Twenty Years After the Rodney King Verdict
At the L.A. Times Festival of Books on Sunday, radio personality Warren Olney lead a panel discussion of the verdict in the Rodney King case.
In 1991, several LAPD police officers beat and tasered King after he refused to pull over on the 210 Freeway.
The beating was caught on tape and sparked accusations about racism within the LAPD.
When four of the policemen involved in King's beating were acquitted of all charges by a jury, thousands of Los Angeles residents took the streets for six days in what has come to be known as the L.A. Riots.
In addition to moderator Olney, host and executive producer of the KCRW radio show Which Way, LA?, the panel included Connie Rice, co-director and founder of the Advancement Project in Los Angeles, Gil Garcetti, former L.A. County District Attorney, and Jim Newton, a reporter for the L.A. Times who covered the story.
The panel discussed what happened to King, how and why the verdict came to be, and how the city responded.
Rice began by commenting on the nature of the King beating, describing it as "67 strikes with a steel batons, they broke his cheekbones, they knocked his teeth out."
She says that many people, including the police, referred to it as a "good beating."
She also commented that the police Tasered King in an attempt to make him lie flat on the ground, but she pointed out that being Tased makes it impossible to remain stationary.
Garcetti commented on why the police officers' verdict turned out as it did. He said everyone knew going into the trial that the verdict was going to come out how it did.
He also noted that there were no African Americans on the jury, which was a key factor in inciting the violence the followed the verdict.
Newton discussed his experience with the beginning of public violence toward the police. LAPD leaders were content with the verdict and did not seem to be concerned about a major public outcry following the trial.
When the crowd outside the police headquarters started to become violent, Newton said that the police "did nothing" because of the lack of leadership present.