25 years later, Rodney King's beating stirs emotions in L.A.

25 years later, Rodney King's beating stirs emotions in L.A.
Rodney King at his home in Rialto in 2012. (Los Angeles Times)

The Rodney King beating on March 3, 1991, and the violent uprising in 1992 after the Los Angeles Police Department officers who beat King were acquitted, are two of the most traumatic events to have taken place in Los Angeles.

Now, 25 years after the videotaped assault on King, some readers are recalling their personal experiences with that dark chapter in the city's history. The emotions of these letter writers are raw, sometimes even jarring. They are reflective of a city still unsettled by events that happened more than two decades ago.


Kharis Catchings of Los Angeles recalls meeting King:

I met the late Rodney King at a book signing at Eso Won Books in Leimert Park in 2012, after his book "The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion to Redemption," had been published. To watch him vividly recount the details of the night he was beaten in Lake View Terrace in March 1991 was and still is deeply moving.

No one should have to go through what he experienced. No one. King was not perfect, and like all of us he had his issues, his problems, his joys and his demons. There will never be a justifiable explanation for what those LAPD officers, and in a sense anyone who says he deserved what happened to him, did to him.

It was a sad commentary then, as it is now, that we as a society blame the victims.

Rodney: I'd like to think you're in a better place and I hope you found the peace and resolve that this world could not afford you.

Linda Loding of Pasadena writes of her son's death during the 1992 uprising in Los Angeles:

My 24-year-old son got up on a burning building to try to save it during the 1992 riots. He fell through the roof and died. It's considered a homicide because someone torched the building.

I have had to live with the loss of my son for all these years. The person who set fire to the building was never found.

Yes, King was beaten. Did he resist arrest? Yes he did. Did the jury that acquitted the officers get it wrong? Maybe. There are good and bad people of all races and professions.

All I can say is get over it. I've had to.

Menlo Park resident Henry Organ praises the man who filmed King's beating:

The footage of the assault on King is significant because it provided some of the earliest visual evidence of what is now being exposed as frequent abuses by some law enforcement in communities of color. Previously, such brutal behavior was dismissed as hearsay.

The King videotaping was done spontaneously by an ordinary citizen. It foreshadowed what people do today with their smartphones. Public response has been so overwhelming that many police departments are putting cameras in their patrol cars and on officers.

The filming of the beating was not extraordinary. What was extraordinary was the heroism of the individual to make the videotape available to the public — heroism in the sense that it could have cost him his life. For that, the videographer, George Holliday, should receive national honors.


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