Op-Ed: Rodney King: 21 Years Later
Today marks the 21st anniversary of the story of Rodney King, a young black man who was so scared of going back to prison, he led police officers on a car chase in Los Angeles. The officers caught up with King, and brutally beat him.
The officers denied the use of excessive force, unaware that an innocent bystander named George Holliday caught the entire incident on tape. Holliday sent the footage to a local news station, and the officers were arrested and indicted.
About a year later, the officers were acquitted, sparking anger over racial profiling and police abuse. Riots ensued killing over 50 people and leading to about $1 billion in damages. King urged rioters to stop the violence, pleading "Can't we all just get along!?"
In 1993, King was awarded $3.8 million as reparation for his suffering.
King has not managed to stay completely out of trouble as he has been arrested a few times since the beatings. Most recently, for a DUI, which he has reportedly struck a deal for by pleading guilty to reckless driving. Instead of serving jail time, King was sentenced to 20 days of house arrest and 3 years probation.
21 years ago today, a young black man named Rodney KIng was brutally beaten by 4 white police officers. An innocent bystander caught the whole thing on tape and sent it to a local news station, becoming one of the first citizen journalists. This was before the days of social media and cell phones with cameras. There was no Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube, but George Holliday's actions made him a hero and a visionary. With his bulky videocamera, he changed the way news can be reported and delivered.
The Rodney King beating sparked anger, violence, and controversy, but also hope, power, and civil responsibility to do what you can for justice.