Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Another Rodney King? Not This Time

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Another Rodney King? Not This Time

Article excerpt

The similarities between the beatings of Rodney King and Donovan Jackson are obvious. Both are black males. Both were stopped in their vehicles by police.

In 1991, Mr. King was pummeled by white Los Angeles police officers even after he appeared to stop resisting. Other officers did nothing. The King beating was captured on video and ignited national rage.

Mr. Jackson, who is 16, was punched and slammed on July 6 by a white police officer in Inglewood, Calif., after he appeared to stop resisting. Other officers did little. The Jackson beating has ignited protests and demands for a Justice Department probe.

But that's where the similarities end. After the King beating, then-LAPD chief Daryl Gates initially stonewalled. He claimed it was an aberration and that the LAPD was not racist or brutal. But it was easy for Mr. Gates to try to weasel out of harm's way. He had incurred the wrath of blacks for a string of shoot-from-the-lip remarks bordering on racism.

The LAPD was notorious among blacks as racist, seeming to operate as an occupying army in black neighborhoods while the top brass and compliant city officials winked. LA ultimately paid the price. Following the acquittal of the officers in the King beating, the city exploded in violence.

A decade later, LA is still paying. The Justice Department last year issued a sweeping consent decree mandating that the LAPD end alleged racial profiling, develop firm standards for punishing excessive force violations, and take more proactive steps to improve minority-community relations.

In the Jackson case, there was no Gates to fan racial flames and blame the victim. Inglewood's police chief and mayor, who are African-American, instantly branded the beating "disturbing." The mayor promised a full investigation and demanded that the officer be prosecuted if any criminal conduct is found. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.