By Matt Mitchell, Katie Erber, Justin Skiver, Tommy Finn


On March 3, 1991 Rodney King was driving with two friends on a highway in Los Angeles, CA as he was detected speeding. A police was attempting to pull him over, but he was resisting it and kept on going faster; later, it was determined that he did this because he was afraid they would use the speeding fine he would recieve to revoke his probation for a robbery offense. The high-speed chase eventually hit 115 MPH, police reported. When he was caught, a few L.A.P.D. cars had already arrived on the scene. He tried to escape the policemen and they took it as an attempt to resist arrest, so they took the chance to severely beat him. They fired two taser shots into him and beat him brutally with their batons. This entire incident was filmed by George Holliday, who soon sold it to a television news company. The video's effects were massive, and people all around the United States were outraged, especially in the already racial-tense Los Angeles in California (Gray).

The public was extremely mad about what happened with Rodney King and the police, and as you would guess, they wanted a punishment for the police who were responsible for putting King in such a severe condition. On March 15, the court case came where the police would be given their verdict: all of them were innocent (Gray). Also the officers were charged for assault with deadly weapon and excessive use of force. Even though one officer did not actively participate in the beating. However, the jury was all white and so it enraged the African American community even more, as a very partial verdict was given. People in Los Angeles were the worst off. Because the incident happened in their area and they knew the best about what happened, they were the most angry. Also, before the incident happened, there were already racial tensions but the incident caused a sudden release of that tension with violence (Daniel). Some people started marching on the streets with minimal violence, but it soon turned to looting and throwing rocks through windows. Many people started fires as well. Thousands of buildings were burnt to the ground. People started pulling white men from their cars and beating them the same way King was beaten. One specific and famous example of this happened on the first day that the rioting had started. Black men pulled a white truck driver, Reginald Denny, from his car and started brutally beating him (Los Angeles Riot Still Echoes). Crowds started to form, and rioting ensued. This rioting lasted four days, and during those days...

  • The Los Angeles Police Department did not show up at all for the first day (Kellen).
  • People in the streets were throwing rocks, shooting guns, and pulling people from vehicles and beating them
  • Rodney King, the man who had been severely beaten, was quoted saying "People . . . can't we all just get along?" (Kellen).
  • 2,000 National Guardsmen were called in, along with 10,000 police and other government agents (Kellen).
  • One rioter was quoted saying "We are going to tear this motherf***er down right here! That building's gonna come down!" (Los Angeles Riot Still Echoes). As you can see from this quote, the rioters didn't really seem to realize what they were even doing. They had no care at all for what was happening around them. They basically became incoherent with rage.
  • Not all citizens participated on the riots. For example: Cecil Murray was a priest in a South Central church. Many of the church's members gathered during the riots and prayed for them to end. Murray, when talking about a fire burning residential buildings, said, "This child was looking back to his residence, the mother was weeping and the father was shaking his head, asking, 'How could this be? How could this be?' " (Los Angeles Riot Still Echoes).

What eventually ended the riot was the incoming National Guardsmen, who were able to calm the crowds. All in all, 6,559 people were arrested (DiPasquele), 58 killed, and 3,800 of the 10,000 buildings damaged were destroyed causing an estimated $1 billion in property damage. Today, historians have been able to determine that this riot was the "worst single episode of civil unrest in American history." This event marked an important time in the later part of the civil rights movement of America, as people were starting to no longer be willing to just give in to the injustices they received just because of their gender or color of their skin. Overall, the event was a massive and catastrophic event that put the city of Los Angeles into ruin and a need for a big change.

Source Annotation

"Riot Erupts in Los Angeles." Web. May 11, 2011. -Matt

Summary: is a well known website to me, and it has a lot of text information, including a big picture and a lot of small details.

Assess: The information matches most of the other information that I have found on other website and in books so it seems correct. There is a lot of detail and the website is very thorough.

Reflect: I can use this information for a lot of different things, and especially for writing an overview or summary of the riots.

Lorimer, Lawrence T. The American Annual 1992. Grolier. 1992. Print. -Matt

Summary: It is a small section of a book that contains just about everything that happened in 1992 in America's history. Although the article about the riot was short, it provided thorough details and included a lot of information crucial to the Los Angeles Riots.

Assess: There is a lot of good information in article, and it contains all of the "fine print" involving the riot.

