1. Rodney King is beaten, sparking the flame:
March 3, 1991: Rodney King is beat by four police officers. He is laying on the ground and is unarmed. His initial crime was driving over the speed limit, but he engaged in a high-speed chase with cops because he feared breaking his parole (for a previous robbery conviction). When he resists arrest, he is tasered and hit with a baton 56 times, and kicked at least six. Nearby and unbeknownst to the officers, a private citizen — George Holliday — caught the confrontation on video (warning: graphic violence at video link).
2. Rodney King, following the beating:
King alleged he had suffered “11 skull fractures, permanent brain damage, broken [bones and teeth], kidney damage [and] emotional and physical trauma.” Nurses at the hospital where he was treated reported that the officers who accompanied King openly joked and bragged about the number of times King had been hit.
On April 29th, 1992, the four officers were acquitted. President George H W Bush: “viewed from outside the trial, it was hard to understand how the verdict could possibly square with the video. Those civil rights leaders with whom I met were stunned. And so was I and so was Barbara and so were my kids.”
4. The Riots:
An aerial view of firemen extinguishing a fire. (AFP PHOTO/MIKE NELSON)
Rioters kick in the window of this Jaguar parked across from City Hall.
Cornelius Pettus, owner of Payless market, throws a bucket of water on the flames at neighboring business Ace Glass during the first night of the Los Angeles Riots.(REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/Los Angeles Times/Files)
A shopping center is engulfed in flames. (REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/Los Angeles Times/Files)
Over 13,000 soldiers were deployed throughout L.A. to maintain order.
A police officer responds to a shooting incident as a Korean American business is set ablaze. (REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/Los Angeles Times/Files)
19. “Can’t we all just get along?”
Rodney King speaks, calling an end to the violence.