Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Today is the 20th Anniversary of the Rodney King Beating

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

These days we grab our cellphones and digital cameras out of our pockets, purses, or bags and take a quick video of babies, art, meals, friends, or quirky moments. We post it to our Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, or sites like YouTube where these personal videos have a welcome home. 20 years ago, though, making a quick video was a little more laborious and the equipment more unwieldy. Imagine testing out your new camera on a subject that would go down in history: LAPD officers beating a black, male motorist.

That's what happened to George Holliday, as remembered today in the LA Times, on the 20th anniversary of what we since came to know as the "Rodney King Beating":

The nine minutes of grainy video footage [Holliday] captured of Los Angeles police beating Rodney King helped to spur dramatic reforms in a department that many felt operated with impunity. The video played a central role in the criminal trial of four officers, whose not-guilty verdicts in 1992 triggered days of rioting in Los Angeles in which more than 50 people died.

Holliday sold his footage to KTLA for $500. The rest is, as we know, uneasy history.

Support for LAist comes from

The LAPD has come a long way since then, as has King himself. Today, many remember King as they knew him in 1991, and say that the consequences of that one moment affected them and their communities profoundly. In 2009, on the 17th anniversary of the 1992 LA Riots, King told LAist he remembered the beating of March 3, 1991, and how he had told himself he "had better live through it."