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On the Tenth Anniversary of the Rodney King Uprising in Los Angeles, a Look Back at One of the Largest Uprisings in Modern U.S. History

StoryApril 30, 2002
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This week is the tenth anniversary of one of the largest uprisings in modern US history, the uprising in Los Angeles sparked by the acquittal of four white police officers who beat Rodney King.

On April 29, 1992, an all-white jury acquitted four white police officers in the beating of an African American man, Rodney King. This despite a videotape that showed the officers hitting King with their batons over 50 times, kicking him, and shooting him with an electronic stun gun, as he lay on the ground.

After the videotape was broadcast, a grand jury indicted all four officers on a number of charges. The world assumed a guilty verdict was inevitable. But then the judge moved the trial to Simi Valley, a largely white enclave in conservative suburbia. He ruled the officers could not be guaranteed an impartial trial in LA. Many felt they could not get an impartial trial in Simi Valley. A few months later, the jury acquitted the officers of all charges. An hour and fifteen minutes after the acquittal came down, what will be remembered forever as "the LA riots," or the LA rebellion, began.

Ten years ago, fires spread throughout the streets of South-Central, Long Beach, Hollywood, Koreatown, and West LA. 55 people were killed. More than 2,300 people were injured, and more than 1,100 buildings were damaged or destroyed. More than 13,000 National Guard and federal officers were called in by President George Bush senior. And most of the 10,000 people arrested were Latino and black young men. We are going to turn to an audio documentary, produced at Pacifica station KPFK in Los Angeles, and take a look at Los Angles during those stormy months of 1992 and today.


  • "The Rodney King Uprising: Ten Years Later," an audio documentary produced at Pacifica station KPFK in Los Angeles. Produced by Armando Gudino. Associate Producer/Editor: Nathan Thompson. Contributing Producers: Christopher Sprinkle, Eben Ray, Maria Kim, and Zubery Fields. Music by Rage Against the Machine. Some of the people featured are Maxine Waters, California Congresswoman, Warren Caton, West Hollywood gay activist and business owner, Oscar Vergara, teacher and activist, Pastor Brian McNight, of the Baptist Church of South Central LA, which has been in south central for over 90 years, Roxanna Hernandez, an immigrant worker from El Salvador, and Miguel Paredes, from Boys and Girls club in East Los Angeles.


  • Killing In The Name Of–Rage Against the Machine.
  • God Save Us From Ourselves–Walela, Unbearable Love.

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