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The Rodney King Beating: 20 Years Later

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20 years ago today,  Rodney King was the victim of a vicious beating by the LAPD.  The videotaped assault and its resulting trials would lead to a controversial verdict, the LA riots and forever change the race conversation here in America.   

 

In a recent interview with CNN, Rodney King discussed the event that would change his life forever.

After tossing back a few drinks, Rodney, then a 25-year-old convicted robber on parole, saw a police car following him and he panicked. 

"I had a job to go to that Monday, and I knew I was on parole, and I knew I wasn't supposed to be drinking, and I'm like, 'Oh my God.  I saw all those apartments over there, so I said, 'I'm gonna stop right there. If it goes down, somebody will see it.' "

What happened next was seen all around the world.  Four white police officers, struck Rodney more than 50 times with their wood batons and shocked him with an electric stun gun.

" 'We are going to kill you, n****r,' " Rodney said police shouted.  The officers denied using racial slurs.

The beating was caught on tape in 1991, and appeared on national TV two days later and showed "...the police brutality many had known but most of America had always denied or tolerated."

The four LAPD officers -- Theodore Briseno, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind and Sgt. Stacey Koon -- were indicted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and excessive use of force by a police officer.

In April 1992, after a three-month trial in the predominantly white suburb of Simi Valley, three of the officers were acquitted of all charges and a mistrial was declared on one charge of excessive force against Laurence. 

This in turn led to the LA Riots.  Businesses were looted, buildings were torched and people were attacked. 

On the third day of rioting, King went on TV and said, "People, I just want to say, can we all get along?" he said. "Can we get along?"

CNN reports, by the time it was over, "55 people were dead, more than 2,000 were hurt, and property damage exceeded $1 billion."

A year later the four officers were tried in federal court on civil rights charges. Ultimately, Koon and Powell were found guilty, while Briseno and Wind were acquitted. 

In Rodney King's lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles, he was awarded $3.8 million.

 

 

20 years later....Rodney King sometimes wears a protective vest in response to a fear of reprisal threats. And due to his alchohol addiction, he's had several more run-ins with the law, including a 90-day jail stint in 1996 for a hit-and-run involving his wife.  

2001: King arrested three times in six weeks

2003: King arrested after domestic dispute

2007: King involved in shooting

And he's spent almost all of his settlement.  Still, he tells CNN he is happy. He's a grandfather now, and he's engaged to marry a special woman who has returned from his past. 

"The main impact that the Rodney King case had is that it accelerated change," journalist Lou Cannon said. "It's not tenable any longer in the United States of America for a police force of a major city to govern without having the community being a part of that governance."

Has police treatment of Black men or minorites in general changed in any way around the country as a result of the Rodney King verdict(s)?  Depends on who you ask.

 

CNN anchor Don Lemon sits down with Rodney King 20 years later to revisit the scene and talk about King being a symbol of police brutality.

 

"Race and Rage – The Beating of Rodney King," debuts Friday, March 4 at 8:00p.m. ET and PT on CNN/U.S.   It replays on Saturday, March 5 at 8:00p.m. ET and PT. 

 

UPDATE - TMZ reports that Rodney was arrested yesterday for driving with an expired license.  Cops in Arcadia, CA received a complaint about a man driving recklessly and when they located the vehicle, they realized that Rodney was at the wheel.

Rodney was pulled over when cops witnessed the car making an unsafe lane change.  When they approached the vehicle, Rodney admitted he had been driving with an expired license.  SMH

After getting his citation, he immediately called a friend to drive him home.

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Comments

WANT YOUR OWN AVATAR? GET IT HERE.

what are you talking about,

what are you talking about, They got their black president.
Anonymous's picture

I FEEL THAT WHEN A POLICE

I FEEL THAT WHEN A POLICE OFFICER OR ANY OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICAL BREAKS THE LAW THAT THEY SHOULD RECEIVE THE MAX. SENTENCE, IF YOU ARE REPRESENTATION OF THE LAW YOU NEED TO BE HELD TO HIGHER STANDARDS OF THE LAW
NETTA's picture

EVEN THOUGH RACISM STILL

EVEN THOUGH RACISM STILL EXIST, I DO NOT FEEL THAT EVERY SITUATION IS ABOUT RACE, SOMETIMES IT JUST ABOUT PEOPLE THINKING THAT THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW, YES, ALL OF AMERICANS DID GET OUR FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT, BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT OR OK FOR PEOPLE TO PUSHING IGNORANCE, I PRAY THAT ONE DAY THERE WILL BE A LOT LESS IGNORANCE IN THIS WORLD. WHAT IS THE REASON FOR BEING RACIST
NETTA's picture

