Sunday, June 17, 2012

On the late Rodney King

I just learned that Rodney King died today.

Why am I writing about King in my Inland Empire blog? Because in the last years of his life, King lived out here with us. Earlier today, he was found at the bottom of the pool at his Rialto home. He was pronounced dead at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton.

Views on King often span two extremes. Some considered him a heroic symbol. Some considered him a drunken criminal. The truth is somewhere in between.

King certainly was not perfect. Then again, neither am I.

Whatever else he did in his life, or was done to him in his life, King secured his place in history by his reaction to the Los Angeles riots - riots that began because of the initial jury verdict for the people accused of beating him. The Los Angeles Times records King's reaction to the riots:

King said he was shocked to see the destruction of the riots that followed the not-guilty verdicts.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing," he says. "Mayhem, people everywhere ... looting, burning. Gunshots. I turned back and went home. I looked at all of that and I thought to the way I was raised, with good morals from my mother, even though I didn't always follow them.

"I said to myself, 'That is not who I am, all this hate. I am not that guy. This does not represent me or my family, killing people over this. No, sir, that is not the way I was raised by my mother.' I began to realize that I had to say something to the people, had to try to get them to stop."

So, on the third day of the rioting, he pleaded on television: "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?"

A simple question, but a powerful one.

Rest in peace, Rodney.

blog comments powered by Disqus