Rodney King Was NOT The REASON The L.A. Riots Occurred – INJUSTICE Was

Yesterday I was watching Don Lemon on CNN [is it just me, or does anyone else find this guy to be an insufferable DOUCHE sometimes?] and I found myself filled with the desire to scream at the screen and attempt to reach through to Falcon punch him in his light-skinneded chest. While he was announcing the very sad and unfortunate drowning death of Rodney King this past weekend, he kept mentioning how Rodney was the reason the L.A. riots occurred, which gradually ENRAGED me. Being a Black man, I would expect Don to have put more time, care and thought into his remarks, but it was clear he was either unable or unwilling to frame the riots in any proper context – and that is sad as HELL.

I expect any random person disconnected from the urban-Black experience to see the riots as nothing more than greedy, opportunistic negroes destroying property, stealing sh*t and throwing bricks at the domes of white truck drivers. Although that element is ALWAYS apparent in ANY kind of riot [regardless of race], to view the L.A. riots in 1992 as NOTHING more than that is to overlook an EXTREMELY important element of our community’s shared struggle. The problem with stating that Rodney King was the reason the Los Angeles riots occurred is to miss one VERY important part of the ENTIRE issue: The rioting did NOT begin after the video was released of King being excessively beaten and abused by the police – the rioting began after ALL four officers were ACQUITTED of assault and excessive force.

Understand the HISTORY of police brutality in the Black community BEFORE this event was captured on tape. These types of excessive, UNLAWFUL and over-the-top attacks were the sort of things the Black community had been complaining about for years – we just didn’t have any proof. Kids today can get caught up on ALL the police’s misuse of force simply by visiting Worldstarhiphip or surfing Youtube, but back in the days we didn’t have camcorders to catch the assaults in mass supply, and DEFINITELY were not lucky enough to be in the vicinity to catch cops red handed. And THAT’S why the Rodney King beating was so important to us – because it visually legitimized the concerns the politicians, the police and the rest of society had been IGNORING for so long. Basically, we GOT ’em.

But on April 29th, 1992, a jury comprised of ten white people, 1 hispanic and 1 asian decided that the vicious beating of King was NOT vicious enough to convict the officers of ASSAULT. A beating that would have landed charges against those very same 4 men had it been on a Black cat, Black dog or even a Black bear, got them NOTHING for being on a Black man – and that VERY same day is when the RIOTS started.

I do NOT condone the actions of the looters, nor do I see the point in looting YOUR part of town. I always thought intelligent rioting should be aimed at destroying the court house or torching a police station, [ALTHOUGH THAT’S ALL WRONG] it definitely makes more sense than wrecking shops in YOUR neighbourhood. But what should be NOTED about the rioting is the emotional, mental and spiritual FATIGUE that ran through our community that day. We played the game the right way and did everything by the books. We abided by the judicial system and let due process take its place – only to get F*^KED over. And when your words, emotions, prayers and desires go unheeded and unanswered, it’s INEVITABLE that the rage will boil over and manifest itself physically [Once again, not saying it’s right].

All I ask is that when we talk about the 1992 L.A. riots, we do so with PROPER CONTEXT. The Black community didn’t riot JUST because we saw one Black man being beaten by the police – we rioted because the justice system proved that even in the most OVERTLY OBVIOUS cases, they would STILL find a way to screw us over.

“We might fight amongst each other, but I promise you this/
We’ll burn this b*tch down, get us pissed”
– 2Pac “To Live & Die In L.A.”

This Is Your Conscience

When Lincoln Anthony Blades is not writing for his controversial and critically acclaimed blog, he can be found contributing articles for Uptown Magazine. Lincoln wrote the hilarious and insightful book "You're Not A Victim, You're A Volunteer: How To Stop Letting Love Kick Your Ass". He is also a public speaker who has sat on panels all over North America and the Caribbean.


  1. lincolnanthonyblades

    06/18/2012 at 3:24 AM

    Ladies & Gentlemen, Do You Think The Black Community Was More Enraged About The Actual Incident Of Rodney Being Beaten [Especially Since It Was Captured On Tape], The Acquittal Of The Officers, Or Was It Just Everything In Total?

    • NurseJilly

      06/18/2012 at 12:07 PM

      I think you worded it perfectly. If it was simply the beating then the riots would have started the day the tape was released. The anger erupted after the acquittal of those animals. That acquittal was a slap in the face to a community that had been victimized by one of the most corrupt police forces for years. If the officers were properly punished the 1st time around I doubt there would have been any rioting at all.

      • HerCommonSense

        06/18/2012 at 4:01 PM

        My sentiments exactly Jill.

  2. MistaHarsh

    06/18/2012 at 9:10 AM

    You pretty much got it right. It was an accumulation of all the injustices in LA. The LA police force was known for major, major corruption leading up to that point. Almost by accident it was caught on tape by a white man who couldn't believe his eyes and knew he needed to record this act because it would have fallen under the "blue shield" has usual.

    When those officers were acquitted by their peers (one hispanic, one asian the rest white…oh btw the prosecutor was black), the injustice resonated with blacks across the world (Anyone remember the riot in downtown Toronto?) and it also lead to people in general never going anywhere without some type of a recording device as a precaution.

    I don't think the riot would have occurred if they were found guilty of at least the lesser charge of excessive force but only one was found guilty of that(WTH!) the others walked on EVERYTHING!

    And please don't counter argue with the OJ trial as the act was NOT on tape.

    • A Grown Ass Man

      06/18/2012 at 10:55 AM

      I was just telling one of my young cousins about how the Rodney King trial bled over into the OJ Simpson case…the fact that a Black man seemed to screw the system led us to be so happy and jump around with joy

      R.I.P. Rodney King

  3. A Grown Ass Man

    06/18/2012 at 10:55 AM

    I can not fathom how those cops got acquitted the way they were beating him

    • The_Mad_HATER

      06/18/2012 at 1:02 PM

      yeah he was laying face down with his hands at his side!!

  4. NurseJilly

    06/18/2012 at 12:20 PM

    I think when you go throught the right channels and still get no justice people are left with a huge amount of anger and this will be the issue with the Trayvon Martin case if that douche bag Zimmerman gets acquitted. I realize there are several differences in the two cases as far as video taped evidence but the anger if this young man gets no justice will be the same.

    • The_Mad_HATER

      06/18/2012 at 1:03 PM

      i dunno jill!! it seems like the black community is getting used to getting screwed over!!

  5. iluvwhoiluv

    06/19/2012 at 2:45 PM

    It was the combination of both things. Here was proof that the force used was excessive, and yet, even after seeing the proof, there was an acquittal. There's just something wrong when seeing someone beaten up to that extent, and yet, the acquittal basically made it right, made it okay…certain things people just have no business getting away with, and that is one of them!

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