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Rodney King, the unlikely heroJun 18, 2012 | News Archive
By: Desiree Fritz and Eric Turner
Rodney King, the symbol of police brutality against African-Americans, passed June 17th, 2012 in an apparent drowning. King was found at the bottom of his home’s swimming pool in Rialto, California at 5:30 a.m. His fiancé, who was inside the house at the time of death, discovered him. According to police there are no indications of foul play.
King was the cause of the infamous LA riots in 1991 that were in response to the brutal beating and horrific injuries he suffered by LA Police that were caught on video. The incident left him with 11 skull fractures, and the four white officers involved were acquitted of the charges. The riots lasted three days and over 2,000 were injured and 55 were killed.
Abc.com called King a “counter-cultural hero”, because even though he endured something terrible he reacted in a positive way. While all of America was outraged, he desired to fight with peace. During the riots King asked blacks and whites “can we all get along?” see here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/rodney-king-dead-police-opening-investigation-apparent-drowning/story?id=16593081#.T988wY5gOFI
Rodney King was a symbol of progressive reformation for the African-American community by shining a light on this tragic event in hopes of providing a course of action against racism and police brutality against African-Americans. What he experienced gave him all the tools to become a progressive leader however his struggle with drugs and alcohol stunted his growth. King described himself as a “battered and confused addict”, and resented that many tried to make him a symbol for civil rights. He once told the Los Angeles Times, “People look at me like I should have been like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks, I should have seen life like that and stay out of trouble, and don’t do this and don’t do that. But it’s hard to live up to some people’s expectations.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/18/us/rodney-king-whose-beating-led-to-la-riots-dead-at-47.html?pagewanted=all
Reverend Al Sharpton held a “Silent March” in New York ironically the day of Rodney King’s death, on June 17th. Rev. Al Sharpton spoke against racial profiling against minorities and focused on the “Stop and Frisk” laws, which he considers ineffective. The case of Trayvon Martin and Rodney King’s beating are similar in the matter of racially motivated attacks against African Americans. They show that not much has changed since the horrific beating of King in 1991. http://newsone.com/2021343/stop-and-frisk-march/
Recently VH1 recapped the horrific events in a special called “VH1 Rock Doc Uprising: Hip Hop And The L.A. Riots” which aired in May. The special featured interviews with King and various California residents who participated in the riots. Rodney King’s history will forever be remembered on tape and in the hearts of people of color. He is the example racially changed police violence that we’ve witnessed far too much, even in this death his legacy will live.
You can watch the Al Sharpton rally here: