BLACK HISTORY — March 3, 1991
Los Angeles police savagely beat black motorist Rodney King on this day in 1991. George Holliday, an innocent bystander, videotaped much of the beating from his balcony, and sent the footage to local news station KTLA.
The videotape showed four officers surrounding King. They hit him repeatedly with batons and kicked him in the head and body as he lay on the ground. Other officers stood by and did nothing.
Parts of the footage were aired around the world, and raised public concern about police treatment of black men in the United States.
Four officers were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force.
Three were acquitted of all charges. The jury acquitted the fourth of assault with a deadly weapon but failed to reach a verdict on the use of excessive force. The all-white jury deadlocked at 8–4 in favor of acquittal at the state level.
The acquittals triggered the 1992 Los Angeles rebellion in which 55 people were killed and over 2,000 were injured.
The acquittals also led to the federal government’s obtaining grand jury indictments against the cops for violations of King’s civil rights. The trial of the four policemen in a federal district court ended on April 16, 1992, with two of the officers being found guilty. They were sent to prison.
King drowned in his swimming at his home in Colton, Calif., on June 17, 2012. He was 47. See Video.