Damien Barling: We All Lost. Again.

It’s 1995 all over again.

We all lost. Again.

One of the most striking moments from the OJ: Made in America documentary that aired last fall was the moments following the verdict being read and the camera shots, from all around the country, of black people celebrating and white people crying.

(Some of you may not understand what you’re seeing in this video. It’s impossible to take you back to 1995. Post-Rodney King. Post-LA Riots. There has never been a more black and white issue since the Civil Rights Movement, than the announcement of the OJ Simpson verdicts) 

gettyimages 458124124 Damien Barling: We All Lost. Again.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 3: The crowd cheers after hearing the descision of the O.J. Simpson verdict at the Los Angeles Courthouse on October 3, 1995 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

OJ Simpson may be the single most fascinating human being of the last 50 years. Maybe longer.

July 20, 2017, the world paused, stared at the television, the phone, the computer screen just as they did on October 3 some 22 years ago. His freedom again on the line. Opinions polarized again by race.

When it comes to OJ, nothing has changed.

All signs pointed to him being granted parole. Most legal analysts said it was pretty cut and dry. He’s done his time. His been a model prisoner. The circumstances for him not being granted parole would have to be incredible.

The circumstances around OJ are always incredible.

I understand how the judicial system works. I also understand the judicial system doesn’t always work.

Most people would prefer OJ never get out of jail. In the same breath, in not being granted parole, OJ would look like another black man being wronged by a judicial system thats failed them so many times. There was no easy way around this.

We all lost. Again.

OJ Simpson served 9 years in prison because he was acquitted of a double murder that he probably committed.

Not because of kidnapping. Or robbery. Or gun charges. But because 9 years ago a judge felt like she had the opportunity to retroactively make what so many considered a wrong to be, at least somewhat, righted. Think about it. Fred Goldman was at his sentencing. What the hell does Ron Goldman have to do with this robbery charge in Las Vegas? Nothing. Nothing at all. But Fred Goldman is forever linked to OJ and OJ is very linked to that double murder case.

“I’m not black. I’m OJ.”

In a very strange footnote – OJ Simpson, the guy who separated himself from the black community and yet had them rallying behind him in 1995 never saw the countries lone black president in office. He went to jail one month before President Obama took office. Theres something, almost poetic about that.

 

Simpson returns to freedom in a Trump-led America, close to one year after seemingly ever detail of his life was examined in a 7.5 hour Academy Award winning documentary. He returns to freedom when a 29 year old quarterback has become unemployable because he refused to remain silent while black men across the country were murdered by men with badges. He returns to freedom when race relations are as fragile as they were post-Latasha Harlins, post-Rodney King, and pre-riots in Los Angeles.

Unlike 1995 there was no outburst of support. There were few, if any, tears. We knew today, just as we did in 1995, there were no winners.

We all lost.

More from Damien Barling
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