Rodney King – Dead At Age 47

Rodney King’s historic statement, and the tragic events that preceded them, were one of the central inspirations for the most popular post I’ve ever written for this blog: Black On The Right Side. They were also present, in my mind, all during the writing of Tolerance… Not! Race, where I recounted many of my own painful experiences while growing up in an effort to expose the fundamentally counter-productive nature of racism amidst my fears of a racist backlash after the election of President Obama.

Well, the obvious yet barely mentioned racist backlash against President Obama goes on, but poor Rodney, at least, won’t have to watch it play out any longer.

Los Angeles (CNN) — Rodney King, whose beating by Los Angeles police in 1991 was caught on camera and sparked riots after the acquittal of the four officers involved, was found dead in his swimming pool Sunday, authorities and his fiancee said. He was 47.

Police in Rialto, California, received a 911 call from King’s fiancee, Cynthia Kelly, about 5:25 a.m., said Capt. Randy DeAnda. Responding officers found King at the bottom of the pool, removed him and attempted to revive him. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital, DeAnda said.

There were no preliminary signs of foul play, he said, and no obvious injuries on King’s body. Police are conducting a drowning investigation, DeAnda said, and King’s body would be autopsied.

“His fiancee heard him in the rear yard,” he said, and found King in the pool when she went outside.

Kelly was a juror in King’s lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles in 1994.

via Rodney King dead at 47 –

Rest in peace Rodney.

I want ice water.

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26 thoughts on “Rodney King – Dead At Age 47

  1. I’m so glad you posted the video that shows exactly what King said instead of the frequent paraphrases. The crazier and more divided our nation becomes, the more I remember King’s words. I want to shout them over and over from the rooftops. Why, why, why can’t we all just get along?

    R.I.P. Rodney.


    • Thanks PT. Originally, I was just going to start off with “Why can’t we all just get along?” in blockquotes, but I wanted to include the date he said it by his name. I ran across the video by accident while searching for it. I’m glad I did because, I think, it’s so much better this way.

      I also think his words should be emblazoned in every place the public meets. 😕


  2. Whatever his personal faults might have been, Rodney King’s plea resonates with issues of inequality of all kinds. It immediately reminded me of one of the most eloquent essays I’ve ever read on the subject of, well, people getting along with each other. “We Are Americans” is the cover story of the latest edition of Time Magazine. I highly recommend it to everyone.


    • Thanks Jim. I will check that out.

      There was line, from a movie I think, that went something like “We don’t need your kind around here!” Whenever collectivistic “gang” mentalities make headlines, like those feigning “outrage” over illegal immigrants, or over President Obama’s nationality, that line plays through my head right along with Rodney King’s plea.

      I’m also reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” 😕


  3. For the longest time there have been people who look to a time when there are no divisions…all we can do is hope one day we or our children will see it in play.


  4. rest in peace Rodney… awful part of our history but not surprising, hadn’t seen his heartfelt plea on video before, such perfect few words ‘can’t we all just get along’…


    • I was watching some of his taped interviews earlier. He said that he was grateful for the positive things that have come from it, despite the horrible beating he took, but that he was totally shocked and sickened by the terrible events of the riots – The riots that were justified, by the rioters, because of what was done to him.

      I understand exactly what he means. I don’t know if you’ve ever read it but, in my Tolerance… Not! Race post, I said:

      “In 1968, while living in Los Angeles, I was jumped by two Black kids because according to them, and unbeknownst to me, their classroom was at war with my classroom.”

      I left out the part where my “classmates” picked out the weakest member of that other class and beat the living crap out of him. I guess that I was still too overwhelmed by, and ashamed of, what they did to write about it, even after all these years. But you’d better believe that I know the meaning of “with friends like these, who needs enemies?” 😕


  5. I will never understand intolerance. My great-grandmother was half-black, half-mexican,(she lived in Ciudad Juarez then later in Texas) on my biological father’s side of the family. I spent a few years of my later childhood with the sperm donor and he was the biggest racist I have ever met. And his own grandmother was the very thing he hated. When he gave me a picture of her, in my mid-twenties, I was certainly perplexed. How can one hate his own heritage? He was always spouting off the N-word and years later I find out he has “black” blood. WTF? I am so glad I have a mind of my own and didn’t have any of his effed up beliefs rub off on me. Have you ever heard of such a screwed up individual? (Besides Hitler, and that’s a whole nuther ball of insanity, there.)


    • My mother was half Black and half American Indian. My father was half Black and half White. By some twisted joke of Nature, I ended up looking so different (unless you looked real close) that people were always mistaking me for either a poor little White child lost in the ‘hood, or some kind of dangerous “spy” living in their midst. And the strangest thing of all was the way my mother insisted on comparing everything we all did to how the White people whose houses she cleaned did things – as if those were the examples we should all model our lives by. Argh! 😕


      • I got none of the pretty genes. I’m vanilla white with straight brown hair, as plane as Jane. My hubby had a similar problem as you. His father was Native American and his mother hispanic but he is very dark sharsho he got called Negro (in spanish) by his family and teased endlessly, he looks so different from the people he was surrounded by in his El Paso project neighborhood. Not quite as harsh as your circumstances but still an outcast.
        And I don’t get how being white is so wonderful. I’d rather my DNA was full of kinky curls and mocha skin. That, to me, is so much more beautiful. And perhaps i can’t identify with a race hellbent on obliterating everything that’s different from it?


  6. If it isn’t racism it’s sexism. If it isn’t sexism it’s homophobia . I think the human race is inherently intolerant of friggin everything. We should all just buy a dog. Sad day.


    • It’s sad Loon, but there’s a frightened little cave person hiding inside of us all. What’s worse is that we inhibit our ability to evolve beyond it by denying that evolution exists at all! 😕

      But, on a “lighter” note, we can still make fun of ourselves! 😀


  7. I didn’t know he had died. What’s most tragic is that his plea that we all get along went unheeded. And the rioting that followed the obviously unjust verdict in the trial simply worsened the situation. Peaceful protest can accomplish a great deal, but rioting never accomplishes anything.


    • You know Scott, there are so many things that I don’t, and probably never will, understand. But this one has to be at the top of that very long list: In a world filled with people capable of understanding that “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent” (Isaac Asimov), why is it, then, that the world is ruled by incompetent people? 😕


  8. God, I remember those riots so vividly, and King’s pleas for sanity. The whole damned situation was outrageous. What did stealing a television have to do with a bunch of white cops beating a black man? Friggin loon is right, it’s always something dividing us.

    But loved the cartoon in your comment.


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