In a nation that largely despised him, O.J. Simpson always had strong support within the black community, where polls showed a majority of people believed he was innocent of charges that he murdered his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her acquaintance Ronald Lyle Goldman outside her home in Los Angeles's Brentwood neighborhood in 1994.Read the whole thing.
But after a string of missteps by the former football star -- a heated 2003 argument with his teenage daughter in which she called police; a book, "If I Did It," that raised eyebrows last year; and a dispute over sports collectibles in Las Vegas this month that led to an armed-robbery arrest -- black opinion has shifted.
A Washington Post survey found that 40 percent of black respondents believe he is innocent of the murders, compared with 71 percent who felt that way around the time Simpson was acquitted in 1995. The change in black opinion brings African American views of Simpson's guilt closer to those of white people. In late 1995, 72 percent of white respondents said Simpson was guilty of murder, and 74 percent say they feel that way now.
The 31-percentage-point drop among black respondents is a head-turner, sociologists said, because African Americans were such steadfast supporters of the celebrity, cheering in some places when the verdicts were read.
The racial divide over the Simpson verdict was said to reflect the deep societal chasm between the races on matters of equality and justice under the law. I personally never doubted Simpson's guilt (and I've always been somewhat indignant over black resistance to see straight on this issue). Now, though, for black America, Simpson's continued family difficulties and his brushes with the law have simply confirmed what many people have thought all along: The man's a killer.
Check out T. Jefferson Parker's essay on Simpson's book, If I Did It. Parker's a crime writer, and he had a chill down his spine when read the section where Simpson essentially confesses his crimes.