I SWEAR U WHITE PEOPLE SAY

I SWEAR U WHITE PEOPLE SAY NIGGA BEHIND CLOSE DOORS IF U EVER SAID THAT TO A BLACK PERSON FACE MOST WHITE PEOPLE DONT EVEN NO BUT HEY U CALL US NIGGA YEA YEA YEA WE TOOK YA FUCKING WHITE HOUSE LOL WE WAS SLAVES AND NOW WE RUN SHIT SO WHAT DOES THAT TELL U
Anonymous's picture

If we ran shit rodney king

If we ran shit rodney king would not have happened its a white establishment look at congress how many black people u c n congress. Wake up n dont belive every thing u hear n rap music
the truth's picture

Get it right u asshole…I'm

Get it right u asshole…I'm WHITE & more than half my boys are black & we always say "wha up my nigga"or"peace nigga" they say it to me & I say it to them. "Nigga" & "NIGGER" are two totally DIFFERENT words! So get ur shit right u idiot. And yes as retarded as it is (just like u are) people still use racial words I've been in white, black, Hispanic people houses & ALL of them use the words "nigger""white trash""cracker""spic""dot head""sand nigger""chink". So don't act so fukin innocent cause u know your not. No one is
Anonymous's picture

Get it right u asshole…I'm

Get it right u asshole…I'm WHITE & more than half my boys are black & we always say "wha up my nigga"or"peace nigga" they say it to me & I say it to them. "Nigga" & "NIGGER" are two totally DIFFERENT words! So get ur shit right u idiot. And yes as retarded as it is (just like u are) people still use racial words I've been in white, black, Hispanic people houses & ALL of them use the words "nigger""white trash""cracker""spic""dot head""sand nigger""chink". So don't act so fukin innocent cause u know your not. No one is
Anonymous's picture

fuck um he's a nigger he

fuck um he's a nigger he deserved to be killed in my opinion not tazed
Anonymous's picture

The man was a criminal. He

The man was a criminal. He was on pcp. the police tazored him first several times and it had no effect. He resisted and since they couldn't take him down with the tazor they had to beat him into submission. They did their job. He didn't deserve the money and the cops didn't deserve to be fired. His record since then shows he is a criminal. Had he ran over a child one of those times he was drunk everyone would hate him instead of using him as an excuse to hate the police.
Anonymous's picture

he just wanted money like any

he just wanted money like any other black on welfare
Anonymous's picture

fuck him hes a nigger

fuck him hes a nigger
Anonymous's picture

ignorant, sad lil people you

ignorant, sad lil people you are.. Why are police racists? because they do their jobs, arrest and protect themselves and others.. People need to be accountable for their own actions and quit blaming others.. Another sad story from another sad, uneducated fellow..
Anonymous's picture

It's sad that Rodney king had

It's sad that Rodney king had to get that brutality from police. Police swear just cuz they w the law that watever they do they are above and beyond. after reading this article, this man was just nutn but a dumbass. You keep getting arrested, especially after they award your dumbass 3.8 Millie ?? Clearly you a dumbass who ain't got no daam sense. Coulda made that mOney grow evn more and coulda been a billionaire by now. Smdh
BlackBerry's picture

no justice no

no justice no peace!!!!!!!!!!! fuck the police!!!! they killin all these black men for what? do you hear of a white man being beaten or shot to death ? no you don't - RIP OSCAR GRANT from Oakland.......... we miss you another innocent person killed by the hands of the Law? if thats what you call them. thought they was to serve and protect not kill and terrorize
Anonymous's picture

blah blah blah.. Same old

blah blah blah.. Same old story... "The Police are Rascist" I think it's time for CHANGE, and you need to come up with a new excuse!!!! Quit blaming the white man for your problems..
Anonymous's picture

RODNEY LOOKS GOOD THESE DAYS,

RODNEY LOOKS GOOD THESE DAYS, GOOD FOR HIM!
Mi Mi's picture

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Anonymous's picture

The police is supposed to be

The police is supposed to be accountable to it's people. The police is supposed to protect it's people; drunk and all! Rodney King was abused by the very body that was supposed to protec him! It was simply a racist crime, and there is no money enough to compasate the betrayal of these police officers!
Anonymous's picture

The police is supposed to be

The police is supposed to be accountable to it's people. The police is supposed to protect it's people; drunk and all! Rodney King was abused by the very body that was supposed to protec him! It was simply a racist crime, and there is no money enough to compasate the betrayal of these police officers!
Anonymous's picture

