*Did a juror on O.J. Simpson’s murder trial really give the defendant a raised-fist “black power” salute moments after the not guilty verdict was delivered?
The answer is yes.
In Wednesday’s season finale of “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” the juror raised his left arm in a clenched fist salute to O.J. as the panel left the courtroom. His name is Lionel (Lon) Cryer, and as The New York Times reported on October 4, 1995, he was “a former Black Panther whom prosecutors had inexplicably left on the panel.”
Cryer’s affiliation with the Black Panthers was noteworthy because of the group’s history of clashes with police. Prosecutors could’ve argued during jury selection that he shouldn’t be chosen for that reason. But as Jeffrey Toobin writes in “The Run of His Life,” the prosecutors “didn’t even exercise all twenty of their peremptory challenges.”
Cryer didn’t just raise his fist, noted the Times. Before the verdict was read, Cryer, 44, had smiled and winked at O.J.
Because the courtroom cameras weren’t allowed to record jurors, people at home didn’t see any of Cryer’s gestures.
Cryer said in a CNN interview in 2013 that race was not a factor in his decision, and that the prosecution had put on a “very weak case.”
“I had no alternative but to rule for reasonable doubt,” he said.