June 17, 2012

"Rodney King — the man who was at the center of the infamous Los Angeles riots — was found dead this morning"... at the bottom of a pool.

"He was 47."



"I just want to say, you know, can we, can we all get along? Can we, can we get along? Um, can we stop making it, making it all before, for the older people and the, and the kids..."

75 comments:

MisterBuddwing said...

I've come to feel that one of the worst things that can happen to one is to be turned into a living symbol of something, like Rodney King was. I also feel that way about Kim Phuc, the "napalm girl" of the Vietnam War.

Ross said...

This is sad, true. But why is it news? Is it because he was some sort of symbol?

Mr. D said...

Sad news. 47 is way too young to die.

LarsPorsena said...

He was an affable addict. His story arc could have no other ending.

edutcher said...

Foul play or not?

King, IIRC his rap sheet, didn't need the LAPD to be involved in violence.

Maguro said...

Kim Phuc has done alright for herself, Buddwing. She doesn't need your condescending sympathy.

tiger said...

Well, really what is there to say? We all die - the famous, infamous and rest - sooner or later.
Ol'd Rodney just went sooner than expected.

DRTA but does it look like an accident?
And this isn't listed at Fark, yet, either.

ricpic said...

Frankly, my memory of the incident is vague, but didn't King utter his "Can't we all get along?" plea after he was caught rioting?

MisterBuddwing said...

Kim Phuc has done alright for herself, Buddwing. She doesn't need your condescending sympathy.

Unlike you, at least I sympathize.

Sorry to get your knickers in a twist. I was thinking about how Kim Phuc was exploited by the Communists and antiwar activists, and how she admitted in a recent interview that she once wished she had died in that napalm attack.

Or are you offended that I mentioned her in the same post as Rodney King?

And now that you've given me this opportunity to respond, let me bring up another victimized living symbol: Oliver Sipple, the Marine veteran who helped save the life of President Ford in San Francisco in 1975 by grabbing at the arm of Sara Jane Moore. When it turned out he was gay, the gay rights activists couldn't wait to yank him out of the closet. Because of all the attention, Sipple died a broken man at the age of 47.

Cedarford said...

Guess like with Anna Nicole Smith, Whitney Houston "suddenly found dead" - everyone sort of wants to wait to see what the toxicology report says before saying how "tragic" the demise was.

Ann Althouse said...

He has one of the most famous quotes in American history, but it is usually misquoted. My transcription in the post is accurate.

He said "I just want to say, you know, can we, can we all get along? Can we, can we get along?"

Not: "Can we all just get along?"

There's a different shade of meaning.

Roman said...

Death is certain for all of us, early death is too bad, except for the truly evil. Rodney King, with his life sytle, lived longer than I thought he would. May he Rest in Peace.

SteveR said...

All things considered, those events only empowered the race baiters. It might have been a moment where something changed, but people weren't up for it.

Probably helped OJ get acquited.

Crimso said...

"There's a different shade of meaning."

Let me go out on a limb and suggest that's your theme for the day's posts.

Rusty said...

I'm amazed he lived so long.

Maguro said...

Or are you offended that I mentioned her in the same post as Rodney King?

I did find it offensive, yes. In my eyes, Kim Phuc is someone worthy of respect and admiration, not morose, self-serving displays of public sympathy.

MadisonMan said...

I won't be able to make it today because I'm a the bottom of the pool.

MisterBuddwing said...

"Or are you offended that I mentioned her in the same post as Rodney King?"

I did find it offensive, yes. In my eyes, Kim Phuc is someone worthy of respect and admiration, not morose, self-serving displays of public sympathy.

OK. A direct comparison of the two was not my point. My point, such as it was, had to do with how people caught up in a traumatic or tragic event can end up being triply exploited: By the event itself, by the news media, and by self-interested advocates seeking to exploit the "golden opportunity."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

So how soon before Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson swoop in to blame white people and see if they can't gin up another race riot?

Never let an opportunity go to waste. Right?

T-Steel said...

Wow. This thread has Kim Phuc in it from Rodney King. Not going there.

