Join 3,495 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Can't we all just get along?
June 17, 2012 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Rodney King, victim of a 1991 police brutality incident that became the catalyst for civil unrest and rioting a year later, was found dead by his fiancee at the bottom of his swimming pool. He was 47.

In the years since his time in the public eye, King struggled with his addiction to alcohol, running afoul of the law several more times, prompting him to seek help for his alcoholism. In his own words, "What I've learned to do is to arrest my addiction. Arrest it myself, so I don't get arrested."

He appeared on Season 2 of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, and returned on an episode of Season 3 to address the new group of celebs seeking treatment [auto-playing video, 5:25 minutes]. He also participated in the first season of that show's spin-off, Sober House, one episode featuring him revisting the site of his beating to read a letter of forgiveness intended for the officers involved.

Earlier this year, he had published his story in a book titled The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption.
posted by radwolf76 (134 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
.
posted by box at 10:05 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 10:05 AM on June 17, 2012


Another death from Celebrity Rehab. Bleah.

.
posted by Melismata at 10:06 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


All these years later, I still cannot understand how that jury acquitted those cops except by invoking racism from top to bottom. Who knows what would have happened to Mr. King had he not been at the center of that shitstorm, but he never did get justice.

.
posted by spitbull at 10:08 AM on June 17, 2012 [23 favorites]


. Such a shame, he seemed to have been getting his life back on track recently. 47 is too young.
posted by arcticseal at 10:11 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, fuck. It seemed like he was working hard at finding some peace and calm, and getting somewhere with it.
posted by pajamazon at 10:14 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see the contract the Celebrity Rehab "stars" have to sign before they go on the show. He must be protected from here to high heaven against what appears on the screen to be the grossest of malpractice.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:16 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just a few weeks ago he was on CBC radio show Q with Jian Ghomeshi talking about his memoir, life, politics, etc. Click here to listen. It's worth a listen.

.
posted by Fizz at 10:18 AM on June 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is as good an epitaph as any for him, from his recent interview with LA Times writer Pat Morrison:
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, which [I] wasn't cut out to be. I didn't go to school to be "Rodney King" and [be] beat up by cops and thrust into the limelight. It's taken years to get used to the situation I'm in in life and the weight it holds. One of the cops in the jail [in a later encounter] said: You know what? People are going to know who you are when you're dead and gone. A hundred years from now, people still going to be talking about you. It's scary, but at the same time it's a blessing.
(http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-morrison-king-20120421,0,1264874.column)
posted by Creosote at 10:18 AM on June 17, 2012 [58 favorites]


.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:20 AM on June 17, 2012


It's sad and interesting how Rodney King was expected by some to be a saint. King didn't need to be a saint to be free from undue beatings. You don't need to earn that right.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:24 AM on June 17, 2012 [108 favorites]


.
posted by lalochezia at 10:26 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by cashman at 10:26 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by Jilder at 10:27 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by localroger at 10:27 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by Anitanola at 10:28 AM on June 17, 2012


His NPR interview from April turned into a driveway moment for me. What a awful (awe-full) thing for an ordinary person to be swept up by the tide of history. And what kind of grace did it take for that person to say "Can we all just get along?"
posted by BrashTech at 10:29 AM on June 17, 2012 [23 favorites]


He didn't get justice, and he didn't get peace. This sucks.

.
posted by tzikeh at 10:36 AM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


.
posted by tykky at 10:41 AM on June 17, 2012


I really rooted for him after seeing him on Celebrity Rehab. He obviously had troubles long before his beating, but the cultural significance of the event very clearly weighed on him. What a curse to have to carry, and I'm sure he dealt with it as well as he was able. It made me think much more critically about ordinary people, people who just want to get through the day, who suddenly find themselves at the center of history. What a weight to know at 26 (really? He was only 26 when that happened?), that people will examine your life and seek to find some sort of meaning from it, and judge you if you can't provide it. I can't imagine how terrifying that must have been.
posted by lilac girl at 10:41 AM on June 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


.

The Los Angeles Times published a piece on 23 April of this year about Rodney King: The past still grips Rodney King
He confides that he is at peace with what happened to him. "I would change a few things, but not that much," he says. "Yes, I would go through that night, yes I would. I said once that I wouldn't, but that's not true. It changed things. It made the world a better place."

