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Looking Back At The Police Assault Of Rodney King, And What It Means Today

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This 1991 amateur video captured the beating of Rodney King
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On this day, 30 years ago, Rodney King was beaten by four L.A. police officers so severely that he was reportedly unrecognizable. A video of the assault, taken by George Holliday, a bystander, was released to the public a few days later, causing widespread outrage.

That video — and the acquittal of the officers in April of the following year — would lead to five historic days of unrest that left an indelible mark on Los Angeles.

On our newsroom’s public affairs show Air Talk, which airs on 89.3 KPCC, USC law professor Jody Armour and UCLA history professor Brenda Stevenson looked back on the beating of King on March 3, 1991 and the ensuing outcry, and what it means today.

“There's something really powerful about witnessing, bearing witness, visually seeing these images,” said Armour. “It woke up the conscience of many Americans and moved people to the streets and resulted in real change here in L.A.”

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