Rodney-King

Twenty-five years ago this week, four Los Angeles policemen — three of them white — were acquitted of the savage beating of Rodney King, an African-American man. Caught on camera by a bystander, graphic video of the attack was broadcast into homes across the nation and worldwide.

Fury over the acquittal — stoked by years of racial and economic inequality in the city — spilled over into the streets, resulting in five days of rioting in Los Angeles. It ignited a national conversation about racial and economic disparity and police use of force that continues today.

“When the verdict came out, it was a stunner for people coast to coast. My jaw dropped,” says Jody David Armour, a criminal justice and law professor at the University of Southern California.

When LA Erupted In Anger: A Look Back At The Rodney King Riots

Photo: Ron Eisenbeg/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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25 years ago, parts of L.A. were embroiled in riots. How much has L.A. really changed since then? California Editor Shelby Grad looks at the issue through polls over the years.

Burned out car on Florence Avenue west of Normandie on April 30, 1992.

Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times The Sorbornne Market at 4600 S. Vermont Ave. on the night of April 29, 1992, the day the riots erupted.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies keep tabs on a group of people arrested after a store on Martin Luther King Boulevard was looted.

Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles TimesRioters at the corner of Florence and Normandie on the first day of civil unrest.

A resident of South Los Angeles vainly attempts to fight a raging fire at 79th Street and Normandie Avenue using a garden hose April 29, 1992.

Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times A man with a shopping cart full of diapers passes a market on the second day of the riots on 3rd Street.

Plumes of smoke rise from burning buildings in mid-town Los Angeles on April 30, 1992.

CHP officer Hugh Gnecco checks for looters in a Chief Auto Parts store at Washington Boulevard and Western Avenue on May 1, 1992.

Bobby Wade holds a sign asking for peace at the corner of Pico Blvd. and Fairfax on may 1, 1992.

Michael Jackson cast 80 members of the Los Angeles’ Crips and Bloods for the music video “Beat It” in hopes to foster peace between them. 

…did it work??

The short answer is no.

The long answer is that it introduced the idea of a truce in the minds of younger gang members on both sides. They grew up to lead both the 1988 peace summit (which included a brief ceasefire) and the 1992 truce. The truce, and the Rodney King Riots which coincidentally started the very next day, fundamentally changed gang life in LA, making the streets safer, dropping the murder rate, and increasing illegal drug profits for about a decade.

He was fucking wonderful and did wonderful things for people without ever asking for credit for it.

Photo: Michael and some Crips!

MJ is a great example of how black celebrities try to use their opportunities and fame to help the black community. I want modern black artists to act like him. 

#BlackExcellence #BlackPride

huffingtonpost.com
Police Brutality Set Off The L.A. Riots 25 Years Ago. We've Learned Nothing Since.
The directors of "LA92" discuss the legacy of one of the most destructive riots in American history.

Go watch the video of Rodney King being beaten. Really watch it. You’ll see eight brutal minutes of an unarmed black man being kicked, clubbed, and tasered within an inch of his life by LAPD officers ― men sworn to protect and serve.

When the clandestinely shot video of King’s beating came out in 1991, it sent shockwaves throughout the entire country, sparking a conversation about racial bias and police brutality. The four police officers charged in the King beating were acquitted, and the city saw one of the most destructive riots in American history.

April 29th will mark the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, 25 years since a mirror was held up to the face of America and revealed a grotesque reflection. Anniversaries are about looking back. They are about legacy. But what is the legacy of the three days of carnage that ensued back then, sending much of Los Angeles into a deluge of violence, looting, and burning buildings?

In their new National Geographic documentary “LA92,” filmmakers T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay go in-depth to explore the legacy of the riots, forgoing the usual talking heads and experts and using only raw, unedited archival footage, leaving it up to the audience to make up their minds about the meaning of the riots.

There’s a moment in the documentary, one day into the deluge, where a Korean shop owner defiantly defends her store from a band of black and Latino looters.

“This is America!” She screams at the crowd. “This is America!”

The moment, is the film, and the riots themselves, in microcosm. In other words ― the riots were complicated, and messy. They weren’t just black-and-white. The underlying tensions weren’t just about the beating, but the racist justice system that allowed the cops to go free and, just a year earlier, Korean shop owner Soon Ja Du to go free in the senseless killing of Latasha Harlins.

I spoke with T.J. Martin and Dan Lindsay about what they learned about the riots in retelling this story on film ― and what America has yet to learn.

HuffPost: The film opens and closes with black-and-white footage from the Watts Riots on 1965, which juxtapose in such a stunning way with the LA Riots which took place decades later. There’s this sense of history repeating itself. Why do you think this keeps happening ― the beatings and killings of unarmed black folk, and the subsequent unrest?

