Just his name alone evokes the painful reminder that the American criminal justice system is often stacked against African-Americans. On March 3, 1991, after a high speed car chase in Los Angeles, Rodney King was beaten within inches of his life by several members of the LAPD. A witness, George Holliday, videotaped a good deal of the assault from his balcony, confirming what many Blacks and other Americans felt was excessive force by police. The footage went "viral" before the Internet even existed.
African-Americans knew that the five White officers involved were going to do some serious time.
Except they didn't.
Four officers were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. Three were acquitted of all charges. The jury acquitted the fourth of assault with a deadly weapon, but failed to reach a verdict on the use of excessive force. The jury deadlocked at 8–4 in favor of an acquittal.
After the acquittals, the cops walked free, and what became known as the 1992 L.A. Riots (many said "uprisings") commenced. Over 50 people were killed and over 2,000 were injured. King's famous refrain, "Can't we all get along?," fell on deaf ears.