Remembering Rodney King: ‘Accidental agent of change’

Rodney King is greeted by Firpo Carr as he arrives at EsoWon bookstore to sign copies of his new book, 'The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion to Redemption,' on April 30, 2012 (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Rodney King died Sunday morning at age 47. His fiancée found him at the bottom of his swimming pool and he was pronounced dead at the hospital. In 1991 King was brutally beaten by cops who had pulled him over. The beating was caught on video tape and brought King and the police into the public eye. When the officers were acquitted, Los Angeles erupted in what has become known as the “Rodney King riots.” Rev. Al Sharpton called King “a symbol of civil rights,” saying “he represented the anti-police brutality and anti-racial profiling movement of our time.”

Los Angeles civil rights attorney, Connie Rice told Warren that she saw King just three weeks ago. “He was so proud of his book. For the first time, he looked happy, he looked confident.” Listen to her memories and those of Fernando Guerra, Director of the Center of the Study of Los Angeles, below:

Below, Raphe Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State L.A. and the author of “Politics in Black and White: Race and Power in Los Angeles,” talks about Rodney King’s role in history and his tragic story.


Warren Olney spoke with King earlier this year on the 20th anniversary of the riots about his memoir, “The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption.” He told Warren, “I remember the whole incident.”



  1. mesa garage doors
    Apr 03, 2013, 4:53 am

    This is an interesting and so well maintained blog. Whole article is too good and well written.

  2. Michael Kinzig
    Sep 24, 2012, 11:58 am

    Geez. another put-upon Mexo victim incapable of fixing his own culture but able to condemn ours...I f Mexicans really cared about corruption they would fix Mexico,,....fat chance. Why sweat about the teachers?? Mexicans drop out anyway.

  • Roque Burio jr.

    From Roque Burio Jr the lemon who can dance but can also sing. Miramonte scandal has been used and still being used by LAUSD to cover up the LAUSD Superintendent who sexually attacked and raped a fellow man and subordinate.
    Hah, hah, hah, hah. LAUSD likes to put in jail all suspected teachers and set free the sex maniacal superintendent. What a double standard of justice of this hypocrite school district. Dismantle this illegal, unconstitutional, immoral, and tyrant paper monster.
    Long live the US flag and the republic, long live liberty and justice for all. Long live privatization of LAUSD and the free enterprise. And down with this tyrant paper monster.

  • Roque burio Jr.

    rio Jr. the lemon who can dance but can also sing. Here is my song for coming election: A couple months ago the axis party of LAUSD sent me and to all of its party members a petition to increase the taxes to fund its extravagant friend LAUSD. I never signed nor returned the said petition to the said party, nor did anyone of the fellow members. It was a severe disaster and defeat for the said party to seek the help of the members to increase taxes through petition for this financially and academically failing paper monster school district.
    As a result the paper monster is now being force to withdraw its request to increase taxes in November election. Hah, hah, hah, the dismayingly failing school district is finally convinced that voters cannot be fooled in its secret joint project with its puppet partner the UTLA to scapegoat and falsely accuse many old and veteran and highly paid but innocent teachers for its failures resulting g from its anomalous and wasteful expenses and projects.
    As of now the decision of voters is pretty obvious that they will definitely reject any funding for the pockets of the extravag down with the sexually maniacal, immoral. and tyrant paper monster. Hah, hah, and more hah, hah.

  • Roque Burio, Jr.

    An Open Letter for Mr. Deasy and Mr. Holmquist.
    From Roque Burio, Jr, the lemon who can dance but can also sing. Here is the counter challenge song for you Holmquist who has challenged me about two or three years ago that you want to see me in Court with all of your lawyers to settle once and for all that your mother company LAUSD has been right in accusing and charging me of about one hundred misconducts. Mr. Holmquist and Mr. Deasy do not hesitate to send all of those allegations of Mrs. Ekchian to the Commission and let us see if you could really prove that LAUSD and Mrs. Ekchian had been right.
    I called the Commission on Teacher 1Credentialing a few days ago and I was told that neither of you had ever sent anything else except the notice of my separation from your dismayingly failing school district and with my name and the settlement agreement that I signed that I would not sue the LAUSD and its employees, particularly those administrators and those newly migrated teachers for falsely accusing me – in– that settlement agreement in exchange for money that I badly needed at that time. At our initial encounter, I think I won already at that stage. There might really be misconducts and probably you could win this time considering that the lawyer whom I was about to hire ran away like a rat, as your lawyers said. He confessed to me that the LAUSD wanted me to be left alone on my own defense but you offered me settlement instead; hence, this time no settlement anymore and I will be alone. Okay?
    Come on Holmquist; are you so scared to find the truth that you are part of the conspiracy that falsely accused me and other old and veteran and innocent teachers? Are you scared that my case may go to the Supreme Court? And the Court will find that you as an officer of the Court being a lawyer may have been obstructing justice and even unethically conniving with those evil and maniacal minds to commit injustice against me and other teachers? You know very well that you have no evidence against me and yet you let Mrs. Ekchian to file those cases.
    As officer of the Court you must have protected us and the rule of law. I think your only option now is to resign and retire Holmquist—that will be very acceptable to me.
    Again, I emphatically reiterate to you Holmquist to expedite the hearing of those misconducts as alleged by Ekchian and others against me. Come on, prove those Ekchian allegations against me, and come on prove them, prove them, once and for all Holmquist. And if you cannot, then, let justice prevail.
    The voters will never give funding to LAUSD if you cannot prove those several hundreds of allegations of misconducts against me and other teachers. November election is fast approaching Mr. Deasy and Holmquist. It seems to me that the voters no longer believe in the LAUSD anymore. It seems to me that you will lose in the November election. Long live liberty and justice for all. Long live city schools and private schools, and down with the tyrant paper monster.
    Do not worry Mr. Deasy and Holmquist, if I win in the Commission as before—remember a long time ago? You can still appeal to the Superior Court on many of the legal issues that I might raise against your district. Now you must be becoming really interested to meet with me even in a quasi judicial body—I mean your proposed Educational Reform Law has no teeth without case laws. Mr. Warren Fletcher of UTLA the puppet partner was defeated in the students’ test scores in correlation with teachers’ performances.
    See you in the Commission with your complaints of misconducts. Please give me a day or two in that Commission, just to show you that your complaints are false and fabricated false statements of facts. Are you doing your homework Holmquist to convince me and the Commission that I might have committed misconducts? He, he, he, and more he, he, he. Smile Mr. Deasy and Holmquist. See you soon.

