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The OJ Simpson trial was sensational – and a portent of the strife-torn America we see today

Thirty years after I covered the ‘trial of the century’, its themes of race, misogyny, policing and celebrity still affect and define the nation

It wasn’t the Kennedy assassination, but I remember exactly where I was on 3 October 1995 when a Los Angeles jury delivered its verdict in the OJ Simpson trial. A novice US correspondent for this newspaper, I was hunched over a primitive laptop, ready to press send on the piece that I had already drafted, confidently explaining to UK readers why the jurors had convicted an American sporting legend of double murder and the likely impact of their decision. The button I had to press was “delete”.

The adrenaline-fuelled hour as I scrambled to write an entirely new commentary on the “shock acquittal” was repeated in newsrooms across the US and around the world. As it turned out, the verdict was not a shock to everyone – but we’ll get to that.

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