Potrero Hill neighbors have mixed reaction on O.J. Simpson parole release

- Reactions to the parole of O.J. Simpson vary in the Potrero Hill neighborhood where he grew up.

Observers tend to view Thursday's events through the prism of the 1995 murder case, and acquittal.

"You can't get a do-over on that, it doesn't work that way," Emily Lerios of San Francisco told KTVU. 

"But it is unfortunate for the families of the victims and everyone involved."   

Lerios was among those gathered after work at a longtime Potrero Hill saloon, the Connecticut Yankee. 

Patrons had been talking about Simpson and his deeds, past and present, all afternoon.

"We are discussing the murder still, even though this was a parole hearing for a robbery," noted owner Joseph Christensen, " because the tie is still there and always will be." 

Older people recall Simpson's football stardom. 

Later, he was prominent as a sportscaster, actor, and advertising pitchman.

Then, in the 90's, the defendant in what was billed as the "trial of the century." 

His acquittal on Oct. 3, 1995, was cheered by viewers at the Potrero Hill Recreation Center, near the housing projects where he grew up. 

And his supporters remain loyal.  

"People are talking about it, people are clapping actually," Minoria Franks told KTVU, in front of her childhood home across from the Rec Center. 

Franks' parents went to school with Simpson and have never stopped supporting him. 

"For him to be off right now, and for what he's off on? That's good. He shouldn't be in jail for those things," declared Franks.    

"Everything that happened is an intense disappointment, and I'm just glad it's over," passerby Jim Carter told KTVU.

Carter, at 73, is three years older than Simpson.

"He was a hero of mine, and now I hope he'll just go play golf and never get in trouble again." 

Simpson's athletic ability emerged at Galileo High School, and he went on to football prominence at CIty College of San Francisco, then USC, and a record-setting NFL career. 

"He's O.J., he's not black or white, he's OJ!, " exclaimed Tim McNiff, perched on a barstool at the Connecticut Yankee. 

McNiff was remembering the celebrity status Simpson had at the time of the double murders. 

"Well now that he's free, he can find the real killer like he always said he would," laughed McNiff.  

The walls of the sports bar are covered with sports memorabilia, but there is not one picture of O.J. back in his playing days. 

And across the street, on a community mural, his image was painted over after someone added horns and a bloody knife to it.  

Potrero Hill is a more gentrified neighborhood now, than ever.  

"We know about the Bronco, and the glove, and Kato Kaelin," smiled Eddy Chernyak, as he and a companion walked to dinner. 

They were children in the 90's, but remember watching the trial at school, and boning up on details by way of recent  dramatizations and documentaries. 

"I think people still have opinions and they'll never stop talking about it, it's captivated America for twenty years," Chernyak told KTVU.

At the Rec Center, a sports mural above the door has faded, and Simpson's number "32" is barely visible. 

But for a few generations of African American families, his achievements are still intact.    

"He's still considered a hero here and honestly, I don't know how he can be anything else," said Franks, "because  he is one of us."









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