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Rodney King dead at 47; His beating sparked small riots even here in Atlanta

Rodney King was found dead in his pool on Sunday.

CNN reported that Rodney King was found dead at the bottom of his pool at about 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

King's fiancee Cynthia Kelly made the 9-1-1 call, and Rialto, California police officers responded to find Rodney King at the bottom of the pool and later pronounced deceased.

Mr. King was called, " a symbol of civil rights and he represented the anti-police brutality and anti-racial profiling movement of our time," the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement. "It was his beating that made America focus on the presence of profiling and police misconduct."

All over the country African-Americans were outraged after viewing Rodney King's brutal beating at the hands of 4 white police officers that struck him nearly 50 times with their batons.  The outrage turned in to pure rage once an all-white Los Angeles jury did not find any of the officers guilty of using excessive force.

At that point in 1992, the L.A. Riots began and Los Angeles was burning.  Looting was rampant and misguided young people stormed the streets looking for someone to take out their frustrations on and in some cases they tragically found people.

If you were of age in 1992, you can remember that the riots were not only contained to L.A., they spread to many of the major cities, on a much smaller scale, including Atlanta. 

I have talked to close friends that were AUC students at the time of the riots, that say they staged a walk out and roamed the streets in large numbers looking for some way to react to the verdict.  "We were mad, and we wanted to be a part of what was happening in California," one person told me.

In an old CNN video you can see that people gathered downtown near Underground Atlanta and the Mitchell Street bridge, to shout at police and in some cases vandalize police equipment and stores.

Rodney King is most famous for saying "Can we just All get along?" as the LA riots spiraled out of control.  That sentence has now become part of the "pop vernacular" that people use on a regular basis.  Even in that moment Rodney King was not full of hate and revenge.  He was pushing for calmness and reconciliation.

Before his death on Sunday, Rodney King was asked about forgiveness.  He said:

"Yes, I've forgiven them, because I've been forgiven many times," he said. "My country's been good to me ... This country is my house, it's the only home I know, so I have to be able to forgive -- for the future, for the younger generation coming behind me, so ... they can understand it and if a situation like that happened again, they could deal with it a lot easier."

Cascade Patch Readers, do you remember the days during the LA Riots?  Where you here in Atlanta?  What happened here in Atlanta?  How did you feel and what did people do about it?  Please Share your thoughts on this subject.

Marc Richardson (Editor) June 18, 2012 at 04:40 PM
I remember being in high school when the verdict was read and the LA Riots started. I was in San Diego at the time, and all of the black students staged a walk out around lunchtime. The police were called and they tried to catch us as we dispersed and all got away. We did not riot though, nor cause much damage. Just tried to find a way to show our emotion.

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