  • Roque Burio Jr.

    From Roque Burio Jr. the lemons who can dance and can also sing. Here is my song on the impending and inevitable reformation or revolution. Bring to justice and incarcerate corrupt officials of LAUSD and UTLA. Recall is not sufficient justice. Freeze and confiscate of their looted assets will satisfy the peoples, citizens, and taxpayers. Put them in jail because their corruptions weakens and destroys our government and public education. Long live the peoples, workers, students, parents, and teachers. Long live the US flag and the Republic and down with the evils of corrupt government officials and their cronies. He, he, he, he, and more he, he, he. Long live and congratulations to you members of the Recall Movement.

  • Roque Burio Jr.

    •From Roque Burio Jr., the lemon who can dance and can also sing. Here is the my song on the alarming cries of wolf of the paper monster LAUSD– that more than nine thousands teachers misconducts have happened within the course of four years without the school administrators and district managers doing anything to prevent such horrible teachers misconducts against minor and innocent children ranging from verbal, physical, and horrible sexual misconducts better known as crimes or felonies against children.

  • Roque Burio Jr

    There is indeed but the undeniable lack of supervisions and actions on the part of the school administrations and district management of this grossly negligent paper monster LAUSD. Such an alarming and exorbitant number of incidents of child abuses in the LAUSD schools warrant only but a very serious concern among parents, taxpayers, and all peoples of this state of California. Such unimaginable occurrence of child abuses must be accountable only to the entire LAUSD management and its staff. There is no acceptable excuse whatsoever, and no other probable remedy for this gross negligence and horrible offences against innocent children; but, to provide a very serious consideration of dismantling this tyrant yet negligent and wasteful educational institution of LAUSD. Let it be decided therefore by the concerned citizens, tax payers, peoples, parents and politicians to give other educational institutions like the city schools and private schools the privilege to assume the responsibilities where the tyrant and negligent paper monster has consistently failed.
    • Long live the city schools, long the live private schools, and down with the paper monster LAUSD. Dismantle the tyrant and children abusive paper monster LAUSD.

  • Roque Burio Jr

    From Roque Burio Jr, the lemon who can dance and can also sing. Here is my song; The LAUSD must be dismantled to city schools, smaller school districts, and private schools. It is always negligent if not committing unfairness, injustice to teachers and students. Its false accusations substantiated with fabricated false statements of facts against teachers have now boomerang to its face. Nine thousands incidences of child abuse misconducts ranging from verbal harassment, physical violence and brutality, and horrible sex perversions of innocent school children. There is no remedy but to dismantle this shameful and tyrant paper monster.

  • Roque Burio, Jr.

    From Roque Burio Jr., the lemon who can dance but can also sing. Here is my song entitled the tom tom war song for Tom Wildman the new spokes person of financially and academically failing LAUSD: Shut up and pack up and stop your tom tom war drum. Cease and desist from brandishing your tongue lashing weapon against us teachers, like that you have gathered more than 8,300 teachers misconducts. People want to see blood if those teachers are really guilty and they be exonerated if innocent. Revoke their license if they are guilty and reinstate them if they are innocent. Do it before the November election.
    The US Peoples and taxpayers want worthy actions and not your weird mouthy publications.
    Shut up and pack up and leave that noble privilege to educate our students to our city schools, smaller unified school districts, and private schools.
    US peoples and taxpayers cannot be fooled anymore with your tyrant trial by publicity to damage, destroy, dismiss, forced to resign, and to scapegoat us innocent teachers for your financial and academic failures.
    It seems to me that he tax payers will deprive you of your planned huge 6 billion dollar operational budget for your fat pocket for your extravagant, wasteful, and unexplained expenses and doubtful programs.
    Like your old borrowed quotation deprive the fish of water and they just die. The tax payers will deprive an office of too much money and the corruptions in that office will just die down. He, he, he and more he, he, he.
    Long live the US peoples, taxpayers, teachers, parents and students. Down with office corruptions. Down with LAUSD Reign of Terror against innocent teachers. Down with the tyrant mouthy paper monster LAUSD.

  • Michel Keitel

    and down with all teachers unions…unions are needed by losers

  • Michael Kinzig

    Geez. another put-upon Mexo victim incapable of fixing his own culture but able to condemn ours…I f Mexicans really cared about corruption they would fix Mexico,,….fat chance. Why sweat about the teachers?? Mexicans drop out anyway.

  • This is an interesting and so well maintained blog. Whole article is too good and well written.