He is 47 now — jobless and virtually broke. He says he cobbles together mortgage payments. Every so often he gets hired to pour concrete at a construction site.

He inhabits a world stocked with heartache and struggle. He calls himself a recovering addict but has not stopped drinking and possesses a doctor's clearance for medical marijuana. He suffers nightmares, flashbacks and raw nerves that echo the symptoms of a shellshocked survivor of war.
Reading the article is quite sad. He walke with a limp and had brain damage from the beating. His life after the riots – and the fame – was marked by addiction and obsession. He had stacks of newspapers on the floor of his house from the beating, the trial, the riots, and the aftermath.

One day, he was driving down the freeway, the next day he was beaten horribly. He became a national symbol and then a pop celebrity. When the spotlight moved on, he was left on his own and started sinking. At the end of the article, he is said to be smiling. After all that, the man still found joy in his life. It may have been paired with darkness and sadness, but he found it.

And therein perhaps there is a truth, of sorts. He had a life that was notable. It does not sound like a great life, or even a good life for the most part. A hard life. A life not of his choosing. But a significant life. A life more significant than he would have ever chosen, and for dark reasons. And I found myself wondering if he was smiling because he was significant. He did something with his life, even if that something was simply enduring.

It does not sound like he would be comfortable with being called a hero, and he did nothing heroic. He was an average guy – a construction worker – with a penchant for drink driving and drugs. Yet he did change things. He mentioned that he enabled Obama's rise. It would have happened eventually but taken longer without Rodney King, he says.

It is heartache of a story. This man's life essentially taken from him in 1991. After that, he was turned into a symbol, elevated, diminished, discarded. His biggest victory is that most people won't remember the names of those police officers, but they remember his name. And whilst that night became his life, he passed away knowing that he did something to better the world. He is a wonderfully fallible character, and now he can finally have the peace that was so elusive in his life.
posted by nickrussell at 10:43 AM on June 17, 2012 [48 favorites]


.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 10:44 AM on June 17, 2012


.

history collided with Rodney King, and he put up a brave fight, but in the end it's killed him.

I remember the riots (after the bullshit verdict) more vividly than Mr. King's initial beating. I was safe, a thousand miles away from LA (Vancouver), and I recall just how brutal it was to watch some of the footage that was coming in -- in particular, that helicopter shot of a truck driver being dragged onto the street by the mob and pulverized. A few words came to mind c/o a History prof in my university days. "By the time history catches up to you, there's not much you can do. It's like getting caught out in a hurricane." Which is where that truck driver was, caught out in a hurricane, and Mr. King before him.

And then there's a few other words c/o that prof (I forget his name but not his thinking). "This isn't to say that you can't affect history. Of course, you can. But it has to be before that mild breeze that's blowing turns into a wind, turns into a gale, turns into a hurricane."
posted by philip-random at 10:45 AM on June 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


.
posted by Unioncat at 10:47 AM on June 17, 2012


All these years later, I still cannot understand how that jury acquitted those cops except by invoking racism from top to bottom. Who knows what would have happened to Mr. King had he not been at the center of that shitstorm, but he never did get justice.

Partly--and I'm not excusing anyone here--because the video that everyone saw on the news every night for a year was not the whole video, but the one that the jury saw was. When the video first went to KTLA (the first news channel to get it), an editor decided the first few seconds were too blurry, and so he cut it; there was no real malice there or anything, just a video editor's concern for clear pictures. Yet those first few seconds showed Rodney King rushing/approaching (pick your descriptive verb) the cops. He appears much more aggressive in those first few seconds.

Things like that continually came up in the trial. It is very difficult, for instance, to look at the career record of Stacy Koon (the sergeant who took charge of the scene) and paint him as a racist; the man dropped down and gave unprotected CPR to a black transvestite prostitute with open sores on his mouth at a time when people were still freaked out thinking you could get AIDS from kissing.

That trial was never the slam-dunk the media portrayed it as at the time, and in fact continued to portray it as after the fact, because the media never has a role in presenting false expectations (WMDs much?), right?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:50 AM on June 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


Sorry, quick detail to what I said: That edited video from KTLA was the one that all the other major news networks ran with, and kept running with. So when the jury first saw that original, unedited video, suddenly they're left wondering what else they don't know?

