Rock n' Roll Doggie
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: San Mateo
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Originally posted by elevated_u2_fan
I'm kind of torn on this one...
We don't really know what this guy did before the arrest so I can't really say if the police are wrong applying that much force and did anyone see dude's laywer, he seems kind of shady to me...
On the other hand, the cops are pretty brutal, the knee to the throat is bad enough, do you need to keep punching him? Also there is the LAPD's previous track reccord :cough: Rodney King :cough:...
Rodney King's Legacy
Author Lou Cannon looks back on the case that shook Los Angeles to its core
The long saga of the Rodney King beating can be told in what seems to be a series of unfortunate coincidences and ironies.
The beating of Rodney King and the subsequent trial left a painful legacy in its wake
If only George Holliday hadn't had a video recorder on hand to tape the beating on March 3, 1991. If only Los Angeles police officer Laurence Powell had been pulled off the beat earlier that night for failing an on-the-spot test of his baton skills.
If only Superior Court Judge Stanley Weisberg had followed appeals court rulings precisely and moved the trial outside of the reach of the L.A. media, instead of suburban Simi Valley. If only the LAPD and city officials had heeded community suspicions that riots were likely in the event of an acquittal in the trial of the four officers that assaulted King: Powell, Stacey Koon, Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind.
If only Rodney King had followed police commands to stop resisting arrest.
On April 29, 1992, the acquittal in California v. Powell, et al. unleashed the rage of many in L.A. who believed justice would always remain out of reach. After six years, two trials and the horrific riots that shocked the nation, it is still difficult to understand why so much about the King incident went wrong.
Cannon spent over half a decade investigating the details of the King case (PHOTO: Steve Malone, Santa Barbara News--Press)
Lou Cannon covered the trials surrounding the King beating and the 1992 riots as Los Angeles bureau chief for the Washington Post. In an effort to provide clarity to this complex and muddied chain of events, he spent over five years writing "Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD." (Times Books)
While the King beating was tragic, he argues, it was just the trigger that released the rage of a community in economic strife and a police department in serious decline. If it hadn't been Rodney King, it might well have been something else that caused so much destruction and rage. And even today, the truth about King's case is far more elusive than it seemed at the time.
Court TV: There were two conflicting views of L.A. that you mention as portrayed in two reports -- "L.A. 2000" and "McCone Revisited." Both racially and economically, where did L.A. stand in the early 1990s?
Lou Cannon: The "McCone Revisited" report was for the 20-year anniversary of the Watts riots in 1985 [specifically, the report by former CIA director John McCone, who examined Watts' root causes] and "L.A. 2000" was a city report that had all the movers and shakers of the city. It painted a glowing picture and the other report painted a very dim one.
The truth is that by the early 90s the situation in L.A. was extremely grim and it was particularly grim in South Central. Factories had been disappearing from the city for a very long time, unemployment was very high, the city was suffering through its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, a lot of it caused by the virtual collapse of the aerospace industry after the end of the Cold War.
And there was a huge amount of friction between new immigrants, many of them from Central America, and some from Mexico and the older black population. there was also a lot of friction between Asians, particularly Koreans, and blacks.
The situation in South Central wasn't good. And I don't know how much this was recognized.
It wasn't just South Central. Along the aerospace coast, as people used to call it -- Manhattan Beach and other areas of Los Angeles -- things were also very hard. There was a climate of discontent and there was a lot of joblessness.
If George Holliday hadn't just bought a camcorder, if he hadn't been intrigued to tape the beating -- and if he hadn't been persistent in getting his tape to the media -- Rodney King might just have been another random incident in the LAPD files. Has there ever been an acknowledgement of just how coincidental the Rodney King case was?
I don't think it was just the Rodney King case that was the trigger for the terrible riots of 1992. I think these were preventable riots, had the police and the political leadership behaved correctly.
But there was this other case: the killing of Latasha Harlins, a black teenager, by a Korean grocer. The Korean grocer operated a store in the worst part of South Central.
The grocer thought she was shoplifting. She wasn't and a fight began and she knocked the grocer down and she was killed with a shot to the head.
Now that was a big story to black people in South Central and it was covered in the Los Angeles Times, the trial was, but the story really never had any national impact. There were an awful lot of events that could've been triggers for a riot and that served to remind black people that there wasn't much justice for them. The Latasha Harlins killing was on videotape. It was an in-store videotape and it was grainy and the police seized it so it wasn't shown over and over again.
The biggest thing about [the tape] is to me not that George Holliday took this picture of the police beating which was on his camcorder and the videotape that was edited. The biggest factor when you talk about the coincidence of it was that Mr. Holliday called the Foothill police station, from which these officers came.
