People around us keep talking about Rodney King (who recently died at 47 years old). Considering his story unfolded when we were still in diapers, we decided to clarify why he's a symbol for civil rights.
- On March 3, 1991, a black man named Rodney King was caught by the Los Angeles police after a high-speed chase.
- Four officers excessively beat him with batons and Tasers, while witness George Holliday recorded the beating on tape.
- When the tape went public, people were further infuriated by the Los Angeles Police's treatment towards African Americans and Hispanics.
- Despite the gruesome video, mainly-white jury acquitted three of the four officers.
King Becomes a Symbol
- The court decision sparked one of the nation’s worst riots in history. More than 50 people were killed, 2,000 were injured and 9,500 were arrested. The rioting cost $1 billion in damages.
- King spoke during the riots saying, “People, I just want to say, can't we all get along? Can't we all get along?"
- The four officers were indicted in August of 1992 on federal civil rights charges. Two officers were sentenced to two years in prison, while King received $3.8 million.
- Black chief Wille Williams replaced LAPD Chief Darryl Gates and introduced changes to investigate the riots.