Again, it doesn't excuse the actions of those officers. It doesn't make everything hunky-dory. But it suddenly creates a hell of a lot of doubt about the video and all the other evidence (and yes, again, this trial took place in an area that was predominantly white, relatively affluent and largely predisposed to give cops the benefit of a doubt).
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:52 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by domnit at 10:54 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:56 AM on June 17, 2012


"Can't we all just get along?"
posted by Cranberry at 10:57 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


helicopter shot of a truck driver being dragged onto the street by the mob and pulverised.

Reginald Denny
Hours after a Ventura County jury found Koon, Powell, Briseno and Wind not guilty on April 29, 1992, millions watched on TV as truck driver Reginald O. Denny was stopped at Florence and Normandie avenues, dragged from his truck and beaten unconscious with a brick, a tire iron and a fire extinguisher. He had more than 90 skull fractures.

He went through years of therapy, working on his speech and regaining the ability to drive. Now 56, he works as a boat mechanic in Lake Havasu, Ariz., and "he's getting along somewhat," a family member said.
None of the people involved did well. Two key victims, Rodney and Reginald, each going about their lives, caught in hurricanes, left with brain damage and destroyed lives. Two groups of four, from two races, languishing first in prison and now in aftermath. Of note is that the LAPD officer leading the Rodney King beating spent a few years in prison. The vigilante leading the Reginald Denny beating is serving life.

The timing of this story is quite coincidental with @ElSaborAsiatico's AskMe Has L.A. changed since the 90s? and our discussion from last week. Indeed it has, and at the tremendous personal costs of Rodney King, Reginald Denny, and many, many more.
posted by nickrussell at 11:02 AM on June 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yet those first few seconds showed Rodney King rushing/approaching (pick your descriptive verb) the cops. He appears much more aggressive in those first few seconds.

Unedited Video

He seems to run to the right of the screen, and that's about it. Then they just beat him the fuck down. It means pretty much nothing to me, since I'm sure I'm not the only one who has seen tape of white folks being completely belligerent, even aiming weapons at police, on national television (cops, etc) and not getting the snot beat out of them. There is no excuse for exonerating those officers, and pointing out that he ran toward the right in the early seconds of the video just isn't even worth mentioning to try to put that little nugget of doubt in the mind that the jury made anything close to a fair decision. Unless there is something on another tape somewhere that shows King doing something more than running at an officer. Once they have him down on the ground, cuff him.

Instead, they beat him like an animal.
posted by cashman at 11:06 AM on June 17, 2012 [24 favorites]


.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:08 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:08 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by jquinby at 11:08 AM on June 17, 2012


.
It takes a very big man to say this, FTA:

King said earlier this year he has forgiven the officers who beat him.

"Yes, I've forgiven them, because I've been forgiven many times," he said. "My country's been good to me ... This country is my house, it's the only home I know, so I have to be able to forgive -- for the future, for the younger generation coming behind me, so ... they can understand it and if a situation like that happened again, they could deal with it a lot easier."

posted by Renoroc at 11:10 AM on June 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the "He appeared more aggressive" stuff is bullshit. He was already on the ground and they were still beating the crap out of him, he obviously posed no threat
posted by delmoi at 11:11 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did King and Denny ever meet? Just curious.
posted by jonmc at 11:13 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


He deserved better. Rest in peace, Mr. King.
posted by smirkette at 11:14 AM on June 17, 2012


Be at peace, Mr. King.

.
posted by scody at 11:16 AM on June 17, 2012


The police aquittal had a lot less to do with the few seconds of uneduted video and a lot more to do with the fact that the trial was purposefully moved to Simi Valley, a predominantly white suburb (all but two of the jurers were white) with a high number of residents with relatives in law enforcement (I cannot find a cite, but I recall it as being one in four.)

The defense also claimed, without evidence, that King was on PCP, which gave him superhuman stegnth and necessitated the use of extreme force.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:16 AM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Cashman, having looked at that video, I simply don't agree with you. He gets up to "run to the right of the screen" where there are other cops in the way. That could be spun a lot of different ways. To say you don't agree with the jury is one thing; to claim there's no excuse for their verdict is another. Have you read the whole transcript of the trial?