Dan Lindsay: Our country has never reconciled the inherent contradictions of its founding. The people that wrote the document that said all men are created equal owned human beings. That’s just mind-blowing. As a country, we’ve never been able to reconcile that. And as long as we continue to have marginalized communities that don’t have a voice, as long as that happens, you shouldn’t be surprised if uprisings or unrest happen. It’s happened throughout all human history, throughout all of the world, from the same circumstances.

HP: The film is derived entirely from archival footage of news broadcasts, court videos, aerial footage and so on. What was the reasoning behind that, and what was the process like to organize all those hours of footage into a cohesive narrative?

T.J. Martin: We wanted to take a unique approach that would maybe inspire a unique perspective, and ultimately create a new way of thinking about these events. We didn’t want the the filter of an expert telling you what you think. It was less about deconstructing the anatomy of the events. It became much more immersive as an experience.

DL: We wanted to challenge the audience to begin thinking about these things, to have conversations, to ask the question: What do we need to do to make it so this never happens again? Because clearly we tend to have these cycles of things. We deal with it for a little bit, then everybody goes back to their lives.

HP: There are a lot of interesting moments with the media in this film, little vignettes where we see anchors right before going live, adjusting their hair and doing their makeup before launching into somber broadcasts. What do you think the role of the media was, and continues to be, in conversations about police brutality?

DL: That was a really intentional device because we had concerns that, not all of this, but a lot of this, was created by the media. The media was complicit in creating the events that led to this. We wanted to find a way to imply the idea and that was showing the getting ready. It indicates the facade of the media. It’s presentation. It’s business as usual. To us, that’s representative of America. We have this facade, this image we sell, that we don’t necessarily live up to.

HP: It’s been 25 years since the riots, and while we haven’t had anything as destructive as that happen again ― there’s a sense that it’s only a matter of time. What, to you, is the legacy of the riots?

T.J.:  I think what came out of it was for a short moment, an engaged conversation on race and class. But that same short engaged moment of conversation happened after 65 Watts. That same short engaged moment of conversation happened during the race riots in Detroit. These spurts operate as fads. It’s a symptom and also an extension of the problem. I don’t know about legacy. To me I just think of [the L.A. riots] as one chapter of an ongoing story.

HP: What’s stopping us from bringing this story to a close then?

T.J.: We haven’t figured out the tools of how to talk about this thing where it becomes a constructive conversation. The moment you bring up race and class, it becomes a debate. But it’s not about a debate. There are marginalized communities. This is real.

DL: But we’re trying to activate the audience’s own realization of these things, right? Near the end of the film, you see Bill Clinton watching Bush give his address after the riots, and you realize the riots were at least part of what made Clinton president. And then you think of today, when you hear phrases like “law and order,” the [fear-mongering], and then Trump becomes president. It’s our collective society’s reaction to things, these shifts.

HP: There are moments in this film that are difficult to watch ― the looting of businesses, especially Korean-American businesses. The beating of the white truck driver Reginald Denny. When we talk about riots and unrest, there’s always criticism about rioters destroying their own communities, or resorting to violence instead of peace. What would be your reaction to someone who saw this film and felt the black and Latino rioters weren’t justified in their acts?

T.J.: If anyone were to come with that type of argument, they are neglecting the visceral violence that happened to Rodney King. What we try to do, at the very least, is set context. King just happened to have a video. These atrocities, these abuses of power have been happening since the birth of the country. So by isolating members of a community (who were rightfully so angry) and dismissing 400 years of horrible treatment of one specific community…. that alone is an unfair analysis of the situation, period. We are not watching the same movie.

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Television screens across the world broadcast the videotaped footage of LAPD officers raining down 56 baton blows on an African American named Rodney King. Two weeks later, viewers watched another act of sickening violence when a Korean grocer shot and killed an unarmed 15-year-old black girl named Latasha Harlins after an altercation over a bottle of juice. In October, the grocer was convicted of manslaughter and served no jail time. Finally, on April 29, 1992, a jury in Simi Valley, one of the whitest exurbs of Los Angeles, acquitted three of the four officers involved in beating Rodney King. The response in South Los Angeles was loud and immediate: That night, thousands of residents, black and Latino, took to the streets, starting a four-day riot that destroyed more than 1,000 buildings, injured 2,500 people, killed 58, and resulted in $1 billion in damage and 16,000 arrests.

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CultureHISTORY: The 1992 Los Angeles Riots (4/29/92)

Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the uprising. The prevailing sentiment at the time (after the acquittal of the four white cops who beat Rodney King) was “Burn Hollywood, Burn.”

*** Updated with Part 1 & Part 2 - 25th Anniversary (2017) ***