Monday, February 25, 2013

The Riot Within

This book was written by someone who lived through a HORRIFIC moment that became HISTORY and lived to tell his tale. The injustices he survived sparked a GIANT outcry into a FULL ON HISTORIC Riot around the city of Los Angeles. To bring detail to that and more is the story from the man himself, Rodney King.

When Rodney was growing up, the thing he loved more than anything was to go fishing, something he acquired from his dad who was the best fisherman around. Aside from fishing every summer, swimming was the thing to do everyday. It didn't matter where they were, they always ended up at the local watering hole. Rodney was a good swimmer and could ALWAYS stay in the water. Incidents of exposed racism as a kid towards him and his brothers made Rodney aware of race. He had no real concept of it. They were all just kids to him. He had no real concept of racial slurs until that day. What happened to him that day made no sense to him. Rodney said it best the statement "children are colorblind by nature, and it's very tragic when the truth changes."

Thanks to his dad keeping him out until 2:00 AM to work w/ him raising tiles to a high shine, Rodney didn't get much of ANY sleep. Due to being too exhausted to concentrate in school or put up a fuss, teachers thought Rodney was qualified as slow and put him in "special" kids. He would be put w/ the mentally disabled kids. Holding him back a year wasn't an potion. Rodney was scared but also relieved. He was embarrassed to be taking the short bus. It made him feel defective, worthless and broken.

He wanted to really play for his school baseball team, which was a talent he was good at. It was his happiest moment when he made the team. He felt normal as though he belonged. Everything/everyone, to him, was fun to be around. Rodney talks about a teacher who wanted to be there for him, but later on found out this teacher had a DISTURBING past w/ secrets. Due to the beatings he survived from his father, that was why it didn't really keep him down when he was being beaten in 1991. It was a tolerable amount of pain he'd experienced before.

Rodney and a few friends at the time worked for long hours and low pay at McDonald's. He worked the late shift. The first time Rodney drank alcohol was at age 11. He loved it from the start and was immediately hooked. He turned into the person he always wanted to be. Rodney had the disease, just like his dad, never realizing anything negative could come from the alcohol. Right from the start, Rodney loved to drink.

Rodney and his brothers earned respect around their neighborhood by cleaning up every New Years Day. When the Rose Bowl came, they would valet park cars in a good spot. Rodney earned himself making extra money w/ a tree cutting business which he loved! Rodney would still suffer from his father. But outside, life was open.

Rodney soon began a routine that at the time was innocent. He began to pick up 40oz. of malt liquor on the way home. It would put him in a happy mood and seemed to make his troubles go away. Rodney's mom eventually left his dad, due to her faith as a Jehovah's Witness' rejection of the physical abuse and struggle she went through w/ her husband. But even remarrying years later, they still loved each other.

He realized that he could never be a Jehovah's Witness due to his mom making the rules clear. Quitting some of these things were too much. Soon drinking in excess to escape became the escape. At age 18, his first arrest was for reckless driving and he served 48 hours community service.

Rodney stated that the night he was beaten by the cops he knew he should've stopped driving the minute he seen cruiser lights in his rear-view mirror. After a convience store charge that was innocent, but plead guilty, it was only the beginning w/ his troubles with the law. During his one year stint in jail, his resident celebrity cellmate was Ike Turner, which was one good memory that Rodney took w/ him.

He was still on parole for the convience store charge when he went driving on 3-3-91 w/ 2 good friends in the car. Rodney was unemployed, but was due to start a job the following Monday. Following a basketball game, it was still early and they decided to go for a drive. There was no definite destination in mind. They were in L.A. at around 10-11p. Rodney must've been in a passing lane that cars hit high speeds real easy. All of a sudden Rodney was stopped an H.P.O. (Highway Patrol Officer). They began to clock at a high speed on city streets. The Los Angeles Police were also tailing him. They chased through city streets. The L.A.P.D. originally reported 15 officers in the chase. Now both C.H.P. (California H. P.) and the L.A.P.D. claimed to chase him due to speeding, but records show not one mention of how fast he was going. Rodney then goes into elaborate detail what escalated on that HISTORIC night.

