Simpson blames media, others Proclaims innocence, asks to be left alone to 'raise my family'

January 25, 1996|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN STAFF

An emotional O. J. Simpson last night proclaimed his innocence, lashed out at those who he believes are keeping him from making a living and, finally, with his voice breaking, asked America to "just leave me alone and let me raise my family."

The hourlong live interview on Black Entertainment Television was the first chance viewers have had to see Mr. Simpson questioned since his acquittal of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald L. Goldman. Mr. Simpson refused to answer most of BET anchorman Ed Gordon's questions relating to his whereabouts on the night of the murders, telling Mr. Gordon that viewers would have to buy his "O.J. Tells" video for $29.95 if they wanted that information.

But Mr. Gordon asked some tough and focused questions and quickly broke through Mr. Simpson's cool facade and initial insistence that, "Everywhere I've gone since the trial, I've been well-received and treated with respect."

"What about the 'Butcher of Brentwood' and 'Murderer' signs?" Mr. Gordon asked Mr. Simpson.

At first, Mr. Simpson tried to dismiss them as exceptions, but soon he acknowledged them and was attacking everyone from the media to women's groups for the signs' existence and for his troubles since the acquittal.

"I mean, the media just flat out lies," Mr. Simpson said. "And I am now the one who, for certain groups of women who have had a bad experience with a man, I have become their whipping boy."

Simpson seemed most angry when talking about Fred Goldman, father of Ronald Goldman. Mr. Simpson is giving a deposition in connection with a civil suit by lawyers for the Goldman and Brown families. The trial is scheduled for April.

"There's one side of me that has empathy for Fred Goldman like I have empathy for all the families of Oklahoma City," he said. "But I also have another side that's angry at the Goldmans and the Browns. There's a side of me that's a little pissed at Fred Goldman."

Mr. Simpson said he "loves Judy and Lou Brown," the grandparents of his children with Nicole. "But the rest of the family, I think, is very self-serving," he added, referring to Nicole's sister, Denise.

Mr. Gordon asked many of the questions that needed to be asked.

"Let me ask you this," he said to Mr. Simpson. "You said you would not rest until the killer was found -- what are you doing to find the killer?

"It's difficult because I am blocked by my inability to make money," Mr. Simpson said. "As a result, I only have a few people working the case."

Mr. Gordon asked Mr. Simpson about his heading to a golf course in Florida after his release when some thought Mr. Simpson should have been in mourning.

"I sat and was sorrowful for 400 and something days in virtual isolation behind bars so don't tell me about mourning and suffering. I mourned and I am still mourning. I'll mourn for the rest of my life," Mr. Simpson said.

"But I enjoy golf, and I should have the right to go outside and play golf if I want to. I am just as innocent as Denise Brown, ## who's having affairs. I'm just as innocent as you. Yet, they tell me I'm arrogant because I'm out playing golf."

When asked why he doesn't sell his Brentwood home and just "lay low" for a while, Mr. Simpson angrily responded: "Go where? Do they want me to go to Africa? Is that what some of those people want?

"I hear there are people in Brentwood who don't want me in Brentwood. Maybe there are. I think I've lived in Brentwood longer than 90 percent of them. They're squatters. If they don't want me in Brentwood, then they should leave. This is my home. This is where I live. I'm home 99 percent of the time. How much lower should I lay? How much lower should I lay?"

Mr. Gordon used Mr. Simpson's reference to Africa to move on to questions of race.

"Some say you have tried to step away from your 'blackness.' Deal with that for me," he said to Mr. Simpson.

Mr. Simpson replied: "I am black I was raised black I am proud to be black. My mother taught me it's your character that counts not your color."

The interview ended with Mr. Simpson's voice breaking as he said, "I've been vindicated in a court of law. I should not be called anything but O. J. Simpson at this time. I am an American, and I just want people to treat me like an American.

"If you don't like it, leave me alone. I'm not bothering you. Let me raise my family and give me the opportunity to earn a living and support my family and friends."

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