Rodney King, the Riots, Aftermath, Etc.
There have already been a lot of retrospective articles about Watergate, since that scandal started unraveling forty years ago. And now with Rodney King’s death yesterday, everybody is reminiscing about the Rodney King era: his videotaped police beatdown in March 1991, the 1992 acquittal of the four LAPD goons by an all-white jury and the subsequent L.A. riots that killed fifty-three people and injured over 2,000.
By 1992, most people thought civil rights violations being acquitted by jurors was a relic of the Deep South in the 1950s and early ‘60s. But that fantasy disappeared when twelve white trash inbreds watched the 81-second video of Rodney King being clubbed 56 times, watched the video again and again, and went “Huh? Police brutality? Where?”
(Two of the LAPD Gang of Four were later convicted on federal civil rights charges.)
Most people over a certain age probably remember where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the four LAPD knuckledraggers being acquitted, and/or heard the news that L.A. was on fire.
I remember some of the jokes going around: L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates called for a two-week waiting period before you could buy a video camera. (At least I think it was just a joke.)
Adam Sandler called Daryl Gates a douchebag on Saturday Night Live during one of his Opera Man skits; “bagga doucha” to be exact. Also:
Q. How many LAPD officers does it take to push a suspect down the stairs?
A. None. He fell all by himself.
And a few rock bands got in their two cents worth. Living Color expressed their angst in a track from their Stain album (1993). And on the Judgment Night soundtrack (also 1993), there was a reference to “L.A. ’92” on this Slayer/Ice-T collaboration.