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My Life During The O.J. Simpson Trial
My Life During The O.J. Simpson Trial
My Life During The O.J. Simpson Trial
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My Life During The O.J. Simpson Trial

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The words “Not Guilty” set one man free, but somehow made all African-Americans, no matter their varied opinions, the enemy.

“… the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder…”

The Trial of the Century had come to an end. The verdict hit the airwaves and the eyes of the nation descended on the city that made superstars out of attorneys. 

As an African-American recent college graduate living and working in the city, that verdict had a profound effect on me and the life I made for myself. The trial and the shocking verdict served as the impetus for what would be months of turmoil and unrest. 

Protests, debates, and incessant banter from both sides of the aisle permeated in our membranes. Lives were changed. Alliances were formed. Mistrust became the rule, not the exception. The words “Not Guilty” set one man free, but somehow made all African-Americans, no matter their varied opinions, the enemy. No one cared to seek our perspective. No one bothered to ask the right questions. We were clumped together as if our stories were one and the same.

From the horrific Rodney King assault, to the unsettling residuum following the O.J. Simpson verdict, my life changed in profound ways.

ЯзыкEnglish
ИздательPatrice Williams Marks
Дата выпуска20 апр. 2016 г.
ISBN9781524227647
My Life During The O.J. Simpson Trial
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Patrice Williams Marks

Patrice Williams Marks is an author, Sensitivity Reader, founder of courses that teach Sensitivity Reading, founder of a non-profit charity, founder of several film festivals with diverse entries from filmmakers and writers. She also has a background in public relations, marketing, and journalism with an emphasis on research. She penned her first book in third grade; The Day Snoopy Got Married. While it didn't make the New York Times Bestseller List, it was an instant classic with the Nunaka Valley Elementary School staff. From that moment forward, Patrice knew she was a writer. Patrice uses her investigative journalism background to excavate untold/unknown stories from times-past to populate her historical fiction novels based on true stories. She also writes non-fiction with the intention of sharing knowledge.  >> FOLLOW HERE or visit her website to be notified of new releases and limited time offers.  SensitivityReviews.com PatriceWilliamsMarks.com (Sign up here to be notified of full novel release) Twitter: @PWilliamsMarks @Unfinished_The Facebook.com/Author.PatriceWilliamsMarks

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    My Life During The O.J. Simpson Trial - Patrice Williams Marks

    1

    SETTING THE STAGE

    Image of Rodney King Attempted Murder

    (Frame From George Holiday Video of the Rodney King Beating by LAPD)

    Although brutal beatings by the men and women who have sworn to " protect and serve " are often caught on camera and commonplace today, they weren't March 3, 1991. I was working for a local business association at the time and watched in horror at what was broadcast on the local news.

    George Holiday heard a disturbance and stepped outside his apartment with his Handycam and began to shoot footage of an alarming situation…

    Morales, a 26-year-old service representative for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, looked out her second-floor bedroom window and saw the Hyundai and police cars pulling up behind it. Morales said she and her husband Heriberto put on robes and walked onto their balcony before the police or King got out of their cars.

    Morales said she heard a muffled command from one police car. King, she said, got out of his car with his hands up, turned and put his hands on the roof. Then, she and other witnesses said, he knelt, then lay on his stomach, with three or four officers standing in a semicircle around him.¹

    Fifteen or more Los Angeles Police Officers pummeled and hogtied a black man after a traffic stop. He was Tased, handcuffed, and left bleeding on the side of the road from multiple kicks and stomps by steel-booted officers. Fifty-six baton swings landed on Rodney King's skull, arms, spine, and legs. They continued the torture even after he lay lifeless on the ground. When it was over, they tossed him into an ambulance. The assault lasted several minutes with over fifteen officers participating in some fashion, or simply watching without reacting.

    There are contradictory accounts of what happened next. According to Richard Talkington, a Los Angeles police detective, the report filed by the officers on the scene said King tried to stand up while being handcuffed, causing one officer to fall.

    Talkington, who said he had reviewed the report as part of the routine initial inquiry, said the officers also reported that King had reached into his pants pocket, an action that presumably would have raised concern among the officers that he might have a weapon.

    The report said King charged at the officers after standing up and kicked and swung at them, according to the detective's account. The full police report has not been released.²

    The above police report was made prior to the discovery of the video evidence; evidence that dispels the police accounts above. Rodney King did not stand up, put hands in his pocket, or kick or swing at them. The report was blatant lies in an effort to cover up what had actually occurred.