Similarly, have you ever tried to cuff anyone? Ever tried it with someone who is considerably bigger than you are?

There was an awful lot that went wrong that night. Once more, I'm not trying to excuse any of it, but to think that this case was a simple issue of white (authority)-on-black violence is to ignore a huge amount of context.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:16 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by chunking express at 11:18 AM on June 17, 2012


Bunny is absolutely correct on the issues of the trial venue. It would be very difficult to find a venue more favorably predisposed to police than that one.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:20 AM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Do you know my name, before you tear me apart"
posted by Burhanistan at 11:29 AM on June 17, 2012


I remember when the verdict was announced, I was going through a drive-thru window. And I told the lady about the verdict and said that there were about to be problems. I had no idea just how crazy it would get though. I figured protests and issues, but I didn't think it would blow up like it did. And then the next day one of the lawyers at a building I worked in made it a point to tell me "Hey man, we're not all like that", apologizing for the obvious travesty of justice. That was so awesome on his part. Black folks often feel responsible when some black person does something, and that is probably the most vivid memory I have of a white person feeling the same thing.

In the years after the incidents Rodney King has come to be a "thing" more than a person, because his name is brought up in so much music and comedy.

Martin Lawrence. They didn't just whoop Rodney's ass. They whi-zah-zah-zooped Rodney's ass. ... But see, Rodney kept getting up because that's how black people are. We don't stay down for nobody".

Ice Cube's Who Got the Camera? Mentioned in everything from The Roots' Doin it Again to Casual's That's How It Is. The clip from another Ice Cube song - "We're going to do you like king! (what king?) - Rodney King! Martin Luther King and all those god damn kings from Africa!" The Reginald Denny/Rodney King skit on In Living Color, and just a bunch of others. He always seemed to me to be a troubled individual, but you can't let law enforcement just beat the shit out of citizens.
posted by cashman at 11:29 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


When the video first went to KTLA (the first news channel to get it), an editor decided the first few seconds were too blurry, and so he cut it; there was no real malice there or anything, just a video editor's concern for clear pictures. Yet those first few seconds showed Rodney King rushing/approaching (pick your descriptive verb) the cops. He appears much more aggressive in those first few seconds.

I can personally attest, under oath, that this is not true. I did a forensic analysis of those first few seconds of video, it was the decisive evidence in the second trial.

During the first trial, the defense argued that King charged the police officers, during the first few seconds of blurry, shaky video. They introduced a computer animation of stick figures that showed this scenario, but it was disallowed as it was speculation and had no probative value.

In my opinion, the reason the first trial ended in acquittal is the prosecution showed the video over and over, so many times that the jury became immune to its horrors. The videotape was analyzed in front of the jury, in slow motion, blow by blow, until it became an abstraction. There was no way they could empathize with the victim. They empathized with the LAPD officers, since they were asked to put themselves in the officer's place as each blow was shown on video, to determine what the officers' motivations were.

During the second trial, the Federal prosecutors used a smarter strategy. They would limit the viewing of the video so its impact would not be diluted. They also had something new: my frame-by-frame rotoscope of the first 12 seconds of blurry video. I will now release for the first time ever, a downloadable, low rez version of my enhancement of the video.

I noticed that the video contained a few reference marks that did not move: the tiny running lights on the side of King's car. I captured the video, frame by frame, then manually repositioned each frame so the light was in the same spot. The frame moves around the centered action, now the scene is stabilized and the frame shakes. The video is still blurry, I was asked not to deblur, so it would not induce bias or break the chain of evidence. But despite the blur, you can see what happened. This video catches the start of the incident, where things went wrong.

The defense claimed that during the blurry section of the video, King was aggressive and charged them, butting into one of the officers and trying to grab him in a bear hug. The stabilized video starts with King on his hands and knees, being tazed, as the officers stood several feet away. The tazer stops for a second, then King gets up and tries to run away from the officers, towards the back of his car. King is barely on his feet, when an officer moves forward and hits King with a nightstick blow to the throat, dropping him to his knees again. Then the beating starts, as the camera snaps into focus.

