Dear Rodney

I am currently living in a place where no one is rioting and the biggest struggle for me today will be getting my car out of my snow-packed driveway. I remember the day when the Rodney King verdict came out…I was sitting at a Mexican restaurant with my mom and sister in Encinitas, California, we were soon to be moving to Iowa and discussing that over salsa and chips as we waited for our food. The TV was loud and my mom shook her head. We ate our meal and went back to our comfortable neighborhood…we watched the news in our home while two hours away LA was on fire.

I am sad today and as confused as I was 22 years ago as to why justice is a name we use yet so frequently do not seem to understand at all.

An jury of 10 whites, one Hispanic, and one Filipina in the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley acquits four police officers who had been charged with using excessive force in arresting black motorist Rodney King a year earlier. The announcement of the verdict, which enraged the black community, prompted widespread rioting throughout much of the sprawling city. It wasn’t until three days later that the arson and looting finally ended.

Immediately after the verdict was announced that afternoon, protestors took to the streets, engaging in random acts of violence. At the corner of Florence and Normandie streets, Reginald Denny, a white truck driver, was dragged from his truck and severely beaten by several angry rioters. A helicopter crew caught the incident on camera and broadcast it live on local television. Viewers saw first-hand that the police, woefully unprepared, were unwilling—or unable—to enforce the law in certain neighborhoods of the city.

As it became evident that breaking the law in much of South Central Los Angeles would yield little, if any, consequences, opportunistic rioters came out in full force on the night of April 29, burning retail establishments all over the area. Police still had no control of the situation the following day. Thousands of people packed the streets and began looting stores. Korean-owned businesses were targeted in particular. For most, the looting was simply a crime of opportunity rather than any political expression.

The acquitted police officers were later convicted of violating Rodney King’s civil rights in a federal court trial. Reginald Denny’s attackers were identified through the helicopter videotape, arrested, and convicted of assault and battery. However, the jury declined to convict on attempted murder charges, apparently due to the defense’s argument that the defendants had only fallen prey to uncontrollable mob rage. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/rodney-king-trial-verdict-announced

History seems frozen

On November 17, Governor Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated the Missouri National Guard prior to the grand jury decision.

On November 24, McCulloch reported in a 20 minute press conference that the grand jury reached a decision in the case and elected not to indict Wilson.

Following the grand jury announcement on November 24, 2014, stating that there would be no indictment of Officer Wilson, several Ferguson businesses were looted and fires were set by protestors.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Michael_Brown

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