Rodney could smell the hatred. It was a CLEAR presence. Rodney kept trying to remain calm during the beating, but it was as if the cops were treating him like he was a human pinata seeing who smash him first. Rodney began to think of the racial treatments in the South w/ slaves that had been beaten & lynched. When he thought he had wet himself, turns out it was blood - EVERYWHERE! After being zapped twice, he realized he was going to die. He began to think/see this beating as some sort of penance for all his wrongdoings. Another blow came down, fracturing his eye socket. Then he gave it up and passed out for awhile. Rodney spent 3 days in the LA County Jail before release.

Rodney was soon in the worst state of depression. Thinking he would be fixed up, he heard someone state they had the WHOLE thing on tape. He just cried KNOWING there was evidence of what TRULY happened.

WE ALL KNOW & REMEMBER the trial and the verdict. They all plead not guilty while 3 other officers got suspension without pay. The cops testified later that they thought Rodney was on PCP due to his ability to remain standing. The L.A.P.D acknowledged that medical testing proved of Rodney having no traces in his system. During the trial, the cops pit one against the other. One cop testified that he was following "policies of the Los Angeles Police Dept and the training". The report one of the officers reportedly stated that Rodney only had "contusions & abrasions" and in REALITY Rodney had a lot of broken bones. The same officers evidence "said" he wasn't a racist, but testimony of earlier in his career said otherwise. On 4-23-1992, the case went to the jury and six days later on 4-29-1992, all of the cops were found NOT GUILTY. The mayor at the time thought the L.A.P.D did NOT deserve the uniform. The governor at the time, Bill Clinton, didn't understand the verdict either.

Rodney had a sensing feeling that the officers were going to walk. ALOT of people shared the same feeling. Word spread 3 days earlier that if these guys walked, a full scale riot was ahead. By the time every U.S. news outlet announced the acquittal, Rodney's shock and rage immensely overwhelmed him to want to disappear and be someone else. Statements from the L.A.P.D. and presidential hierarchy kept Rodney's hopes alive and that justice would prevail.

The trial was over, over. It affected everyone differently. Although they didn't know it at the time, when Rodney and his family were sitting on the lawn furniture trying to relax, they caught the tail end of a signal flair. Someone shot it over South Central. They literally witnessed the beginning of the Los Angeles Riots. When they went back inside to watch TV, they found out about the Riots having instantly started. EVERYONE deemed it a travesty of justice.

SHOCKING images appeared on television. The media cameras caught the attorneys congratulated each other. Fear of violence & destruction were becoming a reality. EVERYONE remembers what was shot and aired on LIVE TV! In the blink of an eye, the fury EXPLODED! It was Anti-Kodak moment that re-lived over and over again. Rodney, being a witness through television, was destroyed watching America become a war zone.

If there had been a Ground Zero for the L.A. Riots, it would've been that little patch of South Central.  Everyone all brought stuff for Rodney and his family. He was getting emotional from the shock of what was receiving from others. He was grateful but more concerned for what was happening in the downtown neighborhood. He sensed evil erupting from what he was witness to undercover within a few blocks. He was SHOCKED! He had No IDEA!

As people of different ethnicities clashed, the riots became the heart of darkness. After hearing updated news reports w/ killings, injuries; it was a living, breathing nightmare for Rodney. The city, the state, even the National Guard - NO ONE had ANY indication of this magnitude coming. Up until that point, the racial tension that had been brewing in L.A. had been ignored. No matter what calls or assistance that came in, it wasn't enough. NOTHING Helped!!