Clearly the 4 LAPD officers were lying. King never had an opportunity to charge at the officers. During jury deliberations of the second trial, the only evidence the jurors asked for was a copy of the videotape, including this enhancement, and a videotape machine with a slow motion replay mechanism. The verdict: 2 guilty of civil rights violations, 2 not guilty.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:40 AM on June 17, 2012 [610 favorites]


Once more, I'm not trying to excuse any of it, but to think that this case was a simple issue of white (authority)-on-black violence is to ignore a huge amount of context.
posted by scaryblackdeath


Man, I'm pretty sure this isn't the right place to have this conversation. You may have a solid, rational point to make. But think of this as being a wake. A man has died before his time. Do you really want to stir things up now?

Wait a few weeks.
posted by philip-random at 11:40 AM on June 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


.
posted by rtha at 11:44 AM on June 17, 2012


[Folks, please cool it a little.]
posted by cortex at 11:45 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by KGMoney at 11:49 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by DreamerFi at 11:50 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:52 AM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by DigDoug at 11:52 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Poor fella.

.
posted by MissySedai at 11:59 AM on June 17, 2012


Charlie, flagged for awesomeness. That deserves a sidebar.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:00 PM on June 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


yeah, Charlie, today you are the reason Metafilter can be so amazing.
Also, .
posted by matt_od at 12:07 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


What a horrible shame his death is. Whenever I saw King on television, I wanted to give him a huge hug, a reaction that very, very few people have ever invoked in me in my life.
posted by item at 12:10 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by theplotchickens at 12:19 PM on June 17, 2012


I can't imagine the awful weight that comes with trying to live as both a person and a symbol.

Saw him on TV a couple months back being interviewed about the Trayvon Martin case, and it was plain to see that he was still quite deeply scarred by everything that had happened to him.

I still haven't sorted out what I believe about what happens after death on this plane, but he is one of those who makes me hope with all my heart that some measure of peace is offered to the deserving, whose number I feel he is certainly among.

.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:21 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


My, how things have "advanced" since then. Today he'd probably have been tasered to death, and afterwards mostly just a lot of shrugging would have ensued. No muss, no fuss.

.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:24 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fantastic, charlie don't surf. Thank you.
posted by cashman at 12:27 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by jammy at 12:27 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by Madamina at 12:31 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:40 PM on June 17, 2012


This man did the most selfless and unsordid thing I can remember in the long and squalid history of our race relations. He stood to gain nothing by calling for peace and forgiving his injuries, other than living up to his religion in a way almost no one does. He performed one unstained, noble public act and should be remember with honor for that alone. He truly deserves the name of peacemaker.
posted by Balok at 12:40 PM on June 17, 2012 [31 favorites]


.
posted by holyrood at 1:00 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by 4ster at 1:00 PM on June 17, 2012


It's sad and interesting how Rodney King was expected by some to be a saint. King didn't need to be a saint to be free from undue beatings. You don't need to earn that right.

Most of the saints got to be saints by being victims of undeserved violence.

.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:04 PM on June 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


.
posted by The Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas at 1:05 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:16 PM on June 17, 2012


Man, I'm pretty sure this isn't the right place to have this conversation. You may have a solid, rational point to make. But think of this as being a wake. A man has died before his time. Do you really want to stir things up now?

I sincerely apologize to anyone who thought I was trying to stir anything up, cause controversy, troll or whatever. Someone brought up the point of not understanding how the acquittal happened. I brought up an answer. Again, I'm not trying to defend the officers in anything I have said, and I'm a little disappointed that I can't seem to be taken at my word for that.

Charlie, as has been said already, thank you for your post. I hadn't seen any of that before.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:20 PM on June 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


.
posted by byanyothername at 1:31 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by flug at 1:36 PM on June 17, 2012


Once, just once I'd like a happy ending.

.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:45 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:54 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by goshling at 1:58 PM on June 17, 2012


charlie don't surf, wow!
posted by JHarris at 1:59 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, I'm incredibly sorry this man is dead and under such bizarre circumstances... but I'm also grateful for Charlie Don't Surf's comment; this is what makes Metafilter great.

