| ‘Reservoir Dogs’
Social Context 2- Rodney King and the LA riots.
Rodney King was an African-American construction worker that while on parole for robbery became nationally known after being beaten with excessive force by Los Angeles police officers following a high-speed car chase on March 3, 1991. George Holliday, a resident in the nearby area, witnessed the beating and videotaped much of it from the balcony of his nearby apartment.
The videotaped footage shows five Los Angeles area officers surrounding King, with several of them striking him repeatedly. During the struggle to subdue King, other officers stood by, without seeming to take action to stop King from being struck. A portion of the footage was aired around the world, inflaming public outrage in Los Angeles and other American cities where racial tension was often high. The videotape also increased public sensitivity to, and anger about police brutality, racism, and other social inequalities throughout the United States.
Four of the police officers from the LAPD who took part in the incident were charged in Los Angeles County Superior Court with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force for their conduct during the incident. On April 29, 1992 three of the four police officers, (Koon, Wind, and Briseno) were acquitted of all charges. The jury acquitted the fourth officer, (Powell), on the assault with a deadly weapon charge but failed to reach a verdict on the use of excessive force charge.
The acquittals are generally considered to have triggered the 1992 Los Angeles riots, in which 53 people were killed, and over two thousand were injured. The riots ended after soldiers from the United States Army National Guard, along with United States Marines from nearby Camp Pendleton, California, were called in to assist local authorities and quell the riots.
Thousands of people throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan area rioted over the six days following the announcement of the verdict. Widespread looting, assault, arson and murder occurred during the riots, and estimates of property damages topped one billion dollars.
During the riots, King appeared on television and offered what would later be his famous plea, "Can we all get along?
On August 4, 1992 a Federal Grand Jury after hearing evidence from federal prosecutors indicted the four officers on charges of violating King's civil rights. On April 16, 1993 the trial ended with two of the police officers, (Koon and Powell) found guilty, and subsequently imprisoned. The other two officers, (Wind and Briseno) were acquitted.