Could it happen again?
That is the taboo question on the 20th anniversary of Los Angeles’s murderous Rodney King riots, just as another racially charged prosecution — this time in Florida — captures headlines across the nation.
Sadly, the answer is yes.
As the Oakland riots in 2009 and 2010 following a transit officer’s fatal shooting of a parolee made clear, the threat of riots — what Fred Siegel has called “riot ideology” — still hangs over interracial incidents of violence when the "victim" is black.
And just as the press cynically manipulated the facts in the Rodney King beating in order to increase racial tensions, it has done so again in the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida.
The best hope for avoiding a repeat of the L.A. mayhem, should blacks not be satisfied with the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, is that police forces across the country have learned the lesson of the Rodney King riots: that outbreaks of civil anarchy must be immediately and unapologetically suppressed.
* HEAR! HEAR!
* AND LET ME ADD, WHILE THE AUTHOR IS REFERRING TO A SPECIFIC SITUATION WHERE USING THE SPECIFIC LANGUAGE OF "...SHOULD BLACKS NOT BE SATISFIED..." IS TOTALLY APPROPRIATE, I BELIEVE HER POSITION IS THE SAME AS MINE, NAMELY, RIOTING - REGARDLESS OF WHO THE RIOTERS ARE - MUST NOT BE TOLERATED.
Anniversary coverage of the 1992 riots (or, as the New York Times is still willing to put it, “civil unrest”) has whitewashed the violence and imposed a predictable storyline: that the riots were caused by the Los Angeles Police Department, not by the individuals who viciously assaulted motorists and shot Korean store owners.
* FRIGGIN' NYT... (*JUST SHAKING MY HEAD*)
True, the LAPD had a troubled history with blacks in South Central Los Angeles. But the Rodney King beating was not a function of that history. In the 1950s and 1960s, LAPD Chief William Parker responded to the perennial problem of L.A. policing — too few cops, too much ground to cover — by cultivating an imperious command-and-control attitude in officers that sometimes merged into outright racism in the city’s high crime black areas. But by the 1980s, despite Parker’s earlier efforts to insulate the department from political interference, it was anti-cop politics, not the Centurion ideal, that most shaped the LAPD.
The department lowered physical standards to meet hiring quotas for females and minorities; those lowered standards increased the risk that officers would resort to firearms and other instruments of lethal force to subdue recalcitrant suspects. A ban on the use of the choke-hold likewise made use of the baton more likely. The Rodney King beating was the outgrowth of these political pressures.
Pumped up on alcohol and drugs, King led officers on a high-speed chase across L.A.’s freeways and residential streets far north of South Central. When the officers finally stopped him, they tried non-violent means of arresting him — verbal commands, a group tackle, handcuffs, and, finally, a taser — but he fiercely fought all of them off.
Only after King lunged at the officers did they resort to the baton.
A civilian video captured much of the stop, but... the media edited out the nonviolent prelude to the baton blows.
The loop beamed around the world thousands of times appeared to show an unprovoked beating of King, agonizingly prolonged because the main protagonist, the diminutive Laurence Powell, was physically over-matched by King and incompetent in use of the baton. (King’s two passengers, by comparison, complied with the officers’ orders and were arrested without incident.)
Unlike most of the public, the jury that decided the excessive-force charges against the officers saw the full video.
They acquitted the officers.
By then, the media had disseminated the relentless message that the biggest threat facing blacks in L.A. was the cops, not the hundreds of gangs that murdered blacks every week with zero protest from racial advocates. The verdict itself, according to the advocates and their press allies, could only have been produced by a criminal-justice system stacked against blacks.
(*SADLY SHAKING MY HEAD*)
* FOLKS... AGAIN... GENERAL COMMENT: THIS IS WHY YOU NEED TO READ NEWSBITES. THE MEDIA - EVEN THE SO-CALLED "CONSERVATIVE" MEDIA - LIES AND DISTORTS REALITY SO OFTEN THAT UNLESS ONE HAS THE SORT OF KNOWLEDGE BASE I DO IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO GET SUCKED IN AT TIMES. THIS ISN'T EGO TALKING; THIS IS FACT! COM'ON... HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU LEARNED SOMETHING YOU ORDINARILY WOULDN'T HAVE VIA NEWSBITES?! AND NOTICE, FOLKS, MY CRITIQUES AREN'T LIMITED TO DEMOCRATS AND LIBERALS. NO. I SLAM THE REPUBLICANS CONSTANTLY! I SLAM "CONSERVATIVES" CONSTANTLY! IT'S CALLED "INTEGRITY" AND UNFORTUNATELY... FEW IN THE MEDIA POSSESS IT.
Fifty-four dead, 2,328 hospitalizations, nearly $1 billion in property damage. Twenty years later, the media seems interested mainly in asking how Rodney King feels about things now and whether the LAPD has changed. The suggestion that individuals were accountable for the violence is absent, and the clear implication in the coverage is that society had it coming. No reporter or commentator has asked: what collapse of socialization could lead to such nihilistic violence? Or: Has anything improved in the black family or black culture to guard against such depravity in the future?
The press could use the 1992 riots as an occasion for self-examination. Instead, history is repeating itself. The build-up around the Trayvon Martin shooting seems almost designed to provoke riots should the case not come out the way the race agitators and the media think it should.
As with the King beating, the press has doctored evidence and suppressed relevant context.
[They are] once again promoting falsehoods — that the criminal justice system is racist and that blacks are under assault from racist whites. (To the contrary, young black males are under assault from other young blacks, who commit homicide at ten times the rate of young white and Hispanic males combined. White-on-black killings are negligible compared with black-on-white killings and are a minute fraction of the over 6,000 blacks mowed down every year by other blacks. Blacks kill whites and Hispanics at two-and-a-half times the rate at which whites and Hispanics kill blacks, though blacks are only one-sixth of the combined white and Hispanic population.)
It seems almost unimaginable that a jury would acquit Zimmerman after the intense campaign insisting on the symbolic racial status of the case. But should such an outcome come to pass, every police department in the country should be prepared to put down any ensuing violence at its first outbreak, in the name of justice for all. This much we should all have learned from the ugliness of 1992.