RIP, Mr. King.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:22 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by limeonaire at 2:26 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by newdaddy at 2:28 PM on June 17, 2012


Like a King - Ben Harper
posted by Kevtaro at 3:36 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by Feisty at 3:59 PM on June 17, 2012


I, too, heard the CBC interview that Fizz linked to above; it really is worth a listen. King's gracious nature really comes across. This is sad news indeed.

RIP Mr. King.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:02 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:24 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by BibiRose at 4:29 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:33 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by wiskunde at 5:35 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by Mitheral at 6:05 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by dismas at 6:50 PM on June 17, 2012


Brought here again by the sidebar comment. I was young when the whole case erupted, and didn't really understand it, but that video is horrific. Thanks for posting charlie.

.
posted by codacorolla at 6:53 PM on June 17, 2012


The big moment, the big line, that he's remembered for is a powerful moment, and there are worse things to be remembered for. That said, it's still just unacceptable that he had to go through what made that moment powerful. Which is kind of what he was talking about in that moment -- it was one of those moments where someone who's in pain at the hands of the world points out to the world what it's doing to itself. The person who can respond with such anguish in that circumstance was probably never going to be a really happy man at that age. But: unacceptable. If he's going to be an unhappy man, let him be that way naturally, not with help from a bunch of police batons and taser-shocks.
posted by lodurr at 6:54 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is sad, but I'm glad Mr. King got to hang around as long as he did. Because as I mentioned in an Ask thread the other day, things have changed in a big way: in the LAPD and in L.A. as a city.

I would never be so naive as to say racism is no longer a problem, but we've come an incredibly long way since then.

To a great extent the Mr. King's famous question has been answered: Yes, we can all get along.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:00 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:07 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:10 PM on June 17, 2012


.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:19 PM on June 17, 2012


I was very young when the riots happened. Could someone explain what changed in the aftermath that has prevented riots from happening again? With cell phone cameras and no shortage of bad cops, you would think there would be riots somewhere in the country once a week.
posted by miyabo at 7:24 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Could someone explain what changed in the aftermath that has prevented riots from happening again?

There are plenty of riots - they're just sports related. Back then I think the video was so clear and at least for me and the people I was around, no jury could be bold enough to tell us our own eyes lied. Then it happened.

Thinking about Oscar Grant's situation, there was video there, but even though it seemed to be complete negligence on officer Mehrle (sp), it wasn't like the Rodney King beating, which was clearly intentional, and even flamboyantly intentional. They were swinging for the fences. And even after that, there were organized protests.

I think for non sports riots you have to have something clearly wrong (with video), and then the perpetrator(s) is let off scott free by the state. Of course the current related "charged" case is the Trayvon Martin case, but there will be no riots because there is no video and protests and anger were at the fact the killer remained unarrested for something like 45 days afterward.

And to an extent, all the things that happened after the King verdict are in the minds of anyone or any organization that is about to put forth some horrible decision that treats life like toilet paper.
posted by cashman at 8:19 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
47 ... too fucking young.
posted by echolalia67 at 8:42 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:58 PM on June 17, 2012


The man was just too young to die. He and Mr. Denny both got beaten and permanently injured for no logical reason and that should make anyone sad.

Much I did not know at the time or later was revealed by Charlie Don't Syrf

Thanks!

.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:21 PM on June 17, 2012


.

My disbelief and outrage over the incident and the outcome of the trial continue to this day.
posted by hippybear at 9:25 PM on June 17, 2012


Thank you, Charlie Don't Surf for The Truth.

.
posted by pianoboy at 10:27 PM on June 17, 2012


How terrible it is that what it takes sometimes to humanize The Other is a clear, relatable narrative of unjust abuse. You could not listen to Rodney King speak and fail to empathize and to pity. His gift, his curse, was to be like an open, throbbing nerve. It is hard to live like that, but just through living he changed the way people in LA think and feel about the people on the other side of the freeway. He drove impaired too often to be called a good man, but he did more good for the world than most.

.
posted by Scram at 10:53 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Only 8 years older than me, what? That breaks my heart. The beating happened just before I graduated from high school; I didn't know at 17 how young a 26 year old was.
posted by desuetude at 11:50 PM on June 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:59 AM on June 18, 2012


.
I just wished the LAPD had truly learned their lesson and prevented the murder of Kelly Thomas.
posted by Drumhellz at 1:29 AM on June 18, 2012


.
The LAPD had nothing to do with the murder of Kelly Thomas. That was Fullerton, 30 miles away.
posted by calwatch at 1:36 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I realized that about 30 seconds after I posted it. I should have said that I just wished that police departments in general had learned their lesson.
posted by Drumhellz at 1:39 AM on June 18, 2012


Charlie: thank you. Evidence is good.