I have never ever been able to find out what police officer answered the phone, nor has any police investigation found that out and I'm sure we will all go to our graves without knowing who answered the phone and in effect gave Holliday such a brush-off that he went down and took the tape to [Los Angeles television station] KTLA.
The truth of the matter about the Rodney King beating is that even though to most people it's symbolic of this police brutality, it is a very atypical incident.
Rodney King had done all of these things before the videotape. He'd resisted the officers, he'd charged the officers, he'd thrown four officers off his back, he'd been shot twice with a stun gun, which keeps most people down. 50,000 volts of electricity each time, it didn't keep him down. This was a case where a great effort was made to take Rodney King into custody without hurting him, believe it or not.
There are many other instances where people were injured or in some cases killed in encounters with police where shots were fired or the baton was used or other things were done with very little provocation.
If you look at what had happened in the years before the King incident, the number of lawsuits against the city was steadily mounting.
Most of these cases had been settled out of court because the city attorney would look at these cases and say, "Hey, if this goes to court there's going to be huge damages." So I think that had it not been Rodney King, there would've been some other incident that would have come along, and somebody else would have had a camcorder. And maybe it would have developed differently but we would have had some incident.
In the book you describe the King video as Rashomon: a story that has multiple sides and no single clear narrative. More specifically, there are segments of that tape that, though it was shown around the world, most people never saw. What was the significance of the omissions?
The videotape that was broadcast around the world and that most people have seen is 68 seconds in length.
The actual King incident is 81 seconds long. he took the tape to KTLA. after the police showed no interest. First, by the way, he called CNN and CNN at that time did not have any phone on in the middle of the night. They do have now, they've got round the clock service because of that incident. And then he called KTLA and he took it in. And the KTLA people gave the tape unedited to the police department because they wanted to make sure that it was authentic, and the police confirmed it. And then they put on in their newscast 68 seconds of this 81 seconds. The first 3 seconds are critical because they show Mr. King lunging in the direction of Officer Laurence Powell, who then responds with this baton blow.
Holliday moved his camera slightly after these first three seconds, trying to get a better look at what was going on. So the next 10 seconds are blurry. And what the television station did was just take out the first 13 seconds.
And in doing so sacrificed meaning to clarity, so the viewer just sees these police wailing away at King for apparently no reason.
The significance of these first three seconds are not that they make the videotape look nice.
It's brutal in any version, but the first three seconds that were omitted by the television station are a window into all of the things that have happened before the videotape begins. So what the viewer is seeing is a partial record of a partial record. [The King incident began with a 7.8 mile car chase conducted by California Highway Patrol officers, one of whom drew a gun on King before the LAPD took over.]
Had you written this for fiction, I have often said, no one would have accepted it because you would have been relying way too much on coincidence. Powell was a very poorly trained officer. He was also sort of a window into the lapses in training and the decline in professionalism of the LAPD He had, at roll call at Foothill station, been asked by total coincidence to demonstrate the use of the power stroke of the metal baton that the LAPD officers used...and he failed. He abysmally failed.
Everybody who I have ever talked to, no matter what their opinion is, who knows anything about police work said he was using this baton totally improperly, and had he known how to use it, you wouldn't have had a King case either, because he probably would have broken King's clavicle -- his collarbone -- with the very first blow, had it been delivered properly, and King would have gone down then.
The pairing of Powell and Officer Timothy Wind seems remarkably ironic: The trainer is himself badly trained and hard to control and the trainee is restrained and strives to adhere to department policy. How did these two end up together?
The state jury ultimately deadlocked on a charge against Laurence Powell, who maintained he acted within guidelines
Tim Wind, like many other officers in this country, had always wanted to go to work for the LAPD, which was considered...the best police force in the country. And Tim said, he wondered after all this had happened how the LAPD got to be on the top of the list, and he said kind of bitterly and facetiously, "Well, they drew up the list."
And there's some truth to that. The LAPD had promoted itself. It was once an extremely fine department that had deteriorated very badly, I think, in the last years under Daryl Gates.
Tim Wind had worked for a small department, the Shawnee, Kansas police department, for several years. And he had come to Los Angeles and the LAPD had no use for any of the training he had so it trained him all over again in its techniques.
Acquitted twice, Tim Wind has never recovered from the negative glare of the trials
Actually, he suffered more than Rodney King or Stacey Koon, who have a lot of money now -- King from his lawsuit against the city which was successful, Koon because he was helped by conservatives who support him. Wind, who was acquitted twice and found not liable for King's injuries by a civil jury, has had his life shattered. He can't get a decent job and has had a number of operations.
He knew how to use the baton and after Powell failed on the same roll call, [Wind] was called upon to demonstrate how to use the baton and he succeeded.
Powell should never have been sent out there that night after failing that test. He should have been given desk duty and retrained on the baton. But the LAPD was extremely short-handed. I mean, even today when they've added several thousand officers, they're still very, very small in relationship to the population and the size of the city they serve. They've always been the smallest.
It just didn't occur to them that they shouldn't have sent Powell out there, and it's interesting: No one has ever been criticized or reprimanded for doing that. The commander of the Foothill station got promoted. There were clear deficiencies that should have gone up the chain of command, probably all the way to Daryl Gates, and the people who were responsible for training Powell -- or not training him -- were never punished, reprimanded or even asked to explain their actions.
The road to Simi Valley, as it were, seemed to be paved with good intentions. How big of a misstep was Weisberg's change of venue and his blindness to demographics?
There are two steps that led to the change of venue. The first step was a decision of an appellate court in which the opinion was written by a judge named Joan Dempsey Klein.
There's no question her intentions were good but I think she was wrong. Her intentions were to get the thing out of Los Angeles because there was all this political furor over Chief Gates and Mayor Bradley and everybody was taking sides.
In the past, appellate courts had never never never moved cases like this. They didn't move the Manson murders. They took the position that you could always get a fair trial in Los Angeles because it was so vast and you could pick a representative jury. And they could have in this case.
She did say in her opinion that the case should be moved not only out of Los Angeles but out of the Los Angeles media market.
Weisberg maintains that his motive for moving the trial to Simi Valley wasn't personal
I agree with the people who think it was convenient [for Judge Weisberg to move the case to Simi Valley, though Weisberg personally denied to Cannon that this was so]. And he didn't move it out of the media market at all, he moved it to a location where, whatever his motivations, he could go home at night, and almost the only location he could have moved it to in which he would have been able to go home at night. And I think that he did that because he was convinced that it was a very open and shut case. He also had seen this partial videotape, as had everyone else. It wasn't just that ordinary people in the street in South Central were in the thrall of this videotape.
Simi Valley was one of the most pro-police communities in the world and moving it into Ventura County and holding the trial in Simi Valley meant that you were unlikely to have any blacks on the jury -- you had six blacks in the jury pool and five self-selected themselves off the jury by saying that they couldn't be fair about it. So in effect you were guaranteeing a jury with no black members and in a case that was very, very close.
Of all the negligence that I write about in this book, which is police negligence, political negligence by the city's leaders, media negligence, I think the greatest negligence was the negligence of the judiciary in moving this case, and it is interesting how many times the jurors have been criticized.
The jurors are not professionals. They're products of their life experiences. In Simi Valley, if you see police sirens, the chances are, you stop, and you don't understand why Rodney King didn't stop.
One member of that jury, he was a juror who was quite conservative, but he had many years before had an experience where he had been arrested in a case of mistaken identity -- he was really a teenager at the time -- and his attitudes were so pro-police that the prosecutor would have excused him if that trial had been in Los Angeles.
[Prosecutor Terry White] thought this guy might remember, and sure enough, this juror was one of four who held out for convicting Powell on a charge of using force under color of authority.
People have forgotten that the jury deadlocked on this charge, even in Simi Valley. He almost certainly would have been convicted had the trial been in Los Angeles.
The editing of the videotape was crucial in Simi Valley because the jurors there were very conservative and they were very suspicious of the media. They thought the media had not told them the full story of Rodney King.
If you've got evidence that's damaging to your side, you want to put it on before the other side does, so in the opening statement, here is the prosecutor, in his opening statement, showing the jurors the full videotape and saying they don't know the whole story. And I watched those jurors, I was in the courtroom, some of their jaws dropped and their disbelief was registered in the faces of some of them.
It's quite possible that they would have gotten Powell on that one charge on which they deadlocked had the prosecution not been hog-tied by the discrepancy between the two videotapes.
You describe an extra factor -- a "thirteenth juror" that motivated the federal jurors and may help explain the different verdict.
You have this terrible riot in which 54 people are killed and then during the middle of the riot you have the President of the United States, George Bush, saying, "This isn't over," setting in motion a federal trial on civil rights charges against the same four officers.
In this second trial, you're now holding the trial in the city in which 54 people have been killed.
The jurors are now sequestered. They were not sequestered in the first trial until the deliberations, but they are sequestered throughout the federal trial and they're right on the edge of the riot area. And every night, one of the jurors -- the foreman, actually -- would go up to the 10th floor. He'd come down and he'd tell the other jurors -- facetiously I'm sure -- but still it had an impact, "Well, South Central isn't burning yet."
Basically you were conducting the second trial in an atmosphere of fear, which I claim to be the "thirteenth juror." I don't blame these jurors, either. I think that the juries in both of these trials did their level best but that neither of these trials was held on a level playing field.
The first trial because you had a jury that had no blacks and was way over on the pro-police side, the second time because you had a jury that was multiracial but was inevitably influenced by fear.
All of these jurors will tell you they were not influenced by these considerations, that it didn't make any difference you didn't have any blacks in the first trial, that it didn't make any difference about the fear in the second trial, but it seems clear to me that anybody who examines what happened would arrive at a different conclusion.
It was much different holding it in Los Angeles after the riots than it would have been holding it in Los Angeles before them. So I think the results of both juries were skewed by the venues in which the trials were conducted.
Six years after the riots, are things at ground zero the same or different as they used to be? Do people in the community have a feeling that things are better now after this whole process happened?
I've gone back to the epicenter of the riots, which was at Florence and Normandie where Reginald Denny was pulled from his truck and beaten.
And by the way, I'm as critical of the use of that videotape as I am of the use of the Rodney King videotape because while it showed all the black assailants of these whites, Asians and Latinos, television wasn't able to show the rescues, which were mostly made by black civilians. Denny's life was saved by four of them.
I've talked to people in the streets at Florence and Normandie, where there is a new auto supply store on one of the corners and where you see houses in the area that are newly painted, and I talked to blacks who say that the LAPD had improved. They don't say that it's perfect.
Black males tend to be treated with suspicion and hassled more. But there was a feeling among the people I've talked to, and I've talked to people of all races and stations in life, that things are better than they were, although they don't say they're wonderful. A lot of people don't realize that the place where the riots erupted, the area of Florence and Normandie -- and there's an adjacent area called Hyde Park -- those are two of the better census tracts in terms of income in South Central. Welfare rates are lower there than they are in many parts of South Central, for instance where Latasha Harlins was killed.
Times are better now in Los Angeles and one of the phenomena that is changing this situation in Los Angeles, where both the government and corporate America promised to do all this rebuilding and both sides essentially broke their promise. But you're seeing all this small business, a lot of it started by these new immigrants who are so often demonized. South Central is one of the few inner cities of America where the gross economic product is increasing and where crime rates are down.
But I don't want to overstate it. There are still a lot of problems and the biggest problem as Mayor Riordan has said is education, that the South Central schools are not doing an adequate job. There are a lot of young people who are not learning to read and there are still serious problems.
After revisiting this entire story and its aftermath in detail, do you think Angelenos learned any lessons from Rodney King? Do you think that the way the city now is in some ways a product of it?
I think that lessons were learned. I become emotional sometimes when I think about the riots.
I think that those lessons could have been learned without 54 people killed and 800 buildings burned to the ground. But the police procedures changed mightily as a result of what happened. Whether they would have changed just because of the Rodney King beating and the retirement of Chief Gates and the Christopher Commission that investigated it, I don't know. But the officers stopped using their batons.
The city council finally gave the LAPD pepper spray, which it should have given them long before, and so they had an alternative way to subdue resisting suspects. Police training changed.
They have more advanced martial arts techniques. Diversity training, which the police had had for a long time, improved.
After Mayor Bradley did not run for a fifth term Richard Riordan was elected on a pledge to add three thousand new officers. He added slightly more than two thousand. And the city embarked on community policing, which it had shunned in the past.
Now the LAPD has a chief, Bernard Parks, who is both an African-American and a veteran of the LAPD and he's respected and he's very, very tough. And I've seen what he tells the new recruits. I attended a graduation ceremony recently and he tells them that they've got to have a reverence for law as well as a badge and a gun, so I think the attitude of the LAPD has changed.
I think the attitude of the city has changed, too.
I think that Angelenos face up to questions more than they did in the past. There's more open discussion. Mayor Riordan recently named a man named Joe Hicks, who was the black leader in the black-Korean alliance that was destroyed by the riots, head of the city human relations commission, which has been a rather moribund group. I think under Mr. Hicks, who is very able, it will become an active group.
I also think that the media has at least for now been more responsible and attentive. I still wish they'd write more about South Central but they cover it more than they used to.
Anyway, I do believe that people in Los Angeles are more realistic and more forward-looking and more willing to address their problems than they were before and I'm very optimistic about the city. I think that it is a world city with patterns of diversity that you find in very, very few places. It's the way the United States is going to look somewhere in the middle of the next century, and I think we're a better place than we were before the King case and the riots.
April 28, 1998