WASHINGTON -- Americans must not let their racial passions override the simple truth that the prosecutors did not prove O.J. Simpson guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
I started out with a gut feeling that he was the murderer, but at the end I had so many profound doubts that I knew that I could never vote to imprison Mr. Simpson for life. My doubts came from listening to hundreds of hours of testimony.
I found the prosecution's "ocean of evidence" fatally poisoned by sloppiness, perjury, corruption and perhaps worse on the part of officers of the Los Angeles Police Department. So, apparently, did the jurors.
Yes, "race cards" were played in this high-stakes game. Detective Mark Fuhrman was the ace of spades, casting a dark shadow over the desperate efforts of the prosecution.
That "race card" was not introduced by Mr. Simpson's lawyers. Race became an irremovable factor the moment it was revealed that the white ex-wife of a black football hero had been murdered along with a white friend.
Race became a factor when the police department sent to the crime scene in the dark hours just after the murders, a detective, Mr. Fuhrman, who was known widely as a liar, an abuser of his police powers, a frame-up artist and a racist who openly deplored interracial marriages and espoused the killing of all black people.
Gut feelings aside, what fair person would not have doubts about Mr. Simpson's guilt when it was clear that the police, and perhaps some prosecutors, violated his constitutional rights and manipulated -- even manufactured -- evidence against him?
There was another card in this mind-searing game: the ace of hearts, representing public revulsion over the testimony that Mr. Simpson had beaten and abused Nicole in shameful ways.
Spades trump hearts
But the ace of spades, Mr. Fuhrman, overwhelmed the ace of hearts. This bigot's attempt to stack the deck against Mr. Simpson turned out to be a very raw deal for prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden.
This jury has sent a message to every police department in America -- a message that, tragically, most will reject.
Only those who have their permanent "race cards" or who refused to listen to the testimony could fault these jurors. There were, after all, three non-blacks who within hours concluded that the charges against Mr. Simpson did not fit, so they had to acquit.
Carl T. Rowan is a syndicated columnist.