On the weekend of his Twitter debut, we look back at one of the most polarizing moments from the 90s.
25 years ago today, on June 17th, 1994, much of the world was tuned into Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals as the New York Knicks and Rockets were battling it out in a close game, the series tied at two games apiece.
Then the telecast was interrupted by “breaking news” as the scene shifted to California and a white Ford Bronco cruising down the highway, followed by a number of LAPD vehicles. Inside that Bronco were O.J. Simpson and his homeboy, Al Cowlings, who was driving a sobbing and armed O.J.
Simpson was named as a person of interest in the brutal murder of ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and friend, Ron Goldman and he was scheduled to turn himself into the LAPD. But after waiting for a period of time and no O.J. in sight, LAPD Commander Dave Gascon declared him a fugitive and the hunt was on. Turns out Cowlings and Simpson decided on a much more scenic route through Orange County, where, after triangulating his phone, the vehicle was spotted by CHIPs (California Highway Patrol) and the slow paced “chase” began and the world was captivated.
After the dust settled and the trial and media circus began, all of the gossipy and grisly details came to light.
The nature of the gruesome wounds to the neck and head of each of the victims, the alleged relationship between the victims and more have all been discussed on television talk shows and the tabloids. It was the biggest case of sports, race and celebrity the world had witnessed, many taking sides between the celebrity O.J. Simpson and the Black O.J. Simpson who was accused of murder.
Though some believed he was more a threat to himself than to others, others believed Simpson’s own instinct for self-preservation was too strong for him to commit suicide. Thousands of supporters, some of whom had signs showing support for Simpson, lined the streets, bridges, and overpasses along the route. Others, especially those in NY and Houston, waited anxiously, and angrily, for NBC to put Game 5 back on TV.
Many thought, three years after the Rodney King beating and the acquittal of the officers involved, that the state had to be wrong about O.J.
Not the Hall of Famer who ran wild for the Buffalo Bills. Not the man who many debated was better than Jim Brown in college, and definitely not the guy from the Hertz commercials and “Naked Gun” movies.
Oh, heavens, no!
We were so caught up in race, class, and celebrity, as well as the latter realization that LAPD detective Mark Furman was a racist, that some felt his eventual exoneration was somehow a karmic victory.
But, in actuality, we were blindly supporting a man who was very likely a murderer simply because we we refused to believe the LAPD, a historically, notoriously racist law enforcement institution.
In the beginning, O.J. was Harriet Tubman on the run. He was Nat Turner on the Virginia countryside, or Larry Davis running from allegedly racist NYPD officers who were looking to execute him.
However, O.J. was none of these things.
His disgusting book titled “If I Did It“, his smug responses to questions of his innocence and how he basically directed an armed robbery attempt against a memorabilia dealer in Las Vegas he says robbed him, all would shine a negative light on his claims of innocence.
Just a few days ago, O.J. Simpson was verified by Twitter and already has over 630,000 followers. It would seem that many have forgotten just how hideous a person he is. Whether he’s innocent of murder or not, O.J. Simpson is nobody’s hero. But in today’s social media crazed world, that appears to have been lost hundreds of thousands of people.
On October 3, 1995, O.J. Simpson was acquitted in the double murder after a 252-day spectacle of a trial. Despite what prosecutors called “a mountain of evidence”, O.J.’s “dream team” as well as, our love for celebrity figures, and a general disdain for the police, got Simpson off.
25 years later, O.J. has his popularity back through Twitter while two people remain in the grave.