The Los Angeles Riots were the result of built-up rage in the African American Community that exploded after the acquittal of the police officers involved in the highly televised beating of Rodney King, who were perceived to use unnecessary force. The riots left 53 people dead, and 22 of the murders remain unsolved, as reported by Fox News.
The Events Leading to the Riots
On March 3, 1991, Rodney King was driving with two friends when the police attempted to pull him over for speeding. He was on probation at the time for a robbery charge and feared probation would be revoked if he was caught, so he led the California Highway Patrol on a high-speed chase, going at speeds of up to 115 miles per hour. Once King was captured, the LAPD believed he was resisting arrest and attempted to subdue him with a taser, which did not work. The beating that followed was videotaped and soon broadcast around the world repeatedly as proof of racial profiling and police brutality, as reported by Time. The video was shown repeatedly and yes, excessively on the news. The incident was a battle cry against police brutality, and people around the country were outraged at the excessive use of force by police. Rodney King was beaten, with batons, even after appearing to be subdued.
On March 30, 1991, Al Sharpton led “200 chanting demonstrators [and] lugged a wooden cross to police headquarters in a Good Friday protest of the notorious videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney G. King. Marchers chanted for the ouster of Police Chief Daryl F. Gates as they walked a few blocks from City Hall to Parker Center, where Sharpton left the cross on the ground.“
The Good Friday march was to make a “powerful statement”, according to Madelyn Chapman, spokesperson for Al Sharpton. She said, “blacks and Latinos in this country are being crucified”.
This case is reminiscent of the Trayvon Martin case, which has also been excessively reported. It makes one wonder how people will react if George Zimmerman is found innocent. Hopefully, lessons have been learned from the LA riots.
The Los Angeles Riots and the Unsolved Murders
Once the police involved were acquitted in the case, the riots in Los Angeles began; they lasted five days and left nearly 1,600 buildings destroyed or damaged and injured more than 2,300 people. The final cost of the riot was estimated at more than a billion dollars.
The Fox article tells the stories of each of the 22 murder victims, which include a man who stopped to help people involved in a head-on collision (he was gunned down on the road), a man who pleaded with looters not to burn down the store next to his home (he was shot in the eye), a man who stopped to use a payphone was shot in the chest, a man who was shot as he drove to check on his business (while he was dying, people robbed him and looted his car), a man who, despite the riots, continued to make grocery deliveries from his family store (he was shot four times, after being called a racial slur), a 15-year-old boy was shot in the head as he walked down the street, and others.
Rodney King pleaded, “Can’t we all get along”? The nation watched the riots unfold with horrifying scenes of people smashing windows, looting stores, and random beatings, such as the horrifying beating of Reginald Denny, who was dragged out of his car and attacked. Reginald Denny still has nerve damage and hearing loss from the attack. In an interview 10 years later, Denny said that “black folks saved my life.”
The thugs who used the opportunity to shut down LA were opportunists, who handled their rage by destroying countless lives and creating havoc. They injured thousands and deliberately murdered innocent people; many of those murders remain unsolved today.
There is no excuse for their behavior, as destruction is NEVER the answer. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
A new documentary will be airing on VH1 on May 1st regarding the Los Angeles Riots. Watch the preview (Warning: Graphic Language):
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