Wednesday, April 25, 2012

rodney king today

rodney king today

rodney king today, Today marks the seventeenth anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots. In recognition of Wednesday April 29, 1992, LAist presents a special feature with one the era's most recognizable figures.
Rodney King’s near-death plunge to infamy began with a twelve-pack of malt liquor. King’s intoxicated, high-speed driving on March 3, 1991 united him a group of Los Angeles Police Department officers. Their boots, billy clubs, and Taser, would beat the 25 year-old King into the history books.
Thirteen months later, on April 29, 1992, LAPD officers, Stacy Koon, Laurence Powell, Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind, were acquitted of assaulting King. The city’s mounting racial unrest ignited. That was the first day of the Los Angeles Riots. More than fifty people would lose their lives, and damages would exceed hundreds of millions of dollars.

King, 44, no longer drinks alcohol or uses drugs. He’s ten months sober, and has recently found peace with the LAPD officers who scarred both his life and the LAPD.
On a recent Friday night King could be found sharing the strength and hope of his journey with a Multiple Sclerosis recovery group. “I spoke and I sung a little song for them, just something off the top of my head,” King told LAist. Though King grew up singing, he admitted it had been a while since his last performance. “It was real therapeutic for me. It’s been cool getting out there, supporting other people.”
While not afflicted with M.S., King had spent decades battling another chronic, debilitating disease. King’s alcoholism, his incessant drinking despite the cost, had given him a life he didn’t want.
Rodney King is probably still most associated with the race-based riots that broke out across Los Angeles in late April of 1992, after officers filmed beating him on a surveillance tape (widely played across the US and internationally) were acquitted.
Read more at trial of the officers accused of assaulting Rodney King was also a major media event, before anyone even knew the outcome of the trial would involve the deadly riots. But the resultant riots- stretching on for several days, causing a billion dollars in damage and spreading in smaller scope to cities including San Francisco, Vegas and Atlanta- are certainly what most Americans associate most closely with Rodney King’s name.

It seems a bit strangely coincidental that just on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the race riots that broke out after the acquittal of the officers in the Rodney King case, America was again embroiled in racial disquiet- and it was posited a few times that during the Trayvon Martin case, people believed “race riots” would once again break out should shooter George Zimmerman not be held accountable for the murder of Martin.

At the time, King himself spoke out on the Trayvon Martin case, urging folks to trust in the same justice system he’d had to wait on for justice just 20 years ago. And while many Americans still associate the case with the understandable bitterness that flowed out of black communities, King has mellowed in recent years as well.

In an interview with the AP to mark the 20 year anniversary of the riots, Rodney King reflected upon where he is now versus twenty years ago. He says:

“America’s been good to me after I paid the price and stayed alive through it all… This part of my life is the easy part now.”
We almost forgot... happy Rodney King day.

Sure, some people celebrate another Civil Rights King this day. But his maybe-relative Rodney's story resonates with us more, in part, perhaps, because one of the cops that helped make Rodney King famous was an SF guy.

But the main reason is that, in the middle of 1992's violent, destructive riots (55 dead and 2,000 injured), caused by people supposedly supporting him, Mr King went on the radio with this sentiment, the one that underlies any workable approach to civil rights, and that bespeaks tolerance and respect for your fellow man.

"Can't we all just get along?"

Rodney King has had more traffic-law problems since then, but he has reportedly married Juror Number Five from his civil trial, and has publicly forgiven the policemen who beat him -- most of whom went to prison.

So on this Federal holiday, take a moment to consider Rodney King's message of peace and hope, and any other civil rights pioneer named King that may occur to you. Can't we all just get along?

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