Monday, June 18, 2012

Rodney King passed away this weekend. His death has given us time to pause and reflect on how the incident of his beating which was videotaped has affected our society. The LAPD got a black eye from their handling of the Rodney King videotaped beating. This is perhaps the first great example of something caught by a citizen journalist going viral through the media outlets. Now it's not uncommon for something that is caught to explode via You Tube. But twenty years ago, we weren't that sophisticated. My recollection of the beating was dismay and sadness. I thought, "How could the police beat somebody up like that?". Now, I realize that it was far too common back then and far too common even now. Perhaps now the incidents have a greater chance of getting seen by someone with an camera phone. How many people were stopped and beaten over the years where all evidence disappeared? The King incident triggered the L.A. riots as the officers who attacked him were acquitted. So sadness turned to misplaced anger and then I believe a few years later were the catalyst for O.J. Simpson to be found not guilty by a California jury. Rodney King could have been anyone, black white or hispanic. That's what made his story so powerful. As he died at a young age yesterday we see a man who never recovered from these events. He faced a number of criminal charges over the next couple of decades and could not kick his addictions. Hopefully, as we reflect over the next few days we will ponder if these events in the 1990's had any long term effect on race relations today.