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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore
 

People drink to shut out pain and stress. Arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones