*With his prized possession in hand, Los Angeles-based, award-winning Photojournalist Haywood Galbreath spent 15 months in the courtroom, shot over 19,000 photographs, and documented every detail of O.J. Simpson‘s double murder “trial of the century,” but until now, his story has gone untold.
Galbreath gives EURweb associate, Angela P. Moore, exclusive access to his stories about what really took place in the courtroom. Galbreath had unprecedented access to the trial and provided more coverage than any other journalist in the world did.
“For 21 years the American people have been misled by mainstream media about what took place in that trial. Courtroom cameras, which were stationary and often turned off at the discretion of the judge were poor substitutes for being in the room with unfettered access. I fought for the right to be in that courtroom and my images tell a very different story about what went on between the prosecution, the defense, the witness and the judge. I have nothing to gain from telling this story except setting the record straight,” says Galbreath.
“We’ve only had one perspective and that’s White America’s (mainstream American press) perspective. How can any white male journalist be objective when you look at the travesty of Black people? The American people have misled you and all I want to do is tell the truth,” says Galbreath. He says, American Crime Stories, “The People vs. O.J. Simpson”, a 10-part mini-series is not a true representation of what took place in the courtroom and he’s open for discussing the truth.
An American Photojournalism legend, Galbreath has an eye for photography, and he has shot everything from the homeless and not so, fortunate, to entertainment, politics, Superbowls and the Space Shuttle take off. His portfolio looks like “Who’s Who in America and Abroad”. He has captured Coretta Scott King and her family, Nelson Mandela, several U.S. Presidents, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, Aretha Franklin and Ossie Davis and Ruby, to name a few. Galbreath shot the epic photo documentary of the major news event (the O.J. Double Murder Trial) of the 20th century, with the unprecedented access in history.
Galbreath, a history-making African American news photographer and a 32-year veteran as an award-winning photojournalist and the founder of the Minority Photo/Journalism Institute (MPJI), a nonprofit organization, he has received numerous awards. He has dedicated his life to teaching young people about photojournalism and broadcasting.
Flash back 21 years ago, news organizations from around the world descended on Los Angeles to give the world a play-by-play of the courtroom proceedings. Pundits analyzed the Prosecution and Defense’s every move. Johnnie Cochran was a major player. The People vs. O.J. Simpson was an open book for the world to see and Gabreath was the only photojournalist in the world to have access and cover the O.J. Simpson trial daily from the beginning to the end inside the courtroom. Many of the photographs were never seen before and conversations were overheard that never was reported.
Galbreath fought relentlessly for the black media to gain equal access in the courtroom and was determined to break down color barriers for equal access in media coverage. Never in the history of the United States, had a black-owned news photo service been given the same equal access as mainstream media to cover such a major court case on a daily basis. He managed to provide the greatest photo documentary covering a major news event of the 20th century. He was the only photojournalist to have day-to-day access to the O.J. Simpson complete trial.
The Black Press
“The Black Press today, as it was 20 years ago, was treated with great disrespect. We advocated tor a position to be part of the coverage. I felt the Black Press needed to be there,” he says. In fact, Galbreath said he heard God’s voice. “When the Lord spoke to me and told me I needed to be in the courtroom, he told me it was going to be a long time before you get to tell your story.” Galbreath says people told him if he was white he would be a millionaire and travel the country telling his story.” Instead, the media and movie directors look the other way and ignore Galbreath, although he was the only photojournalist that was in the courtroom every single day for the entirety of the trial. In fact, he was the only photojournalist present when the Jury went to the Bundy and Rockingham locations.
Galbreath explains, “They would look at me and say you really shouldn’t be here. You really aren’t qualified to be here. One photographer was a Pulitzer Prize winner and he had covered Presidents and asked me why was I here. We’re all Pulitzer Prize photographers and what have you done?” What they did not know is Hayward had photographed Presidents too. They just assumed because he was black he had no photography experience and especially experience on that level. Hayward has photographed President Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and President Obama.
“I opened up doors for the Black Press.”We had more access to the O.J. trial than the white media. Black Press didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to show up but white America did,” he says. “I opened the door for Black photographers and I’m not finish.”
Security tried to throw him out. He was the only one they saw every day. Security tried to have him banned from the courtroom but nothing they tried ever worked. Somehow, Galbreath had Judge Lance Ito on his side and everything always seemed to work in his favor. The white photographers could not understand why this Black photographer was obtaining favor throughout the O.J. trial.
Professional white Media Misrepresenting the Truth
“I saw things that white reporters never would report on. You could tell the witness were lying and trying to make up answers as they went on to try to help the prosecution. I went up to a group of reporters and said he’s lying on the stand and the white reporter said, “He didn’t exactly tell the truth and they didn’t exactly lie,” and then I asked them, “What the hell was he doing then?” Galbreath says, “When the reports came out, they all wrote reports that the witness was an honest witness when everyone had commented that they all could tell he (the witness) was lying.” This happen quite often during the trial.
