I always felt sadness for Rodney King. He had a difficult life before and after his brutal and unjustified assault by the Los Angeles police department. His life is sad testament to the pain of addiction and racism.
His life was much too short, only 47 at his death today. But, as short as it was, he unintentionally called attention to the savage racism that abounds in this nation; the brutality of an increasingly unchecked, violent, and militarized police; and the complete brokenness of the “justice” system. Today, with his death, Rodney King reminds us that those who are disenfranchised by this country often die young.
But I choose to remember Rodney King for other reasons. I choose to remember his enormous heart that held no hatred or bitterness for the police officers who beat him nearly to death, for no good reason, and then were acquitted of their savage criminal conduct —only later were half of them to be found guilty in federal court. I hear him saying, “Can’t we all just get along?” I choose to remember him because his abuse by the police and their getting away with it inspired a city to rise up in violent protest to declare emphatically that they would not live in a police state sanctioned by a failed “justice” system.
Rodney King had no desire to be what he became to me: a common man hero of sorts, a symbol for justice and fairness for all people regardless of the difficulties and challenges they face, regardless of their race. Thank you, Rodney King. The senseless pain you suffered made the world just a little bit better.
Mr. King, Rest in Peace.
April 2, 1965 – June 17, 2012
- Rodney King, who struggled with demons after beating, dead at 47 (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Rodney King found at bottom of his swimming pool by fiancee (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Rodney King, 47, found dead at home in Rialto (latimesblogs.latimes.com)