By the next morning, fires raged from more than 150 in the city. Everyone was afraid. Businesses closed early, even ones that weren't near the Riots. It was like a city wide shutdown and curfew. LITERALLY! Rodney was devastated because he felt responsible. On the third day of the Riots, Rodney received a call from his lawyer and he knew what it was about. How to handle speaking to the media concerning the Riots. Rodney wanted say meaningful and in his own words instead of a 4-pg script, thanks to his lawyer. Coming  from deep in his heart and soul and as true as he could make it, with that came the memorable words everyone remembers. After a couple of more days, justice was overran and over populated. The Riots Changed America.

The president at the time, George H.W. Bush, insisted that justice be done. The violence triggered by the verdict took the president completely by surprise. He didn't seem to have a single hand on the pulse of racial strife in L.A. Bush was OUTRAGED about the verdict. He ordered the justice dept. to look into possible federal prosecution of the four acquitted cops on the charge of violating Rodney's civil rights. Jesse Jackson took the occasion to really tear into Bush. Other civil rights leaders throughout the nation pointed a finger at Bush for not moving quickly enough to deal w/ the mess in L.A. The Department Of Justice  vigorously enforced the nations Civil Rights laws, and that gave Rodney's family hope. There was a real & rational fear that this violence could spread from city-to-city, then state-to-state. The federal government couldn't take it anymore. A whole summer later, there was so much anger in the city, it felt like the whole thing could explode again. The Department Of Justice decided to prosecute the four officers on federal civil rights charges. 2 cops couldn't believe they were on trial again. All 4 officers faced up to 10 years in jail and $250,000 in fines if convicted. One thing everyone was afraid of: another NOT Guilty verdict due to an onset of another Riot. The trial opened on 2-25-93. They tried to downplay Rodney's injuries during the trial. It was being said that Rodney's injuries weren't serious, "if so he would've left in an ambulance."

After Rodney was put on the stand, he was ready and relieved. He was HONESTLY glad to be on the stand to be telling what REALLY happened HIMSELF! During his testimony, the courtroom was quiet as a church. Rodney's lawyer kept to the subject at hand and NOT mediocre details of parole and speeding. It was tough to describe EVERYTHING, Rodney was at his best recollection. On 4-17-1993, two officers were found GUILTY of violating Rodney's civil rights. Two others were found NOT GUILTY (Wind & Briseno). Everyone stated the verdict was a sigh of relief in L.A. after being handed down. The judge decided that most of the baton blows were legal because Rodney was resisting arrest and the police were trying to subdue him. The judge sentenced the two officers to 30 months in prison and didn't order them to pay anything except $50.00 for a special court assessment. Others DISAGREED with the verdict.

The four officers were indicted for felony assault back in 1991. On 5-8-1991, Rodney and is wife, Crystal, filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of L.A. The case went to trial in 1994. Rodney testified this time in this case w/ his testimony STRAIGHT & TRUE as it happened, and his damaging outcome as a result. The city's lawyers made Rodney out like he was an alcoholic and a criminal and that Rodney's beating was liable. It was less that Rodney's lawyer asked for but but more than the city was willing to pay, but the jury decided on a settlement of $3,816,535.45. One of the cops, Briseno, tried to separate himself from the other officers, stating that it wasn't right what happened that night. He was told to do what he did. Lawyers for the cops stated that the cops' careers were ruined and no longer had savings. They even lost their homes.
They jury decided that 2 cops acted /w malice during the beating. But also that they suffered enough during trial and didn't need to pay Rodney anything in damages. Some thought there was NO JUSTICE and was PURELY black & white. One of the officers eventually stopped coming after Rodney for legal fees. The city stopped coming after him for legal fees. It was stated that Rodney just wanted to move on w/ his life and put this behind him.

After his legal troubles w/ this case, more trouble ensued including drunk driving/D.U.I. and more. Due to a fight w/ his ex, Crystal, that gave Rodney a bad rep that left him depressed for months. More run-ins w/ the law came within the next decade. Rodney couldn't seem to break his patterns w/ alcohol and run-ins w/ the law. One always led to the next, a snowball effect w/ alcohol always being trigger.

