This Sunday, April 29, marks the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles (LA), California riots that erupted due to the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers (four did the beating while three watched) and the aftermath of their trial. The four involved in the beating were acquitted. The beating drew national and international attention and America once again reared its ugly head in relation to police brutality and race relations (African American citizens). According to BBC’s article “Flashbacks: Rodney King and the LA Riots,” it was estimated that 55 people were killed, 12,000 arrested, over 2,000 injured and $1 billion dollars of financial losses. The article further stated that “A year later, the four acquitted officers faced a second trial. Stacy Koon and Laurence Powell were found guilty and received 30 months in prison. Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseno were cleared.”
Other media sources added there were more than 7,000 fires and 3,100 businesses damaged. Tom Bradley, the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city with a white majority (Source www.mayortombradley.com) was mayor at the time of the Rodney King beating and the LA riots. Bradley served as mayor of Los Angeles for 20 years (1973-1993).
The actual occurrence of the Rodney King beating was on March 3, 1991. The horrifying episode of the beating left King near death. King and others had been drinking and became involved in a high speed chase with police that ended with King being the victim of the beating.
Luckily a citizen, George Holliday, videotaped the terrible scene from a distance. If Mr. Holliday had not done what he did and eventually gave the video to news station KTLA, perhaps the beating would have gone unnoticed.
After King’s arrest and shocking pounding, he was taken to Pacifica Hospital for treatment. According to Wikipedia, King suffered from “a fractured facial bone, a broken right ankle, numerous bruises and lacerations.” King claimed he also suffered “11 skull fractures, permanent brain damage, broken bones and teeth, kidney damage and emotional and physical trauma.”
King was awarded $3.8 million from the City of Los Angeles for damages. He started a record rap label called Straight Alta-Pazz Records that folded. King always seemed to be in trouble with the law, even before his near fatal incident. He continued to have run-ins with the police that included driving without a license, domestic abuse, reckless driving and driving under the influence (DUIs).
In a press release on the National Action Network’s (NAN) website, on Monday, April 23 Reverend Al Sharpton, host of MSNBC’s PoliticsNation and President/Founder of the National Action Network, joined with community leaders and clergy to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King beating by urging people to come together on key issues and by urging conflict resolution stressing that violence is not the answer. According to Rev. Sharpton: “We had a missed opportunity 20 years ago. People should not forget that it was a white videographer that filmed the Rodney King beating and brought it to the attention of America. At best we can all work together to become united with equal protection under the law. In light of cases across the country from Trayvon Martin – to the 6-year-old Georgia kindergartner that was handcuffed – to the Ramarley Graham case in NY– we must be committed to the theme that violence and intolerance has no room in discussions about trying to make the system work fairly for everyone.” Rodney King appeared on PoliticsNation this evening, speaking with Sharpton about the riots and how he wanted to be an advocate for peace despite the trauma he was going through.
Dr. Drew Pinsley, the well renowned practicing physician who is board certified in addiction and internal medicine, has a Headline News (HLN) weeknight show, Dr. Drew, that airs at 9 and midnight. He interviewed Rodney King on April 25. View the video below.
Twenty years after his almost-deadly beating, Rodney King reflects on the LA riots and gives his perspective on the killing of Trayvon Martin on Lawrence O’Donnell‘s program “The Last Word” aired on MSNBC. View the video below.
The Trayvon Martin killing had an effect on Rodney King, who was also famous for citing the words during the LA turmoil “Can we all just get along?” Here are some comments he made as reported in a recent Los Angeles Times article “Rodney King: ‘I am grieving for Trayvon Martin’.”
“The horrifying sound of a young black male screaming for his life on a 911 call reminded me of my horrifying scream on a videotape 20 years ago,” King, 46, said in a statement released Wednesday by his publicist.
“At that time, I thought I was going to die. Very, very gratefully, I survived. Unfortunately, Trayvon Martin did not.”
“I am grieving, like the rest of us, for this young man and his family,” said King, who has a lengthy record of legal troubles since the infamous LAPD beating. “And now that charges have been filed against George Zimmerman, I am waiting, like the rest of us, to get to the facts and carefully, thoroughly, get to the truth.”
King added that it was important for everyone to “come together to make sure that justice is done” for Martin.
“This is about something bigger than race – this is about justice,” King said.
The Associated Press Los Angeles article by Daryl Gates was reported in the Washington Post recently entitled ”Major Players in the 1992 Los Angeles riots and where they are now” is posted below.
Despite his troubles, Rodney King is a survivor. He looks well despite the terrible beating he took and there is numbness on the right side of his jaw. His marriage during the 20 turbulent years ended in divorce. He has three children and is a grandfather. He currently is engaged to Cynthia Kelley, who was a juror in the infamous case. He describes her as a “godsend.”
King is now an author. His new book “The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption” is co-authored with Lawrence Spagnola. The book discusses the trials and errors of King’s life and his attempt to appreciate life to its fullest.
Check the below website on King’s new book.
CNN will present the special “Race and Rage: The Beating of Rodney King” Sunday at 8 p.m. hosted by CNN anchor Don Lemon. The police brutality of Rodney King and LA riots “ignited one of the worse race riots in American history.”