Reflect: I will be able to use the information from the book to confirm a lot of what i got from the websites, and to fill in a few of the blank areas that the websites I found did not cover.

Gray, Madison. "The L.A. Riots: 15 Years After Rodney King." 2003. Web. May 11, 2011. -Matt

Summary: An article in a popular news site, Time. The article has tons of information about the incident of Rodney King, which started the riot.

Assess: It has a lot of information that will be very useful in writing about how the riots started, and seems to be a really good source.

Reflect: I can use this for a lot of information regarding the beginning of the riots.

Daniel, Clifton. 20th Century Day by Day. Dorling Kindersley Books. Germany. 2000. Print. -Matt

Summary: This is a huge book that contained information about basically all the main events that happened during the 20th Century. There was a fairly large article about the L.A. Riots, and it was the main entry for the day April 29.

Assess: the book covers a massive area in the history of our nation and world, so the information might not all be the best and most accurate because of the wide focus of the book, but it has a lot of details that many other sources did not have.

Reflect: This book will help me a lot in providing different details about the Rodney King incident and the riots themselves. I got an entire page of notes from the article, and i can use it to type up different paragraphs.

Kellen, Stuart. A Cultural History of the United States Through the Decades: the 1990's

Summary: This book provided a couple of pages on the L.A. Riots, and a couple more on what started it all: the Rodney King trial. It gives a great overall look at the riots, providing a lot of the important details. There are a couple of good first hand quotes in the text, which helped to tell what it was really like. It also had a couple of good pictures.

Assessment: The information has a really good balance of not going into the details too much and not going enough. It tells you what caused the riots, what happened during them, the aftermath, and throughout it all the book gives the important facts from these things. Overall I think this is a very useful source that gave me a lot of information that I needed.

Reflection: I can use this source for providing a decently thorough description of the L.A. riots. There are some blanks that will need to be filled in by other sources, but this really helped with the general description of the riots.

"Los Angeles Riots, 1992." University of Southern California. Web. 10 May 2011.

Summary - Gave information on the Rodney King beating in 1992.

Assess - The information was good. Gave good information on what he was being convicted of.

Reflect - If you were doing a report or paper on Rodney King, this would be a good cite to use.

"RODNEY KING - The L.A. Riots: 15 years After Rodney King - TIME." Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos,

Video, Tech Reviews - Web. 10 May 2011.

Summary - Gave information on Rodney King and his multiple offense.

Assess - Information is good. Gave clear explanation for what happened.

Reflection - This would be good if you wanted to know more about how it happened.

Crogan, Jim. "The L.A. 53." 24 Apr. 2002. Web. 10 May 2011.

Summary - Gave statistics. Such as number of deaths during the riots and information like that.

Assess - It's good thorough information because, it gives close estamites on deaths.

Reflection - This would be good source if you needed to know more statistical things.

La Riots 1992. U.S.C libraries

Summary- Gave information about what happened and how the riots started by the verdicts of the police who beat Rodney King.

Assess- Good information about how the riot started.

Reflection- Good source for getting to know how things got started.

This day in history April 29.

Summary- Tells what the police were charged with and what the verdict said, also what the president did to stop the rioting.

Assess- Okay information on the riots could of been more useful.

Reflection- Okay source could of gathered more on what the site said but wasn't much there that i thought was important.

Kallen A. Stuart The 1990's

Summary- told statistics about the death toll and how many buildings were set on fire and some of the targeted people.

Assess- Good book for what happened throughout the 1990's.

Reflection- Pretty good source could of told a little bit more about the riot not who the targeted victims were.

Denise DiPasquale. The Los Angeles Riot and the Economics of Urban Unrest. University of Chicago, November 1996. Web. 21 May, 2011.

Summary- This source gives a lot of the facts of the L.A. riots. It's mostly just the numbers; for example it talks about how many were killed, how many injured, buildings that were destroyed, the types of buildings destroyed (commercial vs. residential), etc. There's not really any description of the riots. There was nothing about the sights and sounds of the L.A. riots.

Assessment- If I use this source I would basically only have to use the first section because the rest doesn't give me any information that I need. I also don't know if the source contains good information. The reason I say this is because it will give one statistic for a certain topic, then later give a different number. The numbers are close, but it still makes it seem like whoever wrote it didn't know what they were talking about.

Reflection- I'm a little reluctant to use the source because of the conflicting numbers, but it does give a lot of good facts. It would be nice, however, to get more physical description of the riots.

