O.J. Simpson’s Historic Trial Was Representative Of Something Much Larger

OJ simpson talking to reporters
Zain Murdock
April 19, 2024

The day O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder, a former Panther on the jury raised his clenched fist in solidarity. It was 1995. Many celebrated with vengeance—others refused. 

 But Simpson’s trial couldn’t be a fluke in a system uninterested in justice. The criminal legal system abuses Black people as well as victims of abuse every day.

The spectacle of Simpson’s flight from punishment was contextualized not just by his celebrity but also by systemic violence— from unfulfilled justice for Rodney King and Latasha Harlins to everyday dehumanizing interactions with police.

 The same L.A.P.D. that chased O.J. also allowed a serial killer to get away with murdering poor, Black women for decades.

And though Simpson joked about confessing to murder, the system continues its assault on the rest of us.

Today, Black people are 7.5 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder. Black survivors are criminalized for escaping their abusers. Members of our communities are killed, incarcerated, and surveilled at unbearably high rates.

 It’s unsurprising that many of us still watch trials—with Black defendants or plaintiffs—with bated breath, hoping for a minute of relief from a system that’s killing us.

The verdict in favor of one man in an institution shaped by police killings, mass incarceration, and legal executions is a speck in a web of anti-Black horrors.  

 Whether history considers O.J. guilty or not guilty, no verdict would have protected us from a legal system that isn’t concerned with justice at all.

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