RIP Rodney King.

Via on Jun 17, 2012

 

Source: rickey.org via Rickey on Pinterest

Rodney King: April 2, 1965—June 17, 2012

I remember hearing about his beating when I was in high school. And then, once the video went public, and the police officers were acquitted—the riots. People talked about whether or not he was “on something” and that somehow justified what happened. I wonder how far reaching the rioting would have been had it happened today, in our every millisecond a new status update and viral video world.

Have things improved in the past 20 years where racial profiling is concerned? I don’t think we have. If anything, we’ve just added more races to the list. Now instead of just being suspicious of anyone who appears to be African-American or Hispanic, the poilce (and TSA) are often suspicious of anyone who looks even vaguely Middle Eastern.

But on the flip side, do we just feel sorry for Rodney King? Did he grow and lead change and benefit society in the wake of the riots?

Do we excuse bad behavior because someone was once wronged?

Via Reddit:

Get beat down once by police. Get out of Jail free card for life

King’s Trouble with the Law After March 3, 1991

May 11, 1991: King was pulled over for having an excessively tinted windshield. Although King was driving without a license and his car registration had expired, King was not charged.
May 28, 1991: King picked up a transvestite prostitute in Hollywood who happened to be under surveillance by LAPD officers. King and the prostitute were observed in an alley engaging in sexual activity. When the prostitute spotted the officers, King sped away, nearly hitting one of them. King later explained that he thought the vice officers were robbers trying to kill him. No charges were filed.
June 26, 1992: King’s second wife reported to police that King had hit her and she feared for her life. King was handcuffed and taken to a police station, but his wife then decided against pressing charges.
July 16, 1992: King was arrested at 1:40 A.M. for driving while intoxicated. No charges were filed.
August 21, 1993: King crashed into a wall near a downtown Los Angeles nightclub. He had a blood alcohol level of 0.19. King was charged with violating his parole and sent for sixty day to an alcohol treatment center. He was also convicted on the DUI charge and ordered to perform twenty days of community service.
May 21, 1995: King was arrested for DUI while on a trip to Pennsylvania. King failed field sobriety tests, but refused to submit to a blood test. He was tried and acquitted.
July 14, 1995: King got into an argument with his wife while he was driving, pulled off the freeway and ordered her out of the car. When she started to get out, King sped off, leaving her on the highway with a bruised arm. King was charged with assault with a deadly weapon (his car), reckless driving, spousal abuse, and hit-and-run. King was tried on all four charges, but found guilty only of hit-and-run driving.
March 3, 1999: King allegedly injured the sixteen-year-old girl that he had fathered out of wedlock when he was seventeen, as well as the girl’s mother. King was arrested for injuring the woman, the girl, and for vandalizing property. King claimed that the incident was simply “a family misunderstanding.”
September 29, 2001: King was arrested for indecent exposure and use of the hallucinogenic drug PCP.

 

I was sad to hear that Rodney King had died, still so young.

But mostly, I was sad because of why we know his name, why he will be remembered:

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About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. She doesn't know how to behave with all the apples and ibexes. She doesn't suffer from her eight million freckles, she loves them! Like a rolling stone, Kate gathers no moss. Kate loves kale, being barefoot, Dr. Seuss, singing too loudly, gallivanting, palindromes, blackberries and has far too many books for her own good. When she's not writing, you can find her practicing yoga, running in the woods, playing with her kids, devouring a book, planting dandelions, changing the world and doing her dishes. Kate does not play the accordion. She is a massage therapist, writer and a compassionate friend to all. This year Kate aspires to finally give up on learning to knit and will instead spend that time putting a little bit more of her heart on the page. Connect with Kate on Facebook and Twitter

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6 Responses to “RIP Rodney King.”

  1. yogasamurai says:

    It's a lot harder to detect and prove "racial profiling" than people realize. In part, because statistics so often back it up.

    In other words, if young Black males are committing 90% of a certain crime in a certain area, why would you be just as suspicious of whites or Latinos in those areas — and waste surveillance or patrolling resources on them? You shouldn't and any chief who does, out of some misplaced sense of being "politically correct," should probably be fired for incompetence.

    On the other hand, it becomes a more real issue, perhaps, if police in a 80% white neighborhood where it's demonstrated that the crime pattern reflects that demographic, are still focusing on the "young Black males" to appease the fears and prejudices of white homeowners and businesses – or just their own ingrained prejudices. However, it's just very hard to show that's actually happening. Police forces are strapped, and they really do want to get the bad guys, and show real reductions in crime, you know? Duh.

    People think the police are supposed to "solve" inequities in society – it's not their job. Hopefully, they use our tax resources as wisely and fairly as possible.

    It's interesting, even in the Obama administration's highly publicized lawsuit against Arizona's illegal immigration crackdown law, SB 1070, which many Latino activists say "racially profiles" Hispanics as a whole, the administration refused to advance that argument in support of its suit.

    The suit is entirely about whether states have a right to pass their own immigration laws that may or may not conflict with federal immigration law. In other words, whether the federal government is the supreme authority in all matter relating to immigration.

    Why not focus on the highly charged profiling issue? As I said, it's extremely hard to prove. Most courts simply don't buy it, and neither do most citizens when they actually look at how and why police policies are formed, and how they are implemented.

    So back to Rodney King, given what we now know, in retrospect, were the police completely off base? Was this really just some totally decent dude who happened to be Black who was subdued by police just because he was Black?

    • Absolutely right. I think it's one of those issues where there isn't one right answer or one way to improve things.

      I have a brother in law who is a police officer. He's in the suburbs now (post 9/11) but was in the Bronx for years. When the majority of the people committing crimes fit a certain type (whether it be race, dress, gender…or…you name it) it would be foolish of them to ignore a potential crime going on for fear of "profiling."

      But then, on the flip side, what about the fact that statistically black men receive longer sentences for the same crimes as white men…clearly, the justice system has some answering to do there too.

      I don't think blanket policies either way, for the police force or the court system, solve anything. I think it will improve (or not) as individual attitudes towards racial equality improve.

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