Here's how I look at Rodney King: an unlikely symbol that didn't ask to be a symbol in the first place. The man has problems and just said what came to his mind at that time. "Can we all get along" says alot without alot of words. Can we? And from that he's propelled into symbolism but never really got over his issues.

Plain and simple.

Marshal said...

Not sure I understand the negativity to King. We all make mistakes, and his were bigger than most. But when he was shown tape of people killing in his name he denounced it rather than accepting the position of figurehead. He could have become the next Al Sharpton, and instead he made enemies of the people who saw him as an ally. I give the man credit for standing up for decency in truly terrible circumstances.

MisterBuddwing said...

Here's how I look at Rodney King: an unlikely symbol that didn't ask to be a symbol in the first place.

Most (not all) living symbols don't volunteer for the job.

...when he was shown tape of people killing in his name he denounced it rather than accepting the position of figurehead.

ITA.

The Crack Emcee said...

Damn. Poor guy. What a life. What a nightmare.

Just awful.

Rodney King was a man caught in a herd mentality, got it beat out of him, only to find himself lost. Who can blame him when so few (like religious types) deny we can ever be mentally free? I feel for him - and for us - trapped in this Nazi-NewAge culture:

We are a people attempting to be immune to personal tragedy.

Don't think about the people exploited in cults, of whatever stripe - think about the cult's success, and how "nice" the cultists seem, or what we (politically) want in the short term - anything but the individuals who have the right to a life free of such ideas and the enormous waste that goes hand-in-hand with it. Too many are too happy, making jokes, dissolving our humanity in humor when we ought to be paying attention.

Rodney King didin't deserve this - nobody does.

This was not a "bad man," but someone who never got a chance to be a man at all.

A little piece of us all was found at the bottom of that pool,...

madAsHell said...

He died in his swimming pool?
His wife found him?

Wow!?! I guess he turned his life around.

Back in 1991, the police beat him while he was stoned on PCB. I would have expected his trajectory to land him on a cardboard mat under the freeway.

Good for you, Mr. King. Rest in peace.

EDH said...

King had his problems, but seemed like a personable, reflective guy when sober.

Ann Althouse said...
He has one of the most famous quotes in American history, but it is usually misquoted. My transcription in the post is accurate.

Doesn't King say...

"Um, can we stop making it, makin' it horrible for the older people and the, and the kids..."

Methadras said...

I was actually pulling through for him to turn his life around. Bummer.

Methadras said...

Cedarford said...

Guess like with Anna Nicole Smith, Whitney Houston "suddenly found dead" - everyone sort of wants to wait to see what the toxicology report says before saying how "tragic" the demise was.


He was an alcoholic in my understanding and a very bad one at that. He beat it for a time, but he kept going back. I think it finally got him and his liver.

Darrell said...

Actually, this was another case where the media edited the tape to
stoke up sentiment against the police. Few people have the same reaction to the full tape where the police are shown holding their batons when he complies and stops fighting. And the black passengers are shown being held by police and not subject to any mistreatment. Not a single blow involved deadly force--they were all from the tip of the batons, not further down in the lethal zone. The tape, I've heard, is sometimes used for training purposes by the police and the military.

Wally Kalbacken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

And is everyone aware of the $3.8 million settlement? It doesn't seem so from the comments. I could turn my life around with that. Maybe.

Wally Kalbacken said...

I think King was found at the bottom of a pool, not necessarily his pool.

madAsHell said...

$3.8 million settlement

I figured there was some kind of settlement. I was just too lazy to look it up.

You also have to realize that most lottery ticket winners end up in bankruptcy.

Phil 3:14 said...

Frankly, my memory of the incident is vague, but didn't King utter his "Can't we all get along?" plea after he was caught rioting?

Uhh, no. Rodney King was not involved in the riots; they came a year later after the police officers were acquitted.

Sadly, Mr. King had a life long problem with addictions. I'm surprised he lived this long.

William said...

He was a sympathetic human being. He probably got beat more than was deserved, but can you point to any society where combative drunks don't end up getting beat down by the cops?....I think the autopsy will show that he was done in by his addictions and not by the police. Why are cops supposed to be more perfectable than Rodney King?....Alcoholics speak of hitting bottom, of reaching some low point that makes them realize that they must turn their life around. Rodney's bottom was actually a catapult to wealth and fame. He never become grounded and never overcame his addictions. His supporters did far more damage to him than the cops.

traditionalguy said...

