Three days before the rioting began, the Rev. Cecil L. Murray took to the pulpit for his Sunday sermon.
“Be cool,” Murray implored. “Even in anger, be cool.”
For weeks, the 62-year-old pastor of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church had watched anger and distrust grow in his community with each replaying of the video — the inescapable footage showing Los Angeles police officers cruelly beating Rodney King.
“And if you're gonna burn something down, don't burn down the house of the victims, brother! Burn down the Legislature! Burn down the courtroom!” he said.
His words were an appeal for calm, an effort to temper brewing frustrations as the jury...