Rodney credits Dr. Drew Pinsky and his rehab program and his time on VH1's reality shows teaching him how to live a life of sobriety. It's HARD w/ depression suffering w/ physical attributes of what happened to him. He knew a drink would help, but KNOWS he MUST resist.

The time that Rodney spent w/ lawyer after lawyer, stressing about bringing justice to this case, how his family was going to make it & live it due to Rodney's injuries, something else piled on the stress . . . . Rodney's marriage was on the rocks. After being jerked every which way by an attorney wanting a piece of him and to cash in, Rodney EVENTUALLY found a GENUINE lawyer WITH A HEART. When it was all said and done, after 27 attorneys, Rodney made less than half of his award, $1.7 million.

Rodney's marriage had it's toll on him.  It was thanks to his wife, Crystal, ENDLESSLY talking about the money and how much he would get. They argued too much and the most normal conversation turned to money, which became loud and ugly. He did the only thing he thought would make it end: he seen another woman. In order to rebuild his marriage, Rodney thought to move away from the chaos.

Medgar, Malcolm & Martin
As time went on and all he'd gone through, Rodney needed to educate himself and go forward in a positive light. As time progressed, rather than be proof existence of racism in the L.A.P.D., Rodney thought he could be  positive voice of racial harmony in L.A. Rodney's lawyer began to see him as the perfect work in progress and set him up w/ a tutor. Her job was to give Rodney a sense of HISTORY about the black man. She taught him about MAJOR black leaders; such as Medgar, Malcolm & Martin. Rodney gathered a sense of strength after learning of these men AND their achievements.  After awhile, Rodney began to see how he could be a positive symbol as well. As he worked to rebuild his image, symbolically Rodney was being put in a same class that African-Americans see just as vitally important.

Rodney was determined to get in better shape, did it and he felt great. The more black history he learned, the more his attitude improved. He began to attend an alcohol rehab program to get into better shape. He began to work on of the toughest: fixing his marriage. With the 1.7 million, Rodney moved forward w/ his dreams of creating a rap studio. After doing his homework and what was needed, he called his studio Straight Alta-Pazz Recording, after where he grew up. After an amazing ride and collapse, so did he. He lost control, either for that or being a poster child, Rodney was arrested again for spousal abuse. Due to having been hooked on PCP, Rodney was ordered to a year of drug treatment.

After that, things would just progress. He had no ability to walk away from his downfall; drugs. In late November 2007, Rodney was riding his bike and was shot by a mysterious benefactor. The shots came from out of nowhere and slammed into his face, arm & back. After the hospital, the cops thought he had been drinking and wasn't able to put together helpful leads. Rodney was drinking everyday up until then. His sobriety and AA commitments were out the window. After recovering from the gunshot wounds, Rodney was approached about another program, so in 2008 he checked into a recovery center that had camera following him. The camera were due the VH1 reality series 'Celebrity Rehab w/ Dr. Drew', then later their spin-off 'Sober House'.

 After deals were going good for him w/ 'Celebrity Boxing' events and directing his energy into exercise, Rodney was invited back to 'Celebrity Rehab' and speak to others as part of an alumni. In 2010, Rodney reunited w/ a former girlfriend that was actually a juror in the case that awarded him the $3.8 million. After reconnecting, Rodney proposed. He was THANKFUL that he could find a special love.

Around the 20TH anniversary of the beating, Rodney agreed to participate in a CNN special, opening about truths he hadn't revealed before. Rodney does go into deep regret of his wrongdoings that night. He knew he was in the wrong for what he done, but that DID NOT orchestrate what followed. Over the years, the name, Rodney King, became synonymous with crime and relations thereof. Rodney states in the end to live, learn & love!

Since this book's publication, in 2012, Rodney's fiance, Cynthia, found him at the bottom of the swimming pool. After attempting a rescue, he was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. He died of an accidental drowning with drugs and alcohol in his system.

                                                          Rodney King (1965-2012)


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