    That footage of a modern-day lynching (minus the tree and rope) got picked up by the local and national news. Years later, Rodney King described his injuries: He had a cracked eye socket which was replaced by a metal plate. He described the injury as, cracking like an egg. He had a crushed cheek bone which also required a metal plate. His leg was broken, and he had multiple fractured ribs, bruises, and contusions covering every inch of his body. He had nine skull fractures with nerve damage which left his face partially paralyzed. He suffered from migraines until the day he died.

    A policeman involved in the beating of Rodney King told another officer that he hadn't beaten anyone this bad in a long time, according to a transcript released Monday.³

    What were we to do with this? As a black woman living in Los Angeles, it hurt me to see a fellow human being treated worse than a rabid animal.

    There it was. Proof. Case Closed. Right?

    Although over fifteen officers were at the scene with many partaking in the attempted murder, only four had charges brought against them. Even so, the trial of the four policeman would never have happened if it were not for George Holiday. The well-worn, he was resisting arrest or he went for my gun excuse for such brutality could not be used in this situation. They were caught, and we expected justice.

    The trial of the four policemen was moved to Simi Valley, California. Let me tell you about Simi Valley… I was familiar with this tucked-away small, non-diverse community as my college boyfriend's parents lived there. We would spend the weekend there at least two to three times a month. My boyfriend was Caucasian, as was his family. They were indeed, some of the warmest and most accepting people I have ever met. I still think about them and wonder how they are doing.

    Simi Valley, however, was not so inviting. When dining out, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I felt disdainful eyes pierce through me more times than not. It was not a community used to color. The Los Angeles District Attorney knew this, as did the Defense Attorneys for the four policemen. It served as the perfect incubator for the trial.

    The videotape shot by Holiday was shown repeatedly to the jury, (some say to desensitize them to the violence) was run in slow, super-slow, and normal speeds. You could hear the thunderous roar of the police helicopter overhead, the faint shouts of the police, and the crack of fifty-six baton blows.

    Attorney holding up image of beaten Rodney King.

    (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

    Although the evidence was compelling and concrete, the jury (ten Caucasian, one Asian, one Hispanic) found the four police officers not guilty of a single charge.

    Acquitted of assault.

    Acquitted of assault with a deadly weapon.

    Acquitted of use of excessive force.

    Acquitted of filing a false police report.

    Acquitted of acting as an accessory after the fact.

    Officers congratulating themselves after being acquitted. (LA Times Photo).

    One of the jury members interviewed stated, The cops were simply doing what they'd been instructed to do. They were afraid he was going to run or even attack them.

    Today the system failed us, the then-Mayor, Tom Bradley, said during a news conference.

    The prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Terry White, said the verdict sends out a message that whatever you saw on that tape was reasonable conduct.

    How could that be? We saw what happened with our own eyes. There was nothing Rodney King could have done to warrant such treatment.

    2

    LOS ANGELES RIOTS

    (Los Angeles Times Image, April 30, 1992)

    Inever considered myself an activist , but I knew I couldn't just stand by and accept the verdict without reservation.

    My sister also lived in Los Angeles at the time. We heard about a well-known church that had decided to hold a community meeting on what was next. I thought this was the best way to show my support against police brutality and connect with peaceful, like-minded individuals.

    My sister and I drove to the church and parked a few blocks away as thousands converged on the church. We were a frustrated and perhaps disillusioned group hoping to come up with a plan for a demonstration, or the like. Although the church held several thousand people, it quickly overflowed outside and onto the sidewalks.

    We waited outside and listened to the speakers, who were church officials and politicians. To tell you the truth, I don't remember what was said, only that the meeting went on for several hours with no real steps laid out at that time for us to follow.

    My sister and I walked away, even more frustrated. A few moments later, someone decided to start a march. I don't remember who, but everyone pouring out of the church joined the peaceful march on the nearby streets.

    But shortly afterward, a few individuals splintered off from the main group, shouting with anger and resentment. One person picked up a rock and threw it at a nearby store window, and others followed.

    My sister and I were there to march peacefully, to demonstrate our determination to draw attention to a broken system. Those sentiments, I believe, were shared by most who attended.

