O.J. Simpson’s acquittal was ‘biggest civil rights victory’ of the 1990s; what’s different now?

With new attention on the 1995 trial of football great O.J. Simpson for the murder of his wife and a friend, one sports reporter is now insisting O.J.’s acquittal was a great civil rights victory even if the former NFL great actually committed the crimes.

As Newsbusters notes, a new review appearing in New York magazine of the recent seven-hour documentary, O.J.: Made in America, features comments on Simpson’s trial by Deadspin sports commentator Will Leitch. As it happens, Leitch is thrilled that O.J. may have literally gotten away with murder.

“The verdict was just cause for all that national celebration from African-Americans,” Leitch says, “even if [Simpson] was guilty. Shit, especially if he was.”

Clearly Leitch was uninterested in actual justice in the Simpson murder case and more interested in using Simpson’s travails as a platform to “get even” with whites for all the injustices he feels have been heaped on African-Americans since the founding of the country.

Leitch went on to claim that Simpson’s acquittal was compensation for blacks in Los Angeles because of “the city’s [history of] scabrous racial politics, from the southern blacks who came to Los Angeles expecting acceptance and discovering something far different, to the Watts riots…to former LAPD chief Daryl Gates’s horrific racial attitudes…It all exploded with the Rodney King riots, which were less about King and more about the seeming impossibility that a black man could ever win anything in a court of law in the city of Los Angeles.”

The commentator, who helped found the politically left-wing Deadspin.com sports site and is also a columnist for the far left New Republic, is only echoing what many African-Americans have said since Simpson was acquitted in 1995.

It was clear from the beginning that America was a split along racial lines over Simpson’s guilt or innocence. Few whites thought he was innocent while a large majority of blacks believed he was not guilty.

Indeed, Marcia Clark, the Los Angeles County prosecutor who failed to convict Simpson, has since said the black jurors who heard the case simply didn’t care if O.J. was guilty and wanted to use the case as “payback” for perceived injustices of the past.

As Newser.com reported recently:

In an interview for an NBC Dateline special, Marcia Clark says some of the nine black jurors “came in for the purpose of payback” amid a similar climate of “racial mistrust” of the police as exists today. “They didn’t care whether he was guilty or innocent,” Clark says. “They were going to use this case for payback.” There was plenty of evidence pointing to Simpson’s guilt, but it “didn’t wind up mattering because there was a fundamental large issue standing in the way of seeing the evidence,” she says. “You had this enormous mistrust of everything LAPD, everything officer related.”

“There was no way to reach that jury. There was no way to make them believe. There really wasn’t,” Clark says…

Clark has also claimed that if O.J. were white, she could have gotten a conviction without breaking a sweat.

Today it appears to be a bit of a different story, though. More recent surveys of people who are aware of the 1995 trial show that the stark racial disparity has dissipated somewhat with more blacks than ever saying O.J. really did kill his wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman. But even as more blacks have come to accept O.J.’s guilt, there is still some racial divide in the polling results.

A YouGov poll found that even though many more blacks now feel Simpson is guilty of murder, far more blacks than whites still feel his acquittal was a satisfactory result.

So, even after 20 years, Will Leitch’s outrageous comment on the O.J. Simpson trial seems to reflect the sentiment of far too many African-Americans.


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