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Sat, 04.03.1965

Rodney King, Laborer, and Police Brutality Victim born

Rodney G. King

*Rodney King was born on this date in 1965. He was a Black laborer and civil rights symbol (police brutality).

Rodney Glen King was born in Sacramento, California, the son of Ronald and Odessa King. He grew up in Pasadena, California, one of five children. He had a learning disability early in his life and his father, Ronald, died at the age of 42. As an adult, King was a construction worker with a drinking problem.

In 1989, King robbed a store in Monterey Park, California. He threatened to hit the Korean store owner with an iron bar he was carrying. King stole two hundred dollars in cash during the robbery and was caught, convicted, and sentenced to two years of imprisonment and released after serving a year of the sentence.

His life changed dramatically after being the victim of an incident of police brutality involving the Los Angeles Police Department on March 3, 1991. A bystander, George Holliday, witnessed the beating and videotaped much of the incident from a distance. At the time of the beating, King had been twice divorced and had fathered three children. The videotaped footage showed seven officers surrounding the solitary King, with several Los Angeles police officers repeatedly striking a helpless King with their batons while the other officers stood alongside, watching without taking action to stop the beating.

A portion of this videotaped footage was aired by news agencies worldwide, causing public outrage that increased tension between the African American community and the Los Angeles Police Department and increased public anger over police brutality, racism, and other social inequalities in the city of Los Angeles, California.

The four police officers who took part in the beating were later tried in the Los Angeles County Superior Court for the beating. Three police officers were acquitted, and the jury failed to reach a verdict regarding the fourth police officer. The announcement of the police officers' acquittals subsequently sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots, in which thousands of people rioted over six days, leading to 53 deaths and over two thousand injuries. These riots ended only after soldiers from the United States Army National Guard and United States Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton, California, were called in to assist local authorities. Twenty years later, King wrote and published his book “The Riot Within.”

On June 17, 2012, King's fiancée Cynthia Kelly found him dead in his swimming pool. He was transferred by ambulance to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, California. King was pronounced dead at the hospital at 6:11 am.

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