    However, sometimes, after you've reached your breaking point, you lash out. And that is exactly what a few individuals did during the march. Marching was not enough of an outlet to contain or dissipate their built-up anger from years of police misconduct.

    During this time there was also another case that angered people…

    In a recent case, about thirty youths, most of them Hispanic or black, were rounded up by the police when they entered a park in an affluent, mostly-white neighborhood one afternoon. They were ordered at gunpoint to lie on the ground, then to walk on their knees while the officers jeered at them and made racial slurs.⁴

    In such a climate, many are bound to go outside the lines in frustration and resentment and anger.

    That march, in 1992, became the epicenter for the Los Angeles Riots… also known as the Rodney King riots.

    When several in the crowd began to destroy businesses and shoot bullets into the air, my sister and I quickly made our way back to my car. It was a very intense situation. I was petrified as we kept low, out of the line of fire.

    We made it back home in time to discover from news reports that parts of the city were burning; that there was looting and unrest.

    I felt very fortunate that my sister and I made it back unharmed.

    The riots began in South Central and then spread out to many other communities over six days. There was widespread assault, looting, arson, protests, property damage, and murders. Over fifty-five people died with over eleven-thousand arrests.

    You did not have to live in South Central to have been affected by the unrest. At the time I lived in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles, near the La Brea Tar Pits and Beverly Hills.

    While returning home from work within the six days of the riots, I remember stopping at a light as dozens of people ran across the street with laundry baskets full of stolen merchandise. Turning on the television, I also remember a Hasidic Jewish man on the roof of a Circuit City electronics store struggling with a television set. The burger joint I ate at and the nail shop I got my pedicures from were burned to the ground. Many shop owners placed signs in their windows of, 'Black-Owned,' in hopes of avoiding profiteers.

    Although the riots were a manifestation of systemic racism within the rank and file, it ballooned into a violent reenactment of the 1965 Watts/Los Angeles riots, and served as an opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to seize the opportunity. Both riots stemmed from police racism and violence against minority communities as a whole, which remained unchecked until the riot.

    It was during this time that Rodney King appeared on television, still suffering from his life-altering beating, to utter these words, "Can't we all just get along?"

    Just putting words to paper, jettisons me back to that time. I can recall the anger, the hurt, and disillusionment I felt, wondering if anything would change after my city was set ablaze.

    Why did I start my book with Rodney King? Because he was a catalyst for change in Los Angeles. So many minorities questioned whether we could ever receive justice from the current system. There was videotaped evidence, eye-witnesses, a man brought close to death at the hands of law enforcement, followed by a complete acquittal.

    Riding on the coattails of Rodney, was a man, a celebrity given mythical status; a man who had broken through racial barriers, a hero to many people of all races, handsome and strong… and accused of two heinous murders.

    Would he receive a fair trial?

    3

    A STAR WAS BORN

    OJ As young football player.

    A Young O.J. Simpson (Public Domain Image)

    Orenthal James Simpson , also known as, " The Juice ," had reached the height of celebrity; notable indeed for any star, and even more so for an African-American during the seventies.

    O.J. Simpson was loved… by almost everyone.

    He played for USC as a halfback and easily won the Heisman Trophy in 1968. In the USC vs UCLA game of 1967 - O.J. Simpson ran for sixty-four yards for a touchdown.

    At the Trojan thirty-six yard line, Hayes takes the snap and hands it to Simpson. He's got five to the forty. Cuts towards the sidelines, forty-five, fifty. He gets a block, cuts back! He's at the forty, cuts back towards the middle at the thirty. He's running at the twenty-five! Fifteen. Simpson at the ten, five. Touchdown!

    In 1969, he was the first draft pick for the NFL.

    November 25, 1976, jersey number thirty-two, O.J. Simpson, shattered the all-time NFL single-game rushing record with two-hundred and seventy-five yards in the Bills Thanksgiving Day loss to Detroit.

    During game day, shouts could be heard coming from bars, homes, and stadiums across America, "Run Juice, Run! or The Juice is Loose!"

    Simpson topped 1,000 yards rushing over five consecutive years (1972–76) and led the National Football League in that category four times. In 1973, he became the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season. The running back also established league records (since broken) with his 23 touchdowns in 1975.

    O.J. was a winner and was celebrated for his record-setting career; playing in six pro bowls in his eleven years as a

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