If the media had had to pay King for the times it re-ran the videotape of his performance as a human whipping post, the guy would have earned 3.8 billion instead of 3.8 million.

But the tazer manufacturers thank him for their 3.8 billion.

Comanche Voter said...

The City of Los Angeles gave him enough money to drink himself to death--and he died trying.

ampersand said...

If you had him in your dead pool, should it pay double?

The Crack Emcee said...

Darrell,

And is everyone aware of the $3.8 million settlement? It doesn't seem so from the comments. I could turn my life around with that. Maybe.

Please. The first thing you need, more than money, is a clue how. King, to me, is emblematic of a lot of people I meet - looking at a corrupt culture, filled with so many conflicting messages, you could give them all the money in the world and they'd still wander the planet, lost. Do you stay "down" with black people - who disgusted you after acting like animals on your behalf - or do you "side" with those who, by extension, beat you almost to death? That's what our society sets up for us - you MUST follow Jesus (or some other religion), and you MUST defend gays and women, and you MUST save the planet, or take care of your health - or anything but just learn to BE.

And that you'll get attacked for, too.

Being strong, in a world of weak minds, is a tough row to hoe - money or not.

I think it had to be brutal to be Rodney King,...

dbp said...

He was weak in his personal life, but when it mattered he did the right thing. RIP

David said...

God bless him. Earthly life did not work well for him. I hope there is an eternal paradise and that Rodney gets to go there.

David said...

Crack: "This was not a "bad man," but someone who never got a chance to be a man at all."

Well put, though I would quibble slightly. Everyone has a "chance" to be a man. But for some, like Mr. King, the struggle is so difficult that they can't overcome the forces lined up against them. Rodney KIng seemed to me a goodhearted fellow trying to find the traction to climb a steep slippery wall. A few make it. Most do not.

Darrell said...

So much wrong with that, Crack, that I almost didn't respond. "Beat to death" is the first thing that caught my eye. Not true. The second was that you failed to mention the black police officers trying to subdue him. So must he then side with people other than black or white? How about Asians? Of course it's silly. So was the "dilemma" you posed. In his own words--"I should have pulled over for the police," he says. "I was going too fast. I was on parole [for second-degree robbery of a grocery store], and I had been drinking some, too." King says he was worried about losing a construction job he'd just gotten."
He failed to mention the high-speed chase. Or fighting with cops when they finally did stop him, but his words were a start. Looking at how his fellow passengers were treated by police because they were complying with their orders would have given him further clues. Would he have gotten the same treatment? Or don't you think that he should have followed lawful commands?

I don't see his problem being "strength." Unless a "strong mind" means a failure to think things through in your dictionary. Having a disease--alcoholism--does get him some of my sympathy, though. But certainly not a pass.

A side note-- he blew most of his settlement in a failed effort to establish a hip-hop record label (Alta-Pazz) using people that had no music business experience. Too bad he couldn't have talked with you first.

rhhardin said...

I haven't heard of him for years, then he turned up on a book tour

Armstrong and Getty May 2.

bagoh20 said...

A man goes out for a few drinks and some partying. He gets pretty wasted, drives his car, refuses to stop for the cops, speeds dangerously through residential neighborhoods, and resists arrest. The cops do very poor job of gaining control, but eventually do, while a man video tapes it. The media plays a one-sided edit of the it ad nauseum for months n end, and the "community" pushes the prosecution to overcharge, resulting in acquittal. The city explodes and the authorities refuse to stop it. Dozens die (mostly innocents), a city burns, and a depressed town further destroys it's own future.

If enough people cooperate in it, you can really build yourself a world class disaster. It continues to smolder. At many points a few or even a single person could have stopped it all. A big shout out to all who helped make it happen.

bagoh20 said...

53 dead, 2000 injured, 3,600 fires were set, destroying 1,100 buildings.

I find it hard to feel much for the guy who caused it all, while ignoring all the true victims of his excess and his refusal to say "no" to himself.

