The beating of Rodney King 20 years ago Thursday marked the end of a 100-mph car chase and the beginning of a chain of events that would forever change Los Angeles, its police department and the racial conversation in the United States.
King, then a 25-year-old convicted robber on parole, admittedly had a few drinks under his belt as he headed home from a friend's house.
When he spotted a police car following him, he panicked, thinking he would be sent back to prison.
Four police officers, all of them white, struck King more than 50 times with their wood batons and shocked him with an electric stun gun.
The dramatic video of the episode appeared on national TV two days later. At last, blacks in L.A. -- and no doubt in other parts of the country -- had evidence to document the police brutality many had known but most of America had always denied or tolerated.
Shaft (the Movie) was about 5 years before I could drive. Of course this fact doesn't preclude me from listing to da de da da de da da de da ... dummm
Back OT, I do remember the curtain of smoke when looking to the East from the Beverly Center, cars headed West on Beverly Blvd with windows rolled up and doors locked, the business owner down the street on Beverly that set fire to his own furniture for the insurance, a multi-ethnic crowd looting the Radio shack on La Cienega and Pico. Unlike 1965, These riots had come within 1 mile of Beverly Hills. BHPD barricaded off Wilshire Blvd to the East at Robertson, only allowing verified "residents" passage through. People literally driving into the Fedco parking lot on La Cienega and Rodeo, and taking their time to browse then loot.
As darkness came, from my house (I lived on a hill facing East with a view of South Central and beyond) I could see what looked like the aftermath of a military fighter plane strafing run as the glow of one burning building after another dotted the horizon in various rows of straight lines. It was beyond surreal.
I had a hard time sleeping as the soot and ash where so heavy around the city that I couldn't breath through my nose. There was a curfew, but few LAPD officers to enforce it. People calling from the East Coast thinking all of SoCal was in flames, at least that's what the media told them.
Heh, heh. I moved out here from Chi-town back in '97 and remember that Fedco. My family lived with my MIL in the Sec/8 apartments just to the east of there for 3 months while we looked for a house. Imagine a white boy from Armour Square (a block north of the old Comiskey Park) on a '76 Goldwing riding through there every day, going to work. I got along well enough; I always had beer to hand out to anyone with a story and an hour to tell it.
There are foundations left over from the riots, still empty to this day, around the south side of Koreatown...