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Thursday, February 18, 1999 Published at 06:54 GMT

World: Americas

OJ memorabilia torched

Up in flames: A shirt bearing OJ Simpson's famous number 32

Sporting memorabilia belonging to disgraced American footballer OJ Simpson has been burned by campaigners protesting against the American justice system.

Paul Royall reports: "Under the sledgehammer"
Campaigners spent $16,000 buying the items at auction before burning them outside the court where Simpson was acquitted of a double murder in 1995.

Simpson was found not guilty at a criminal trial of murdering his former wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman.

But a later civil judgement in a wrongful death hearing found he was responsible for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5m damages.

The auction was held to help pay off the compensation order.

The OJ trial divided America and there were fears of race riots had he been convicted on the criminal charges.

Burning the lots

Bob Enyart, a Christian TV talk show host, said the buy and burn protest was a statement against the American justice system.

[ image: Lou Brown, right, father of Nicole Brown Simpson, arrives at the auction]
Lou Brown, right, father of Nicole Brown Simpson, arrives at the auction
He said: "We are destroying OJ Simpson's property in front of the Los Angeles courthouse because the criminal justice system is destroying justice before our very eyes."

He burned Simpson's Hall Of Fame induction certificate - the most prestigious award given to college American football players.

Just 24 hours earlier Mr Enyart had paid $10,000 at OJ Simpson's auction to buy it.

He then burned a two football shirts, with Simpson's number 32 printed on them, and smashed a Lifesaver trophy, given to Simpson for helping charities, with a sledgehammer.

Several hundred people watched the ritual but not everyone was on Mr Enyart's side.

Gwendolyn Rhodes said: "They destroyed something materialistic. Did they destroy the touchdowns and the records he set?"

Simpson, who was not at the burning, said: "I wonder about the mentality involved in this.

"The guy's burning up $16,000 he could use to fight Aids or help kids with cancer or even donate to battered (women's) homes."

Prestigious trophy auctioned

The auction on Tuesday raised $430,000, including $255,500 for Simpson's Heisman Trophy.

The trophy, given annually to the US's best college football player has been awarded since the 1930s, but never before has one been put up for sale.

Another of the items, an abstract painting by the disco singer Donna Summer, was sold for $6,325, while a life-size metal statue of OJ Simpson went for $3,738.

Simpson has previously sold the mansion, where he lived at the time of the killings for $4m to help meet the multi-million dollar compensation bill.

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