The Twentieth Anniversary Of The L.A. Riots... Less Than A Month Away...

Discussion in 'Race Relations/Racism' started by bayoubill, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. bayoubill
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    bayoubill aka Sheik Yerbouti... Supporting Member

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    Background:

    On March 3, 1991, Rodney King was driving west with two passengers on the Foothill Freeway (I-210) through the Lake View Terrace neighborhood of Los Angeles. The California Highway Patrol attempted to initiate a traffic stop. A high-speed pursuit ensued with speeds estimated at up to 115 mph, first over freeways and then through residential neighborhoods.

    After King finally came to a stop, the two passengers were placed in a patrol car while five LAPD officers (Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, and Rolando Solano) attempted to subdue King, who came out of the car last. In a departure from usual procedure, which is to tackle and cuff a suspect, King was tasered, kicked in the head, beaten with PR-24 batons for over one minute, then tackled and cuffed. The officers claimed that King was under the influence of PCP at the time of arrest, causing him to be very aggressive and violent towards the officers. A subsequent test for the presence of PCP turned up negative.

    In a later interview, King, who was on parole from prison on a robbery conviction and who had past convictions for assault, battery and robbery, said that, being on parole, he feared apprehension and being returned to prison for parole violations so he decided to resist apprehension.

    A short video segment that shows King crawling on the ground during the beating was shown repeatedly in television broadcasts.

    The footage of King being beaten by police while lying on the ground became a focus for media attention and a rallying point for activists in Los Angeles and around the United States. Coverage was extensive during the initial two weeks after the incident: the Los Angeles Times published forty-three articles about the incident, the New York Times published seventeen articles, and the Chicago Tribune published eleven articles. Eight stories appeared on ABC News, including a sixty-minute special on Primetime Live.

    Charges and Trial:

    The Los Angeles District Attorney subsequently charged four police officers, including one sergeant, with assault and use of excessive force. Due to the heavy media coverage of the arrest, the trial received a change of venue from Los Angeles County to the politically conservative city of Simi Valley in neighboring Ventura County. The jury was composed of ten Caucasians, one Hispanic, and one Asian. The prosecutor, Terry White, was black.

    On April 29, 1992, the seventh day of jury deliberations, the jury acquitted all four officers of assault, and acquitted three of the four of using excessive force. The jury could not agree on a verdict for the fourth officer charged with using excessive force. The verdicts were based in part on the first two seconds of a blurry, 13-second segment of the video tape that, according to journalist Lou Cannon, had not been seen by the general public because it had been edited out by television news stations.

    During those first two seconds of the video, it appears that King gets up off the ground and charges in the general direction of one of the police officers. During the next one minute and 19 seconds, King is beaten continuously by the officers. The officers testified that they tried to physically restrain King prior to the starting point of the videotape but, according to the officers, King was able to physically throw them off himself.

    The Riots:

    The riots, beginning the day of the verdicts, peaked in intensity over the next two days. A dawn-to-dusk curfew and deployment of the National Guard eventually worked to control the situation; eventually U.S. Army soldiers and United States Marines were ordered to the city to help quell disorder as well.

    Fifty-three (53) people died during the riots, and as many as 2,000 people were injured. Estimates of the material losses vary between about $800 million and $1 billion. Approximately 3,600 fires were set, destroying 1,100 buildings, with fire calls coming once every minute at some points. Widespread looting also occurred. Stores owned by Korean and other Asian immigrants were widely targeted, although stores owned by Caucasians and African Americans were targeted by rioters as well.

    Many of the disturbances were concentrated in South Central Los Angeles, which was primarily composed of African American and Hispanic residents. Half of all riot arrestees and more than a third of those killed during the violence were Hispanic.

    Smaller riots occurred in other cities such as San Francisco, Las Vegas in neighboring Nevada and as far east as Atlanta, Georgia.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012

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