King's death is the smallest of the tragedies he started, and the only one where the right guy suffered the consequences.

bagoh20 said...

I'm no angel, but I know that hundreds of times in my life I have looked at what I wanted to do and said: "No. If I do that, A can lead to B, and then to C, and people will get hurt, or I will pay far more than what this is worth." It's a simple calculation, and nobody gets it right every time, and often we just get lucky when we don't, but King failed to make that choice right many many times at great cost.

$1 billion in damage to the poorest parts of Los Angeles. They have still not recovered after 20 years. Weakness, yes, but why does that make it excusable?

David said...

Rodney King did not start the riots. He was breaking the law and should have been arrested, but his beating was brutal and unnecessary. Then the exploiters of the situation from both sides of the racial and political divide took over, and after endless dishonesty and bullshit, the acquittal of Rodney's assailants started a devastating riot. Making poor misguided Rodney King responsible for this event is really unfair.

bagoh20 said...

"Making poor misguided Rodney King responsible for this event is really unfair."

As it would be to blame the poor misguided cops, media, prosecutors, race baiters, looters, arsonists, and thugs, all just doing a little bitty evil.

See, nobody really did it. Everyone is just misguided. But he's the one in the news today.

He could have killed someone that night all by himself driving like an idiot. A poor misguided soul.

Fen said...

Yay, another Thug bites the dust.

Fen said...

but his beating was brutal and unnecessary.

You are an authority on Police methods to restrain violent felons who refuse to comply with orders to stop resisting arrest?

I bet you second-guess Favre from your comfy armchair too.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

...but his beating was brutal and unnecessary

Beating? The cops followed their training to the letter, inflicting pain with the tip of the batons until the suspect stopped trying to resist arrest. How did King know they would stop? Because every time he did stop fighting, the cops stopped hitting him. They started up again when he pulled his arms free and started fighting. All the while they were shouting at him to stop resisting arrest, to allow them to cuff him.
There are plenty of cops seen around the other passengers, yet they are not struck with batons or
touched at all. Why? Because they complied with the lawful orders of police. Treatment based on what you do, not the color of your skin. Doesn't sound racist to me. Doesn't sound sadistic to me.

The full tape shows it all clearly. The edited versions run, with the stopping parts and King's fighting omitted, certainly did stoke the fires that came later.

Darleen said...

Rodney King was never long out of trouble in all the years since the riot. Small stuff, but a constant drip drip drip of finding himself, yet again, in a court room.

(rarely made the news because, hey, Rialto is an armpit and 60 miles east of El Lay)

He had a chance to turn his life around and squandered it.

Pity.

Revenant said...

I find it hard to feel much for the guy who caused it all, while ignoring all the true victims of his excess and his refusal to say "no" to himself.

How the heck did King "cause" the riots? He's guilty of DUI and of getting his ass kicked by the police, but that's about the end of it.

Revenant said...

The cops followed their training to the letter

I'm curious what the basis for that claim is. I ask because the police department's own internal review of the incident described the officers' behavior as "clearly excessive and unlawful".

Secondly, are you honestly saying that *kicking* someone who is down on the ground is part of police training? If so, can you provide some more detail on that?

Finally -- if the police behaved in a completely appropriate manner, why did they lie about the incident in their official police reports? Why break the law and risk losing your job if you have nothing to hide?

leslyn said...

@Darrell:

I have seen the full video many times, and your description is wrong.

They did not use the "tips" of their batons. And they did not start hitting King again when he be fan resisting.

King was stopped for FYI after a high speed chase. The video shows King on the ground surrounded by four LAPD officers, Laurence Powell, Ted Briseno, Timothy Wind, and Stay Koon.

King was being beaten by batons of Powell, Briseno and Wind. He was subdued flat. He lay there. The officers stood. He moved. The officers moved in to beat him again. This happened several times.

Summary: Timothy Wind, the rookie, delivered only a few blows. (Laurence Powell was Wind's trying officer and it is no surprise that Wind followed Powell's example to some extent.) Briseno hit King more times than Wind, but then stopped and tried to stop Powell by grabbing Powell's arm. Powell threw Briseno off and stepped in to hit King some more while King was prone, delivering by far the greatest number of blows. Sgt Koon stood by. There were at least seven other officers at the scene who did not approach and participate.

