Creator: Izzie Levinson
Date Created: 1985-1994
Name of the Document: “Fuhrman Tapes”
Context: The Mark Fuhrman Tapes were 13 hours of tape recordings brought in by the defense in the O.J. Simpson Trial in Los Angeles, documenting the Los Angeles police officer as he describes the severe brutality and injustice enacted casually and jovially by the LAPD in the 1990s. Fuhrman also had been the officer to find Simpson’s bloody gloves at the scene of the crime where Simpson allegedly murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. While the case evidence seemed to irrefutably indicate Simpson had indeed committed the murder, the inclusion of these tapes cemented the argument made by the defense at the time that Simpson had been framed by a racist police force and culture. This documents the Wikipedia website’s work to archive these tapes, indicating one way in which the people’s encyclopedia has chosen to represent what was such a polarizing case and issue in its time.
Potential Relevance for the Future: The OJ Simpson case signified a meshing of pop culture, violence, true crime, and racial tensions that were reemerging prominently in mainstream discussion, particularly in Los Angeles following the infamous Rodney King beatings. The case quickly caught hold of the American public and was the first to be publicly broadcast, indicating the ways in which the use of TV would blur even further into the reality TV culture we came to know in the early 2000s, a culture which often strove to unite celebrity gossip with relevant social issues — a perfect storm in the Fuhrman tapes and the OJ Simpson trial. Today, we also know that police brutality persists, as does injustice in the legal system, often acquitting those who have violently and unfairly murdered innocent citizens.
Other relevant headings: police brutality, Wikipedia, people’s archive, archiving, Mark Fuhrman, OJ Simpson, Johnnie Cochran, Marcia Clarke, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Rodney King, Watts riots