All week we’ve been talking about the Rodney King riot of 1992, America’s worst civil disturbance in the 20th Century. April 29 marks exactly 20 years since LAPD officers were acquitted of charges of using excessive force. All five special episodes are linked below.
The Rodney King beating was videotaped by a bystander and broadcast on newscasts worldwide. Two weeks later, a 15-year-old black girl, Latasha Harlins, was shot to death by a Korean-American liquor-store owner, Soon Ja Du. That incident was also videotaped by a surveillance camera and was repeatedly broadcast. Soon Ja Du was convicted of second degree murder and granted probation.
After the Rodney King beating, Mayor Tom Bradley appointed a commission headed by former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, which recommended reforms of the LAPD. Then came the verdicts and the rioting. It became clear that the LAPD was completely unprepared for the violence and had no plan. Governor Pete Wilson called in the National Guard, which patrolled the streets for 17 days.
After the riot, it was Rodney King who asked the most important question, “can’t we all just get along?” Since then, two of the LAPD officers — Lawrence Powell and Stacey Koon — were convicted of federal civil rights crimes. King received $3.8 million in a settlement with the City of LA. Below you will find all of this week’s special programming.