The police is supposed to be

The police is supposed to be accountable to it's people. The police is supposed to protect it's people; drunk and all! Rodney King was abused by the very body that was supposed to protec him! It was simply a racist crime, and there is no money enough to compasate the betrayal of these police officers!
Anonymous's picture

The police is supposed to be

The police is supposed to be accountable to it's people. The police is supposed to protect it's people; drunk and all! Rodney King was abused by the very body that was supposed to protec him! It was simply a racist crime, and there is no money enough to compasate the betrayal of these police officers!
Anonymous's picture

The police is supposed to be

The police is supposed to be accountable to it's people. The police is supposed to protect it's people; drunk and all! Rodney King was abused by the very body that was supposed to protec him! It was simply a racist crime, and there is no money enough to compasate the betrayal of these police officers!
Anonymous's picture

The police is supposed to be

The police is supposed to be accountable to it's people. The police is supposed to protect it's people; drunk and all! Rodney King was abused by the very body that was supposed to protec him! It was simply a racist crime, and there is no money enough to compasate the betrayal of these police officers!
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sfdsdfrg's picture

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sdfsdf's picture

Typical. One word for this

Typical. One word for this entire situation! 1 billion dollars in damage due to animals running around loitering & destroying innocent peoples businesses and property...how stupid and ignorant can one people be??? Let me go ahead and destroy a business that some innocent family built bc some alcoholic loser got beaten and the cops got off. And this LOSER has wasted away his millions of settlement money...probably on more drugs, alcohol, hookers and degenerate behavior. That 3 million should have went to people that actually deserve it or people that would actually DO something with it. Rodney King was is and will always be a LOSER. Squandering away his settlement...TYPICAL. just goes to show ya... I won't even say it...but I think anyone with half a brain reading this catches my drift. TYPICAL.
Anonymous's picture

fuck you u piece of shit

fuck you u piece of shit
Anonymous's picture

Typical. One word for this

Typical. One word for this entire situation! 1 billion dollars in damage due to animals running around loitering & destroying innocent peoples businesses and property...how stupid and ignorant can one people be??? Let me go ahead and destroy a business that some innocent family built bc some alcoholic loser got beaten and the cops got off. And this LOSER has wasted away his millions of settlement money...probably on more drugs, alcohol, hookers and degenerate behavior. That 3 million should have went to people that actually deserve it or people that would actually DO something with it. Rodney King was is and will always be a LOSER. Squandering away his settlement...TYPICAL. just goes to show ya... I won't even say it...but I think anyone with half a brain reading this catches my drift. TYPICAL.
Anonymous's picture

Not to excuse Rodney or the

Not to excuse Rodney or the LAPD's actions because they were both wrong but I have to point out that so are you. Out of the $3.8 million he only got back less that $1.5 million after taxes. Do you really expect $1.5 million to last 20 years? He bought a house that is paid off, he bought his mother a house that is paid off. And clearly he's doing okay so he must be doing something right now(sober for over 2 years). The police know they used excessive force which was unessecary.....busted face, broken ankle, lacerated liver, brain and kidney damage??!! I'm sure some of the money was used to pay medical bills. And he said MOST of it is gone not all. And he was wrong for putting others in danger but driving under the influence, driving wrecklessly and failing to stop. His cohorts were arrested without incident and received no beating but he did so I'm sure there might of been something that was not recorded. Just sayin...
Look med school...'s picture

Yea, Rodney king maybe is a

Yea, Rodney king maybe is a loser, but who gave 15 cops the right to beat and kick 1 losers. I dnt care how much of a jerk he is, their actions can not be justified. And that jury should have done wat was right and found those bastards guilty and none of this wadnt have happen
meme's picture

I agree that it wasnt the

I agree that it wasnt the best thing to do but what else is there to do when an all white jury acquits those cops after beating this black man uncontrolablly. Trust me, im not one to agree with anything remotely negative but i can feel their pain. Sadly they had to do this for something to happen. They cudnt let this just fly by without something happenin.
meme's picture

Typical. One word for this

Typical. One word for this entire situation! 1 billion dollars in damage due to animals running around loitering & destroying innocent peoples businesses and property...how stupid and ignorant can one people be??? Let me go ahead and destroy a business that some innocent family built bc some alcoholic loser got beaten and the cops got off. And this LOSER has wasted away his millions of settlement money...probably on more drugs, alcohol, hookers and degenerate behavior. That 3 million should have went to people that actually deserve it or people that would actually DO something with it. Rodney King was is and will always be a LOSER. Squandering away his settlement...TYPICAL. just goes to show ya... I won't even say it...but I think anyone with half a brain reading this catches my drift. TYPICAL.
Anonymous's picture

