Rodney King Riots Mitch morris

Video of the Rodney King Attack

What caused these riots.

  • On March 3, 1991, four LA policemen-- Stacy Koon, Ted Briseno, Lawrence Powell, and Timothy Wind--conducted a traffic stop of a car driven by Rodney King.
  • Once King steps out of his vehicle, he is shot by a lazer gun and senselessly beaten ( hit 53-56 times with baton ). George Holliday videotapes the beating.
  • Remarkably, in the state criminal trial, a jury found all four officers not guilty of the charges. On April 29th, 1992, A widespread riot broke out in Los Angeles. Within hours of the verdict's announcement, people protested in the streets and reportedly burned, looted, and terrorized the entire city. The protest was considered a race riot, due to the fact that King was African American and the police officers accused of beating him were all Caucasian.

About the riots

  1. Angry black and Hispanic youths began attacking white motorists, including a truck driver named Reginald Denny (1953–), who nearly died after being pulled from his truck and beaten with bricks and bats. Unarmed African Americans who lived nearby saw the footage on television and ran out to rescue the unconscious man. Soon after the Denny beating, Fidel Lopez, a Guatemalan immigrant, was severely beaten at the same intersection.
  2. Mayor Tom Bradley calls a local state of emergency. Moments later, Gov. Pete Wilson, at Bradley’s request, orders the National Guard to activate 2,000 reserve soldiers.
  3. After three days of violence and looting, the riot was finally stopped with the help of the National Guard and the Marine Corps . Between fifty and sixty people had died and two thousand more were injured. Damage estimates climbed to nearly $1 billion.
  4. Koreatown was badly damaged and was not given the proper help they needed such as firetrucks to put out fires.

What impact did the riots have on history:

  • The video was the first time they had concrete evidence against police brutality. Once this video came out and the riots happened, it created a mistrust in police and brought racism to the spotlight. This event created many organizations to make sure a particular culture wasn't being mistreated.
  • Black lives matter movement also stems from this event.

What other events did it lead to?

  • The OJ Simpson Trial was decided during this time. Many believe that the verdict of the trial was decided to ease the tensions that came from these riots.
  • Again, the Black Lives Matter movement stems from this event.


It is crucial to know that police brutality does exist and that changes should be made to help combat racism. This event also proved the power and destructiveness that ordinary people could do, which made police training more intensive.


  • Culver, Kathleen B. "Los Angeles Riots." Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 5, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003, p. 155. U.S. History in Context, Accessed 30 Apr. 2017.
  • "Rodney G. King." World of Criminal Justice, Gale, 2002. Biography in Context, Accessed 30 Apr. 2017.
  • "Racial Prejudice." Prejudice in the Modern World Reference Library, vol. 1: Almanac, UXL, 2007, pp. 61-82. Global Issues in Context, Accessed 30 Apr. 2017.
  • Benson, Sonia, et al. "Los Angeles Riots (1992)." UXL Encyclopedia of U.S. History, vol. 5, UXL, 2009, pp. 921-922. U.S. History in Context, Accessed 30 Apr. 2017.

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