My recollection is this was the first time (outside of a war zone) that someone had the video. Without the video, it's just another case of 'he said/they said', and would have barely scratched local news.

When Oscar Grant was shot at the BART station, "a crowd of onlookers - many wielding cameras", caught what happened from multiple angle. The cameras were on cellphones. Many witnesses, much evidence.

March 22: "Illinois lawmakers have defeated a measure to allow private citizens to make audio recordings of police officers on the job." At least one higher court judge declared this type of law unconstitutional. This is a battle which is still ongoing.

Evidence is good. Even good evidence can be misinterpreted. So, Charlie, thanks again.
posted by dragonsi55 at 4:31 AM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


.
posted by toerinishuman at 4:36 AM on June 18, 2012


On another note:

The Reginald Denny/Rodney King skit on In Living Color

Jim Carrey's "Achey Breaky Head" was the single most gasp-inducing, subversive, healing piece of comedy I ever saw. Gilbert Gottfried's 9/11 "Aristocrats" piece had a similiar effect. Richard Pryor's life. In Living Color said things in a way which could not otherwise be said.

'Cause no one ever said
That they were gonna treat me like a King"

posted by dragonsi55 at 4:44 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


.

The important lesson of Rodney King: if you're ever having the shit beaten out of you, lie perfectly still and take it, or it's your own fault.

Let's also not wallpaper over the fact that his "can't we all just get along?" plea was largely met with mockery and derision. This guy was beaten several times.
posted by Legomancer at 4:45 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Could someone explain what changed in the aftermath that has prevented riots from happening again?

I don't know that anything changed specifically in the aftermath. Look at St Petersburg, or Cincinnati, or most recently, 0akland.
posted by corb at 6:13 AM on June 18, 2012


Scaryblackdeath, you're right to bring up the other take on what happened. Part of why King's beating had so little long-term systemic consequence was because, like many events, it split into two implausible stories, with one side arguing that King's PCP-fueled superpowers made him a threat to the cops after he'd been whacked in the spine, and the other side (and many here) insisting that white cops just like punching black people and white jurors think that's awesome and that's all there is to it. With no plausible explanation, there was no plausible systemic response, and you're absolutely right to keep people aware of how the story looked from the other side.

Back to King's wake... Obviously, King was no saint, as he'd tell you himself. But for one moment, the whole country was listening to what he had to say, and he did the right thing. Few among us would be so humane, or so lucky as to have the right words come. R.I.P.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:48 AM on June 18, 2012


.
posted by joedan at 9:24 AM on June 18, 2012


Can't we all just .
posted by Gelatin at 9:31 AM on June 18, 2012


"can't we all just get along?"

Everyone misremembers the quote like this, but what he actually said was "can we all get along?"

Here is the footage:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sONfxPCTU0
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:45 AM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Let's also not wallpaper over the fact that his "can't we all just get along?" plea was largely met with mockery and derision.

I was an adult paying a lot of attention to the news at the time and I don't remember it that way. Yes, there was the aforementioned In Living Color sketch, but that wasn't mockery, not even close -- at least, not of Rodney King or Reginald Denny. Most of the people I knew seemed a little shocked and chagrined by it. I think it was the unrehearsed nature of the thing. He's said since that he didn't plan to say what he said, it just came out that way. It was so obvious that no one had put him up to this and he had nothing to gain from it.

Well, no shit we couldn't get along. But here was someone who was not only not ashamed to point out that we claimed to expect better from ourselves, but also not ashamed to get visibly and authentically distraught about that fact in public. He might not have been in his right mind at the time, but he said something that a lot of people recognized needed to be said, by someone with the moral standing to say it.
posted by lodurr at 9:53 AM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


[crowd chants "Rodney King"]
Marcus: "Rodney King"? What's that supposed to mean?
Pip: He's that guy.