Typical. One word for this

Typical. One word for this entire situation! 1 billion dollars in damage due to animals running around loitering & destroying innocent peoples businesses and property...how stupid and ignorant can one people be??? Let me go ahead and destroy a business that some innocent family built bc some alcoholic loser got beaten and the cops got off. And this LOSER has wasted away his millions of settlement money...probably on more drugs, alcohol, hookers and degenerate behavior. That 3 million should have went to people that actually deserve it or people that would actually DO something with it. Rodney King was is and will always be a LOSER. Squandering away his settlement...TYPICAL. just goes to show ya... I won't even say it...but I think anyone with half a brain reading this catches my drift. TYPICAL.
Anonymous's picture

rodney need a next beating

rodney need a next beating
 malick's picture

Dumb negro deserved that azz

Dumb negro deserved that azz whopping, drunking fool probably was drunk as hell the night of. All that money and nothing to show for it, so typical. Why is this news.
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http://www.busymalls.com's picture

dont hate because LAPD is

dont hate because LAPD is doing their job. None of you even know the facts behind Rodney King's levels of intoxication. Have you ever tried to arrest a angry suspect on PCP? do they listen to you, do they comply?? NO! so the officers did what they had to do, he wasn't going down without a fight, and he was planning to take officers down with him if they didnt' stop him. All you sorry losers are the first one to call the police when someone is trying to hurt you! stop acting like a bunch of ingnorant morons, who have no clue!!!
Anonymous's picture

dont hate because LAPD is

dont hate because LAPD is doing their job. None of you even know the facts behind Rodney King's levels of intoxication. Have you ever tried to arrest a angry suspect on PCP? do they listen to you, do they comply?? NO! so the officers did what they had to do, he wasn't going down without a fight, and he was planning to take officers down with him if they didnt' stop him. All you sorry losers are the first one to call the police when someone is trying to hurt you! stop acting like a bunch of ingnorant morons, who have no clue!!!
Anonymous's picture

thank God i don't live in

thank God i don't live in America!
Anonymous's picture

God bless you Rodney. I saw

God bless you Rodney. I saw him on celebity rehab, he has changed his life around.
Anonymous's picture

i am happy he survived,our

i am happy he survived,our Friend Reggie Doucet Died i hope they will face the consequences,LAPD is the most effed up group of people,most of them want to be stars,the wanna kill,they tink they have powers etc,i was in court once and i went down stairs to pickup stuff that was the 9th when lindsay lohan wa sin court,they were google'ing the pictures on Tmz and happy to see themselves on TMZ who does thta?all this people involved with the law in LA are so effed up.seriously ugh God is coming soon he will judge us all accordingly,i cant wait
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fsftger's picture

I remember when this happened

I remember when this happened and just feeling sick to my stomach. Unfortunately police racism does still exist, it's just a little more sophisticated now. While no-one deserved the appalling treatment Rodney received it is extremely disappointing that after receiving the payout he didn't treat it as an opportunity to take his life in a different direction. Yes, he may have been experiencing appalling post traumatic stress but with the payment issued he could have visited a therapist. He could have invested in an education. A business. Anything. Instead his actions suggest he chose to remain a victim when there was an opportunity to empower himself. Still, if he's thankful for what he has now and feels positive about his future that is a good thing. I hope it's all good for him from here on.
Bubbles's picture

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TEAM YRF's picture

It's so unfortunate that so

It's so unfortunate that so many people are worried about where his money is and how dumb he is. The fact of the matter is that having to go through something like that could have psychological effects on him. That is a traumatic event in his life that will never go away. Justice was not fully provided for this individual. Money does not cure all things. If he did call and remind them about it being 20 years, that could be proof that he still has not had closure. This will forever be something that he has to live with. God bless Rodney King.
Mymy's picture

Rodney BOY GO SIT DOWN!!! He

Rodney BOY GO SIT DOWN!!! He probably called the news and reminded them that it has been 20 years.......ain't nobody looking for Rodney no more. Yeah his case will forever be history and the riots....but when you run in to the law 20 more times after it makes your story that much less interesting.
DCbound's picture

he has a lot more issues than

he has a lot more issues than just this beating. he's already on parole but still drinking? he needs to get his alcoholism in check. but sure, after the fact i'm glad the issue was brought to light
leesh's picture

This man spend $1.8 million

This man spend $1.8 million dollars and don't have nothing to his name. Yes, he's a dumbass simple as that. I didn't say he deserved tobe beated the way he did. Hell yes the cops was wrong. But he didn't learn anything from that if he did he wouldn't went back to jail here and there.
Tina's picture

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