field Service Engineer / Customer Support Exec

£16 - 18k: Guru Careers: A Trainee Installation Engineer / Field Service Engin...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians Mate / Electricians Labourer

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Approved NICEIC contractor is l...

Recruitment Genius: 1st / 2nd Line IT Support Technician

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a small IT consultancy business...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager - North West

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is profitable and privately...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality

Farhana Khan
 

Daily catch-up: Ancient Labour rivalries – Bevan versus Morrison

John Rentoul
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935