“Los Angeles Riot Still Echoes a Decade Later.” CNN, 28 Apr. 2002. Web. 24 May, 2011.
Summary- This source gave a couple of quick facts and a short background of the riots, but what I would use it for were the quotes in it. This article had first-hand accounts of the riots which always help you to understand what really happened. It gives several different perspectives as well. For example there's a quote from a LAPD sgt., a quote from someone who participated in the rioting, and even a quote from a civilian who didn't participate in the rioting at all.

Assessment- I wouldn't use this site for the information given at the beginning of it because that just tells me what I already know. The quotes, however, would be very helpful in creating the wiki. It would help to give more than just the black-and-white facts of what happened during the LA Riots.

Reflection- I think that this source is a very good one to use. Not only is it probably credible because it's not made by some random person, but it would also really help describe what it was actually like to be in Los Angeles during the riots.

Reflections and Conclusions

I feel that this event was a very large scale and extremely violent and dangerous riot that should have never happened. Although the police officers who were involved in the Rodney King incident were wrong in beating King so severely, they, according to multiple sources, had the right to do so as King was trying to outrun the police and avoid a law violation fine. Then after he was caught, he was still fighting and trying to get away. So, in a way the police officers had the right to use force to stop him; but, not as excessive force as they used. Then, when the jury in the court case said that all the police officers were innocent of beating King too much, people got too mad about it as the police did have the right to use force when necessary. I feel that the people of Los Angeles should not have been so mad about the verdicts given and should have noticed that the officers were just trying to protect themselves.

Although I agree that the citizens of L.A. shouldn't have reacted the way they did, Rodney King was beaten MUCH more than he should have been, not just a little. Although he did deserve punishment (he was a convicted criminal) the police can't decide that they would punish him by severely beating him. What they did definetely wasn't just in self defense. Multiple officers were mercilessly beating him with batons. MULTIPLE tasers were shot at him, when just one taser is enough to knock somebody down. The people of L.A. should have expressed their anger in the not guilty verdict in a different way, but I think it was justified to be as angry as they were.

This is true, but also the beating accounts are not all the same, so we cannot be sure of what exactly happened. That is one thing that is hard to understand; the actual severity that King was put into, as when news gets spread about it often times grows and grows to the point where it can be a large exaggeration. From this picture and the video below I have a better understanding of what you are saying, but I also believe that if a high-speed police chase ended with a fight from the suspect, you as a police man would start to feel a little nervous that the suspect was dangerous. The beating was excessive, but they had to do their job and protect themselves. Also, I feel that the news television broadcasters often want to get a reaction out of the public and so they are very selective about what they broadcast, so maybe they just didn't want people to see him fighting.



How severe was the damage after the riots? Take a look at the first couple minutes of the video to see.

^At the beginning of this video it shows the video of Rodney King being beaten. As you can see he was not a threat to the cops at all, and the cops were not acting in self defense. The rest of the video shows the actual rioting.

Talks about how the riots started and pictures and videos during that time

Works Cited

Crogan, Jim. "The L.A. 53." 24 Apr. 2002. Web. 10 May 2011.

Daniel, Clifton. 20th Century Day by Day.Dorling Kindersley Books. Germany. 2000. Print

Delk, James D. Fires & Furies: The Los Angeles Riots of 1992. Palm Springs: ETC Publications, 1995.
Denise DiPasquale. The Los Angeles Riot and the Economics of Urban Unrest. University of Chicago, November 1996. Web. 21 May, 2011.

Gray, Madison. "The L.A. Riots: 15 Years After Rodney King." Web. May 11, 2011.

Lorimer, Lawrence T. The American Annual 1992.Grolier. 1992. Print.

"Los Angeles Riots, 1992." University of Southern California. Web. 10 May 2011.
"Riot Erupts in Los Angeles." May 11, 2011.

"The 1990's" Kallen A. Stuart. Going through the century The 1990's.

Video, Tech Reviews - Web. 10 May 2011.
Wood, Daniel B. "L.A.'s Darkest Days." The Christian Science Monitor - 29 Apr. 2002. Web. 12 May 2011.

Kellen, Stuart. A Cultural History of the United States Through the Decades: the 1990's“Los Angeles Riot Still Echoes a Decade Later.” CNN, 28 Apr. 2002. Web. 24 May, 2011.

Tag098. 22 Jan, 2009. Web. 21 May, 2011.