Until Powell stopped, no one attempted to handcuff King. King was first on his knees but soon prone. The incident was a beating in which three of 11 officers participated. The rookie stopped, and even Briseno tried to stop Powell. Koon watched. The other officers stayed back.

To characterize King's movements on the ground as "resisting" is both laughable and sad. They were feeble. Have you ever been beaten? Or have you been in serious pain? Do you know how difficult it is to be absolutely still while in pain and being hit? Stillness occurs when one becomes unconscious or dead.

Officers at an arrest where there's trouble all try to help. The other seven didn't. They wouldn't. Briseno tried to help. He tried to help Laurence Powell stop.

The incident is illustrative when teaching Use of Force and Arrest Techniques to police. There were sufficient officers present when King was down to handcuff him. The force was excessive.

@ricpic: No, King didn't participate in the rioting. He deplored it.

leslyn said...

bagoh20: "At many points a few or even a single person could have stopped it all."

Tragically true. If Briseno da succeeded in stopping Laurence Powell, if the other officers had stepped in to help stop Powell, if Sgt Koon had controlled the scene--it would have been a non-incident and none of the aftermath would have happened.

And neither Powell nor Koon would have ended up in jail--Powell for excessive use of force, and Koon for failing to stop Powell.

m stone said...

I came in late on this one, but in looking through the posts, I still don't find of what, exactly, is Rodney King a symbol.

leslyn said...

Sorry about the bad autospell. I proofread the wrong words.

"they did not start hitting King again when he BEGAN "resisting."

King was stopped for DUI.

"Laurence Powell was Wind's TRAINING officer"

Graham Powell said...

What Marshal said. Yeah, King was kind of a fuckup, but he seemed horrified that people would riot in his name, and tried to stop it.

Darrell said...

They analyzed every single blow at the trial of the police officers.

But of course, some people see a lot of things differently, like Prosser choking Bradley with intent to kill. Their POV isn't worth much.

Michael K said...

"Tragically true. If Briseno da succeeded in stopping Laurence Powell, if the other officers had stepped in to help stop Powell, if Sgt Koon had controlled the scene--it would have been a non-incident and none of the aftermath would have happened."

When Rodney died, Koon wasn't there to save his life again. Your version is the usual one sided BS. In fact, King was stopped by CHP officers Melanie Singer and her husband who was on patrol with her. Singer ordered King to get down and he refused. Getting up and shaking his ass at her. She was ready to shoot him, with her gun out, when the LAPD arrived and Koon ordered the officers (he was a sergeant) to take King down with non-lethal methods.

The LAPD had been sued by the family of a guy who died during a choke hold so they were banned. The only non-lethal method was batons. The video condemned the officers by people who had no experience with force.

During the subsequent trials (double jeopardy courtesy of the feds) Melanie Singer testified against the LAPD cops and then, after they were convicted, she retired on stress disability; another example for America's youth, especially female.

I sent money to Koon's family while he was in prison.

King was an ex-con who had spent his prison sentence body building, as is common with lifetime offenders. He was probably on PCP, which is undetectable. Until you have seen someone high on PCP, you would not believe what they are like. They have superhuman strength and reduced pain sensation.

The Trayvon Martin case is similar except poor Zimmerman did not have the luck to have the cops arrive before he shot the kid in self defense.

Revenant said...

The LAPD had been sued by the family of a guy who died during a choke hold so they were banned. The only non-lethal method was batons. The video condemned the officers by people who had no experience with force.

The officers were condemned by other police. The LAPD fired them for criminal use of force and lying on police reports.

leslyn said...

Your version is the usual one sided BS. In fact, King was stopped by CHP officers Melanie Singer and her husband who was on patrol with her. Singer ordered King to get down and he refused. Getting up and shaking his ass at her. She was ready to shoot him, with her gun out, when the LAPD arrived and Koon ordered the officers (he was a sergeant) to take King down with non-lethal methods.

