It's important to remember that the jury in the criminal case wasn't privy to much of the information that the rest of us had. And even if outside info was leaked to them, they wouldn't be allowed to consider it during deliberations if it wasn't introduced during the trial. The woman who alleged to have seen OJ speeding away from the direction of Nicole's? She sold her story to a tabloid, so the prosecution ousted her. The Bronco chase? They decided not to include that as evidence of guilt, even though OJ had a gun, a disguise, a passport, and nearly $10,000 on him. The ineffectual yet incriminating police interview? Nope. OJ denied being the murderer, and the prosecution didn't want the jury to know that (of course he was denying it! That was the whole reason for the trial!).
I think my take on the case is different from most, because I was a young person living at the time in one of the worst areas in L.A. You know it's bad when other Angelinos try to distance themselves from it by pretending they're not even aware that it exists. In 1994 and 1995, people like me (and probably many of these jurors too) had no access to computers and no means to travel, ever. You think we'd have a clue that wet gloves shrink? I never even owned a pair of gloves until I moved away in my thirties! It generally never gets that cold here. Even if it did, we wouldn't be able to afford leather gloves. We knew nothing about them.
Not only that, but we all grew up with zero faith in law enforcement. I was a Latina "passing" for white due to my mixed ethnicity, and even I was afraid. When a friend of mine was killed by a white man, he was blamed for his own death, because he was Latino and therefore must have been making trouble. In that case, which received some press in L.A., the murderer received a slap on the wrist. I don't recall any whites who were up in arms about that particular injustice.
I'm also bemused about the assignation of significance the black power salute has received. It is nothing like a white supremacist salute. The salute (which is essentially just a fist held up in the air) can be--and is--symbolic of many different things. It was most famously used by 1968 black Olympians as a gesture to honor all of the black Americans whose voices had been drowned out over the centuries by the waters of the Middle Passage, the whip of the slaveowner, the rope of the lynch mobs, and the batons of unjust police. Gloria Steinem also famously used the salute alongside Angela Davis to symbolize solidarity in seeking justice during the civil rights movements. In my childhood L.A. neighborhood, it could mean anything from "best of luck" to "fight the power" to "justice has been served." There's no way to know conclusively what that juror was communicating, but as he was from my neck of the woods, I'm betting it was something along the lines of "Justice has been served," and not, "Booyah! We got your guilty ass off! Three cheers for black supremacy!" Utter nonsense. But perhaps this is something that only someone of a certain socio-economical class in that particular time and place can truly understand or believe.
Although I was only 20 at the time of the trial, I was glued to my TV--my primary source of information about it at the time--and had no doubt that Simpson was guilty. I still don't have any doubts. But I had an African American coworker who was fully convinced of his innocence. This lady was so devoted to her beliefs that she took the bus to the courthouse any time she had a day off during the week. She became a staple outside the building, just standing there to show her support, and was often interviewed by the press. I've sort of been hoping I'd see some representation of her on the show. As wild as I thought her ideals seemed, I never demeaned her for them. And although I was initially frustrated by the jury, I've come to understand over the years the factors that went into their decision.
Part of this is becoming more open-minded and compassionate as I age, and I really like that the show is telling the story from all angles. And that's important, because there is no "one"/right story. We all rely on our own unique worldview a to provide us with interpretations. This case no longer belongs to just the Goldmans and Browns...it's now a part of the history of Los Angeles itself.
I've served on juries myself, and two cases really stood out to me. In one, a civil case, we had to rule against the plaintiff, who was a very sympathetic figure. We also really liked her attorney. But even though her story was reasonable and believable, she had no convincing evidence. Believe me, I would have loved to have walked in there and awarded her with everything she asked for. And many, many times while jurors may believe in their hearts that someone is guilty of a crime, they must acquit if they don't feel the prosecutor proved their case. That's why "not guilty" doesn't actually mean "innocent." That's why the justice system doesn't use the word "innocent." In another case, an all-white jury took about 5 minutes to decide a black man was guilty of a drug charge after a week-long trial. I was the one who insisted that we needed to sit down and go over all of the evidence, even though we were all in agreement. I don't think they liked me much for that, but I thought it was the right thing to do.
Interestingly then, after this show has renewed so much interest in the case, I find myself increasingly supportive of the way it all turned out. Not because I'm a fan of murderers being set free on the golf course or because I necessarily support so-called jury nullification. But when I realize that phrases like "the race card" and sentiments like "this case had nothing to do with race" (which the show's writers so neatly disputed right at the beginning with the unforgettable Rodney King footage) and "I'm glad Cochran got brain cancer" (for doing his job? I wouldn't wish that on anyone) and "the jurors were lazy idiots"(translation: they were mostly black...which makes them automatic lawbreakers/jury nullifiers, DUH) are still being batted around, the cultural ignorance inherent in those statements is like a sickening punch in the gut. I suppose what this show has really underscored is that, as a society, our views and assumptions about those we consider abject sadly have not evolved much in twenty years.