Riots rarely start out of the blue – they are just the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Just like the Los Angeles riots. According Story, on March 3, 1991, Rodney King led police in a car chase while driving under the influence. When he was arrested, four police officers – like NPR reports, three of them were white – beat King for 15 minutes straight, in that King was left with a fractured skull, broken bones and permanent brain damage.
As History notes, Lakeview resident George Holliday filmed King’s beating and sent him to KTLA. People were outraged – it was just one of many cases of racial injustice and police brutality against minorities in the United States. The death of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins, a black teenager accused of shoplifting orange juice who was shot and killed by a Korean store owner, reports NPR, has added fuel to the fire. Turns out she was just looking for her money when he shot her.
But on April 29, 1992, after the four officers were charged with excessive use of force, they were all acquitted. Three hours later, one of the biggest riots in American history began. According to History, with 2,000 injuries, 12,000 arrests, $1 billion in property destruction and 63 deaths later, the LAPD fired the four officers, two of whom served jail time. The riots were an urgent context for discussing racial inequality and police harassment of black communities across the United States