Yes, Singer made the stop and her husband was there. How is that relevant to the beating? Because Koon came on the scene and said the LAPD would take over? (which IS what he said) Are you saying Koon saved King's life because they didn't SHOOT him? Was DUI supposed to result in summary execution? Or is it the ass-wiggling that's got you so angry?

The PCP rumor started with the police reports. See any self-justification there?

"By their actions you shall know them." Even the rookie stopped hitting King. Briseno tried--twice--to stop Powell. The other seven cops stayed away. Koon did nothing to direct the arrest.

It wasn't a takedown. It was a beatdown.

Michael K said...

" How is that relevant to the beating? Because Koon came on the scene and said the LAPD would take over? "

Yes and he stopped Singer from shooting him.

"Was DUI supposed to result in summary execution? "

No, that's why he stopped her.

"Or is it the ass-wiggling that's got you so angry?"

No, it didn't make me angry. It made her angry and she was going to shoot him for it. Instead, she railroaded some cops that were doing their job and she retired on disability.

What got you so angry ? Feminism ?

Michael K said...

"The LAPD fired them for criminal use of force and lying on police reports."

Do you still beat your wife ?

leslyn said...

"What got you so angry ? Feminism ?" That retort is just sad. Lol.

So is your defense. I have no doubt that Powell wished, in jail, that when Briseno tried to stop him, that Briseno had been successful. That's sad too. The cops who stood by were negligent. But it is so very hard for one cop to intervene against another. They're a family. More important, they have to have your back. It's hard to understand that intervening can save not only your partner, but yourself too.

And that's the sadness for Stacy Koon. He didn't intervene. He was convicted for being a bystander. The Supreme Court turned down his appeal. They acted on well-established law on bystander liability.

Almost no police officers realize this principle. But it's important--so important. The best description I've heard of this decision point was said by another cop: "When you see something really bad happening." Timothy Wind saw it. Briseno, with more experience, saw it too and tried to stop it.

"When you see something really bad happening," don't take intervening as acting AGAINST another police officer. Recognize that when you intervene you are saving them. Every cop has the right to do this. Saving people is in our DNA.

And when you save another police officer, you save yourself too.

Michael K said...

""What got you so angry ? Feminism ?" That retort is just sad. Lol."

"That was the flat statement of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta regarding a 28 Dec 11 report that showed that the incidence of sex crimes at the service academies had increased by more than 50 percent in one year."

Yup. That was it. Rodney King's beating was just another sex crime by men.

I don't have anything more to say. The Florida case of George Zimmerman is another lynching of someone trying to enforce the law. The Orange County incident in which a bunch of cops beat a mentally ill man to death IS an example of out of control police AFAIK but the Rodney King case wasn't.

jvermeer51 said...

King had never been searched so it was unknown if he had a weapon. If he had a weapon and drew it during a struggle or had wrestled one of the cop's guns away during a struggle, then the police would have had to shoot him. That was the point of the beating without engaging in a wrestling match. So, yes, the police took action to reduce the chance he would have been killed.

rhhardin said...

Can't we all learn to swim.

- Making the rounds

Michael Haz said...

Wasn't the actual quote "I just want to say, you know, can we, can we all get a bong? Can we, can we get a bong?"

Revenant said...

That was the point of the beating without engaging in a wrestling match.

You realize you just described felony assault, right?

leslyn said...

Jvermeer51,

Not talking about a wrestling match. Wasn't necessary.

When the decision to arrest is made you move in quickly to get handcuffs on. Leaving a person unconstrained on the ground for minutes at a time leaves them free to get their own weapon.

The most telling evidence in this case is Wind's limited engagement, Briseno's two attempts to stop Powell, and the total noninvolvement of the other 7 police officers at the scene.

leslyn said...

Note to Fen:

Favre is still retired. The world has moved on.

Junkyard Ballerina said...

Ah yes, Rodney King.
I'll always remember him as the guy who sold crack in a parking lot in my small town at least twice, and beat up a woman here...oh yes, and there was that time he *wasn't* arrested for driving stoned out of his "mind" here. Those were the days. Can't say I'm gonna miss 'im much.