Even in his passing the Simpson verdict remains polarizing

0
124

Orenthal James Simpson passed away recently from prostate cancer and it quickly took me back to one of the darkest and most volatile periods of modern American history. Before l continue let me get the following disclaimer out of the way. The thoughts l’m about to share with you good people who faithfully read the Indianapolis Recorder and support their numerous sponsors are mine, and quite simply mine alone.

I’m about to reflect on the pain and suffering that so many  people experienced and how it shook our nation to its core and speaking as someone who lost a younger brother to a violent murder in 1975, l have some perspective that hopefully creates a civil thought process, one without discourse.

Simpson, in my opinion, murdered the mother of his children and turned his rage on her friend who was simply in the wrong place at the right time. I believe Ron Goldman walked into a violent situation and, because he was now a witness, also had to be murdered. 

The events that would unfold from those murders paralyzed the world far beyond the United States as Simpson who was a former star athlete, was embraced by corporate America as one of their own and flourished in commercial endorsements, movies, and sports television to boot.

He was the “Juice,” a  likeable, handsome pitchman for various products and companies and was revered by virtually all involved.

From the day he was labeled a person of interest in the case and then a suspect who was ultimately charged after a police chase that was televised globally, the ugly undercurrent that is racism in this country began to rear its head.

An eleven month trial ensued and the first NFL running back to rush for over two thousand yards was found not guilty and released. Later he would experience a huge financial loss in civil court, but he was still a free man living on his pension funds and playing golf.

The trial sickened anyone with a soul as there was a mountain of evidence against him, but it also included the bigotry of a certain Los Angeles Police Detective who could do little to hide his previous behavior and remarks when dealing with people of color in his job, and at that juncture, thereby rightfully compromising the prosecution’s entire case against the former  Heisman Trophy winning stalwart. 

The consortium of high-powered criminal defense attorneys retained by Simpson successfully painted Mark Fuhrman as the racist cop he was and from there an avalanche of unquestionably damning evidence against the defendant began to erode, setting the stage for a verdict of not guilty and putting the judicial system we rely upon in to a clear and unprecedented dark orbit.

It also served as a legitimate focal point, shining light on the numbers of Black citizens who have been incarcerated for crimes they did not commit, many of those involving life sentences with no chance of parole. While DNA has freed a number of those individuals wrongly accused, there are many still in prison awaiting a trial that could offer them freedom again.

While the Simpson case was resolved in court with a verdict that l personally feel was incorrect, it served as a stark reminder of the aforementioned social injustice 

and how it really deepened the wounds of racism in this country. Many people of color looked at the trial as a victory for those who were wrongfully imprisoned and, in that essence, thought it was appropriate.

Honestly, it’s hard to fault them; for every Simpson there is a tremendously disproportionate number of minorities who have been punished unnecessarily.

No sane person can argue those facts, but at the same time it’s unconscionable that a murderer went free, only to be imprisoned later for other unrelated crimes.

Simpson’s death tore the scab off a wound that defined a turbulent time in our country, and while l’d like to think we are better off today in terms of race relations, the fact is in many ways, it’s really much worse.

I can’t blame those who rallied around that verdict, as l have never been arrested for the color of my skin and can’t imagine the sorrow and resentment of those who have.

As l stare down my sixty-fifth birthday in a few weeks, l realize that l will not live long enough to see racial equality in America and that truly saddens me terribly. 

The facts are clear and the consequences are profound. 

This dilemma started long before Simpson committed crimes that l feel he was guilty of. I just think of the number of lives he impacted and the way it tore our country apart being all too painful, but l could never complain about that to a wrongfully accused Black citizen sitting tragically in a prison cell.

Danny Bridges, who hopes both the survivors of the Goldman and Simpson families may someday find peace, can be reached at (317) 370-8447 or at bridgeshd@aol.com.