.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:55 AM on June 18, 2012


.
posted by introp at 10:13 AM on June 18, 2012


I was an adult paying a lot of attention to the news at the time and I don't remember it that way.

I wasn't an adult at the time. I was a little younger then, and more self-absorbed than to pay attention to news stories half a country away. But I absolutely remember adults and teens using the phrase "Can't we all just get along?" purely in a mocking way. In fact, I heard someone use it that way just last week.

The adults you associated with may not have used that language, but I assure you other adults were, and it's continued for the last twenty years.
posted by corb at 10:13 AM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Saying that people use that phrase in a mocking way is very different from saying that Rodney King was mocked for what he said. And for that matter, it's also very different from mocking the sentiment. For example, if Janie and Billy are fighting and Marky pipes up 'can't we all just get along?' as a way to get adult attention by being a goody two shoes, I can easily imagine someone mocking him for it.
posted by lodurr at 10:23 AM on June 18, 2012


RIP. You deserve it.
.
posted by luckynerd at 1:19 PM on June 18, 2012


The important lesson of Rodney King: if you're ever having the shit beaten out of you, lie perfectly still and take it, or it's your own fault.

That's what Daryl Gates said, he was the LAPD Police Chief when the Rodney King incident occurred. Gates actually said that children should not be allowed to graduate from high school without taking a class in how to behave while being arrested, emphasis on total surrender.

Gates actually blamed the beating of King on insufficient force. One of the officers (Powell IIRC) had trouble passing his baton drills, he could not strike with enough force to get a passing grade, so he had to work out and lift weights. Gates publicly declared that Powell should have hit King hard enough to incapacitate him with one blow of the baton, rather than beat him into submission.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:04 PM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


What happened to Charlie's video? I'm getting a 28kb file.
posted by CarlRossi at 11:39 AM on June 19, 2012


.
posted by lapolla at 2:21 PM on June 19, 2012


Carl, it appears to be working OK for me, but this is my Dropbox account, it better work on my machine. The file is a Quicktime .mov in a very old format (Sorsensen SV3 I think) that I made a long time ago. It was formatted for QT Streaming Server and I am not even sure if it plays on modern devices like an iPad. It is very low rez and it's showing as only 532k on disk. When I use the link in a browser, I see this file in jwplayer, did you try the download button in the upper right instead? Actually, everyone should download it as the .mov, jwplayer seems to cut off the first half second or so.

If anyone can't see the video, PM me and I'll see if I can make alternate arrangements.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:49 PM on June 19, 2012


.
posted by oneironaut at 2:37 PM on June 20, 2012


The video may get rate limited as dropbox only allows so much bandwidth directed at public files...
posted by stratastar at 12:03 AM on June 21, 2012


I don't think I knew at the time that he was only 26. Or maybe I did, but since I was 21, it didn't hit me in heart the way that it's doing now at almost-42. So young!

May you be at peace, Mr. King.
posted by Lexica at 9:42 PM on June 22, 2012


.

also, holy shit, charlie don't surf, talk about being part of history.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:30 AM on June 23, 2012


I got it. Thanks for your help. My guess is that it was a dropbox cap.
posted by CarlRossi at 12:15 PM on June 23, 2012


I clicked on cashman's link to the unedited video.

YouTube: "This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy on shocking and disgusting content."
posted by moira at 1:58 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was very young when the riots happened. Could someone explain what changed in the aftermath that has prevented riots from happening again? With cell phone cameras and no shortage of bad cops, you would think there would be riots somewhere in the country once a week.

With Rodney King a dam broke. Years upon years of beatings and mistreatment that people could do nothing about because the perpetrators had power and lied in the faces of the judges and their victims and were believed, and/or the system of power simply didn't care what happened to the victims because they were lower class, not white....
The Rodney King video broke their lies open for the whole world to see for the first time. There was vindication. The years of rage and pain and frustration and hate that had had to be suppressed because of the absolute futility of seeking justice broke through and out in a moment of singular, unprecedented freedom.
Freedom took many forms, but considering the forces that had been so long repressed, boiled down to pure emotion, the riots weren't a surprise at all.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

- A Dream Deferred
by Langston Hughes

posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 4:35 AM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


« Older Action Half-Life is a multiplayer modification tha...  |  Snowdrifter (single link Vimeo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments