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Chauvin Trial: A Look Back At 1992 LA And America Since Rodney King

Flames roar from a Thrifty Drug store in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles, 29 April 1992. Riots broke out in Los Angeles, 29 April 1992, after a jury acquitted four police officers accused of beating a black youth, Rodney King, in 1991, hours after the verdict was announced.        (Mike Nelson/AFP via Getty Images)
Flames roar from a Thrifty Drug store in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles, 29 April 1992. Riots broke out in Los Angeles, 29 April 1992, after a jury acquitted four police officers accused of beating a black youth, Rodney King, in 1991, hours after the verdict was announced. (Mike Nelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Listener advisory: This hour contains explicit language. When quoting language used by police officers assaulting Rodney King in 1991, a guest uses a racial slur. The word is stated as a quote and occurs in context between 00:34:25 and 00:34:49. The word is uttered by John Burris who represented Rodney King in his civil lawsuit against LAPD in 1994. 


Almost 30 years ago, four Los Angeles police officers went on trial for brutally beating a man named Rodney King. Now in Minneapolis, a different trial, a similar defense. From LA in ’92 to Minneapolis today, what has and hasn’t changed in America?

Guests

John Burris, civil rights attorney who represented Rodney King in his civil lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department in 1994.

Vaughn Dickerson, co-founder of 88 C.H.U.M.P., a nonprofit social activism organization. He grew up with George Floyd in Houston.

Also Featured

Lora King, Rodney King’s daughter and CEO of the Rodney King Foundation. (@RodneyKingFDN)

Reading List

Associated Press: “Chauvin skips testifying as trial in Floyd death nears end” — “Former Officer Derek Chauvin ’s trial in George Floyd’s death will be in a jury’s hands by early next week, after his brief defense wrapped up with Chauvin passing on a chance to take the stand and tell the public for the first time what he was thinking when he pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck.”

Chicago Tribune: “In several fateful seconds, video appears to show 13-year-old Adam Toledo toss gun, turn with empty hands raised before Chicago cop fires fatal shot (warning: graphic content)” — “It happened in seconds: the pause in a dark Little Village alley, the officer’s shot fired, the 13-year-old crumpling to the ground.”

Associated Press: “Wright family demands more severe charges for Minn. ex-cop” — “Daunte Wright’s family joined community leaders in demanding more severe charges against the white former police officer who fatally shot the young Black man in a Minneapolis suburb, where hundreds of protesters again filled the streets in front of the police station.”

Star Tribune: “30 years after Rodney King, friends of George Floyd see parallels in upcoming Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis” — “George Floyd and his childhood friends spoke of the video with astonishment.”

USA Today: “Derek Chauvin trial in George Floyd death compared to Rodney King case 30 years later” — “Four white police officers surround a Black man as he is harmed. An amateur video is shot of the encounter. The footage goes viral, prompting massive unrest and calls for social reforms.”

Vox: “Why the Chauvin trial feels so momentous” — “If the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, feels momentous, it’s because it is.”

LA Times: “LAPD faces ‘post-Rodney King environment’ as scrutiny over George Floyd protests builds” — “A damning report released this week rebuking the Los Angeles Police Department for a cascade of missteps during last summer’s mass protests against police abuses was far from the last word on the department’s failures.”

CNN: “Opinion: The Derek Chauvin trial is a chance to tell a different story” — “The Derek Chauvin trial is technically the second trial in my lifetime to be at once ubiquitous and hugely consequential. I was a newborn during the first.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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