Rodney King and his place in American history
The death of Rodney King on Sunday by drowning was the dramatic ending to a life that is made for TV. In an interview with CNN to remember 20 years after the Rodney King beating was telling; he acknowledged his constant fight with alcohol and drug additions, but what really haunts him at night was the beating he took on that fateful day in Los Angeles by the L.A. PD. The look in his eyes was of total fear, you could tell that this man feared for his life. He later said in the interview that he was lucky to survive because so many aren’t here to tell their story. The beating almost cost him his life as he was in surgery for five hours after the vicious beating. He suffered a fractured facial bone, a broken right ankle, and numerous bruises and lacerations. What happened after changed the course of history forever in America.
The beating was started by a high-speed chase because Rodney King wouldn’t stop. Rodney was drunk at the wheel after leaving a party. When the cops finally stopped Rodney, they were intimidated by his 6’3″ frame, so they started beating Rodney into submission for whatever reason. The cops didn’t care about the car cam that was filming every move by the cop, and several minutes later they almost killed Rodney King by beating. Months later four cops were put on trial for violation civil rights and other violations. Three were found guilt by the fourth cop was a miss trial.
The effect by this ruling by the court was the LA riots. It was a war zone; by the time the police, the U.S. Army, Marines and National Guard restored order, the casualties included 53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, more than 7,000 fires, damages to 3,100 businesses, and nearly $1 billion in financial losses. The world was watching while people were dragged from their cars and trucks only to be beating in the streets in revenge for years of police brutality in the inner cities. Americans watched in horror and some thought this would spread from city to city as the police refused to send cops into cities to suppress violence. This was when everyone realized that race relations in this country wasn’t settled.
Rodney King (the victim of the beating) came out in from of the world and said the words that are still ringing in people’s’ ears today, “Can’t we all just get along.” This was stunning to the black community, how could this man not be angry or happy for the violence made on behalf of him? After this statement, the violence soon died out. He was the only man who could’ve brought peace to the situation; this alcohol and drug abuser was used as a national figure to spread violence but he used this moment to bring the country together. Although he wasn’t a great speaker, we’ll got the message.
Rodney King changed America for the better, just because you’re addicted to drug and alcohol doesn’t mean you don’t have a message. In fact, many people learned the lessons of life from Rodney, we should listen to everyone. The LA PD changed how they do business and later federal charges were filed on the four officers. The Federal jury found Officer Laurence Powell and Sergeant Stacey Koon guilty, and they were sentenced to 32 months in prison. The other two officers Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseño were acquitted of all charges.
The country was happy because some justice was given to Rodney King and the black community. For too long in American history many black males have been beaten only to get no justice. The Rodney King federal case was supposed to be the case to restore trust in our justice system in the black community, but the very next year 1994 O.J.Simpson was charged with the death of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson. When, OJ was found not guilty, it reopened the racism in this country. The white community was out raged by the ruling but in the black community this was looked at as justification for past lynching and etc. Although no one knows for sure if OJ killed Nicole or not, this case still drives people crazy.
Fast-forward to 2012 and now we have the Trevor Martin case, this is Rodney King and OJ Simpson again. If the court finds George Zimmerman innocent, then will we have a repeat of the LA Riots, let’s hope not, this country needs to come together to fight real problems. A house divided can’t sustain itself, Rodney King understood this and may he rest in peace.