The whipper-snappers of today might not know who Rodney King was, but I bet they’ve heard the timeless “Can’t we all just get along?” catchphrase that became synonymous with his beating by four Los Angeles police officers and the ensuing race riots of 1992. As a recap, Rodney — who was on parole for a robbery and driving with a blood alcohol level of twice the legal limit — led police on a high speed chase through L.A., then refused to get out of the car once he was finally caught, then refused to lie down on the ground when he was ordered, and STILL refused to lie on the ground even after being tased, so several police officers swarmed him and forcibly subdued him with batons. The forcible submission was caught on video by a passerby, who released the footage to the media, and the resulting public outcry of police brutality led to four police officers being tried for “excessive use of force.” The officers were ultimately acquitted, which incited a six-day riot in the streets Los Angeles that killed 53 people and injured over 2,000. Rodney was also a star on Celebrity Rehab and Sober House. Radar Online says:
Police in Rialto, California, received a 911 call from King’s fiancee, Cynthia Kelly, about 5:25 a.m. Officers found King at the bottom of the pool, and attempted to revive him. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
There were no signs of foul play, she said, and no obvious injuries on King’s body. There will be a formal drowning investigation and an autopsy.
When asked for comment, the L.A.P.D. said, “Ha ha… we all know black people can’t swim!” and then set a cross on fire. Sorry, but I had to cover both angles, just to be fair. That’s good journalism 101.
Footage from the riots: