Videos: Rodney King Asks L.A. "Can We All Get Along?" And More
As Los Angeles—and the country as a whole—reflects on the death of Rodney King, it's notable that King ultimately managed to forgive the extreme police brutality that nearly killed him in 1991. He released a memoir, The Riot Within, earlier this year, and the description says:
While Rodney King is now an icon, he is by no means an angel. King has had run-ins with the law and continues a lifelong struggle with alcohol addiction. But King refuses to be bitter about the crippling emotional and physical damage that was inflicted upon him that night in 1991. While this nation has made strides during those twenty years to heal, so has Rodney King, and his inspiring story can teach us all lessons about forgiveness, redemption, and renewal, both as individuals and as a nation.
King's battle with alcoholism may have contributed to his death, but he reflected earlier this year, "Yes, I would go through that night, yes I would. I said once that I wouldn't, but that's not true. It changed things. It made the world a better place."Here's the video of the March 3, 1991 beating that shocked the nation:
After the 1992 verdict acquitting four of the police officers involved in the beating, riots broke out in L.A. On the third days, with dozens killed, King pleaded, "People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along?"
It turned out that King's mother didn't want him to say anything, because she was afraid he would be killed.
In recent years, with the 20th anniversary of his beating and the 20th anniversary of his riots, King spoke more about the incident. In this 2011 CNN interview (here's the full documentary), he described having nightmares and went back to the scene:
With Dr. Drew Pinsky earlier this year, King described that when he was taken into the ambulance, they put a sheet over his head. He thought, "I was dying right in front of my eyes and I kept blowing it off and the guy said stop spitting on me, stop blowing blood on me and threw the sheet on my head and I really thought I was about to die."
In an interview with the Rev. Al Sharpton in April, King said, "You know. I would prefer to be remembered as a part - as a person who was part of a resolution. You know, not a part of the problem. Because, you now, we have a younger generation that`s growing every year, you know. There are a new adult people coming into this country, and kids being born in this country. And we have to leave a legacy for them, something for them so it will be easier for them to deal with problems and issues that come up, you know, just like civil rights leaders, you know, white, black colors."
And in an interview aired CSPAN's Book TV (not embeddable) where the interview noted that his memoir was helpful in reminding the public that he's more than just a symbol, King said, "I'm a down-to-earth guy. I love life."