Rodney King — the man at the center of the Los Angeles riots in 1992, who became nationally known when a video of his beating at the hands of Los Angeles police officers was viewed across the US and internationally — was laid to rest this weekend after he was found dead in a swimming pool at his California home.
King was young, and by many accounts, reckless, at the time he became famous, but at his funeral, a far different man was remembered. The video of Rodney King being beaten for what appeared to be an excessive amount of time in and of itself did not cause racial unrest per se, but the decision of a court to acquit officers charged in the beating sparked off deadly riots in King’s hometown of Los Angeles.
At the time, Rodney King himself implored his fellow Americans to stop the violence and destruction, making a plea that would forever become associated with both the riots and King himself, asking for everyone to “just get along.” Civil rights leader Al Sharpton recalled King’s forgiving and peaceable nature at the funeral, saying:
“People should not be judged by the mistakes that they make, but by how they rise above them. Rodney had risen above his mistakes. He never mocked anyone — not the police, not the justice system, not anyone.”
“He became a symbol of forgiveness.”
An official cause of death has not yet been handed down in Rodney King’s death, although as of now, police believe it was due to an accidental drowning.