Moreover, journalist and broadcasters reporting on the trial did not provide honest and accurate coverage. They often provided sensationalism and did not take blacks serious. “They (writers and Broadcast Journalist) tried to portray the Defense team as shucking and jiving and not playing by the rules and that was not the truth. Johnnie Cochran and the Defense Team could not do anything that was not allowed by law, but the white media was making it out to be something else. White media add sensationalism to reporting when they cover blacks,” says Galbreath. “Even down to the captions on photos, white media would sensationalize things. The captions would be totally different on photos. The white press text does not reflect the truth of what really happen in the photo,” says Galbreath.
Another point that Galbreath made was that the media did not give the Defense Team a lot of airtime or Dream Team coverage when it was going positive in the trial. In addition, they often mentioned the negative and not the positive in the crime scene.
“They really couldn’t stand me in a certain way. They thought the Black Press shouldn’t be there.” There were 22 Black News Services. Associated Press published the first picture of O.J. smiling during the Preliminary Hearing, and it was Galbreath’s photo that was published around the world.
Not guilty Verdict
From paid witnesses lying on the stand, to tainted evidence (blood vials tampered with) to traces of blood in the Bronco verses the Bronco being covered, to an unsealed Evidence Bag, to the doctor testifying that something isn’t right with the blood sample, to possibly planting key evidence, some argue that the media did not tell America the truth. Galbreath is adamant that the media misled the American people.
While white America does not understand why Simpson was acquitted, black America appeared to understand why. The verdict polarized this country and today it continues.
“The American people were manipulated to believe that black Americans are bad people. If you go back and look at history, you see the most grievous acts committed in modern times have been committed by white Christian Americans. There are some very good white Americans that have help black people throughout history, but the interest of the American media makes it look like the greatest wrongs committed are by black Americans. The media portrays black people very badly,” says Galbreath.
At a meeting, Galbreath says he remembers a guy said to him, “You are right. We bend over backwards to show the negatives in the Black community, but you cannot expect us to bend over backwards to show the positive in black people,” he says. “This still goes on today. They will not go out of their way to show positive images of Black America.”
Galbreath’s Verdict on the Matter…
Fast forward to October 3, 1995, a ‘Verdict of not guilty’ is announced, and O.J. Simpson is set free.
“Looking at all the evidence, I cannot conclusively say 100 percent that O.J. did not do it because I was not there when it happened. Looking at all of the evidence, I can tell the people what I know and explain what I know and the American people will change their mind. This whole matter is bigger than O.J. Simpson.”
When asked his opinion of the verdict, Galbreath stated, “It was the proper verdict because the case should have never been a case in the first place. It was a dirty case and O.J. was set up by the Police Department planting evidence. The Prosecution told the Prosecutor’s Office they should not try the case.”
“What the jury did was the right thing to do. We are still a divided nation for this and I think I can help this nation,” he says.
Galbreath explains that the media did not show what exactly went on in the courtroom and that the world only saw what the media wanted everyone to see. Stories would be twisted by the time it hit the press.
“White America should not be the one telling the story. They can tell it but we need to be a part of the process to tell our story,” says Galbreath.
White America Profits Off the Trial
White America has profited off the trial. According to Galbreath, over $25 million dollars was made off the O.J. trial. “Johnnie Cochran pulled off the greatest criminal court trial victory of the 20th Century. This was the largest case and it was the largest media event ever. It was 154 million people glued in front of their television. The O.J. trial changed how news would be portrayed. It went from news to entertainment news,” he says.
“White America has lost their mind and it caused a lot of divisiveness in this country.”
“This is basically modern day slavery. O.J. cannot make any money off the mini-series but white America is making a killing off the mini-series. The mini-series is geared toward making the Prosecution look good and makes Johnnie Cochran and the jurists look bad. They refuse to talk to me because I sat in the courtroom every day and sources talked to me too,” he says. “If you’re telling me I can’t be objective of people of color, how can you be objective when you look at the travesty of our people?”
“The American people have misled you, and all I want to do is tell the truth.”
Special Note: According to Gallbreath, “The photo of O.J. Simpson with his Heisman trophy is the last of the photos that were taken of O.J. Simpson with his Heisman trophy. Those photos are one of the main reasons why O.J. Simpson is in jail today. He went to the Las Vegas hotel room to get those photos, along with the other memorabilia from his ex-business manager. O.J. Simpson’s complaint was that his ex-business manager had stolen the photos and other memorabilia from him. When in all actuality, his ex-business Manager Mike Gilbert had stolen the photos from him.”
To book Galbreath for appearances, speaking engagements, or inquiries about his photo exhibit, send an email to: [email protected]. Galbreath is available to speak on the O.J. Simpson Double Murder Trial.
Follow on Galbreath Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Haywood Galbreath’s book will be published late 2016.
EURweb associate journalist Angela P. Moore is based in the Atlanta area. She can be reached via [email protected].