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SIMPSON ITEMS TORCHED IN RALLY FOR LEGAL REFORM.

Byline: Peter Hartlaub Daily News Staff Writer

Operators of a Colorado-based World Wide Web site rushed $16,000 worth of O.J. Simpson memorabilia from the auction block to the downtown criminal courthouse steps Wednesday.

Then they smashed the cache and set it on fire.

Their point?

``We want legal reform!'' Denver radio personality Bob Enyart screamed to a crowd of about 500, as men in ``ShadowGov.com'' T-shirts attacked two Simpson jerseys and two trophies with a sledgehammer and lighter.

``The judges and lawyers in this courthouse share the guilt for the bloodshed in this city,'' Enyart added.

Like an audience from ``The Jerry Springer Show,'' most who showed up for the demonstration had a hostile reaction toward the participants, but kept watching anyway.

``I think it's wrong,'' Dorothy Evans said as the remains of Simpson jerseys smoldered a few feet away. ``Why (are) they burning up the man's clothes when they could give them to the Salvation Army?''

The 30-minute event promoted by ShadowGov.com was part Springer, part Gallagher, part Beavis and Butt-head, and all by the book, according to fire and police officials who were on the scene.

``This is a pre-approved event,'' said Los Angeles fire Inspector Ben Flores. ``They called for permits (last week) and they got them.''

Not that there weren't any rules. Enyart and his cohorts were restricted from using lighter fluid, and the area had to be taped off by police before the protest could begin.

``If the crowd was out of control, it wouldn't have happened,'' Flores said. ``If the weather was adverse it wouldn't have happened.''

As it turned out, it was a beautiful day to smash O.J.'s stuff.

Unless, of course, you were among the vocal portion of the crowd who started protesting the protesters.

Halfway through the presentation, Alex Fernandez grabbed a ShadowGov.com shirt and threw it on the burning pile of Simpson jerseys.

The Los Angeles resident said he thought the conservative group, which passed out Christian literature after the protest, came with racist intentions.

``I just kept getting angrier and angrier the more they talked,'' Fernandez said after it was all over.

Members of ShadowGov.com spent $4,750 on the jerseys and $10,000 on Simpson's professional football Hall of Fame award during Tuesday night's auction, during which more than $430,000 worth of Simpson memorabilia was sold.

They carried off the debris in a box and announced plans to melt down the metal and mold it into a knife with the inscription ``O.J. did it. June 12, 1994'' - all for display on the Internet.

In a very un-L.A. move, the protesters were whisked away in taxicabs.

While the dissenters were the loudest, there were plenty in the crowd who didn't have a problem with the protest.

``They own it,'' said Michael Sriro of Beverly Hills. ``I guess they can do what they want.''

Legally, Sriro is correct, said Los Angeles police Sgt. Gary MacNamara.

``Obviously not everyone was happy but, hey, they've got a right to free speech, too.''

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

PHOTO (1 -- color) Members of the group ShadowGov.com burn a football jersey worn by O.J. Simpson in his senior year at USC.

David R. Crane/Daily News

(2 -- color) Doug McBurney of ShadowGov.com holds what's left of one of O.J. Simpson's college jerseys.

David R. Crane/Daily News
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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 18, 1999
Words:567
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