Rodney King: from Rebellion to Redemption

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rodney King talks about what happened the night of March 3, 1991, when he was beaten and tasered by L.A. police officers—an incident caught on videotape, sparking national outrage. When the four police officers were acquitted 13 months later, riots broke out in Los Angeles. In The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption, King writes about his struggle with alcohol addiction and coming to terms with the incident that made him a household name and caused him emotional and physical damage. He’s joined by his fiancée, Cynthia Kelley, who was one of the jurors from his civil trial against the city of Los Angeles.


Rodney King

Comments [21]


Leo from Queens: Excellent point, Lew. And, for that matter, why should I or anyone else who doesn't believe that recreational drugs should be illegal be forced to pay the billions of dollars a year spent on apprehension, trials, and incarceration of people who we do not feel are breaking a legitimate law?

Or for those phony wars on "terror" and drone bombings of innocent civilians in Asia that we are forced to pay for under both a Republican and Democratic president?

Or the corporate welfare bailouts of failed banks and car companies?

But without government, there would be "anarchy"—or so we're taught to believe in our government-controlled public schools.

Apr. 25 2012 05:00 PM

Thanks Leonard and Co for hosting Mr. King and his fiancee.

Apr. 25 2012 12:48 PM
April from Manhattan

Could Leonard use the word "racism" or "racist" in reference to racism outside the South. The Times can't. Will Leonard wax cover Attica, where many men were killed for trying to be paid for work = slavery. And riots in Harlem, Detroit, the most segregated city in the country, next being Milwaukee, then New York. Check out the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Map. California has no pride of place for most Hate Groups. New Jersey is a snarl of hate. Upper NY State. There is more KKK in upper MIchigan than other states. If you compare it with the NY Times' "Geography of Hate", of hate, there's a similarity, though the whole country isn't included. New York used to be integrated. The Yupper West side, where I live, was integrated. Now Harlem is majority white and hispanic. Though I protested, sat in, along with white Southerners from all over the South, including Mississippi and Alabama, and picketed a segregated motel at age 18 alone, was spat at, cursed, things thrown, for integration, I feel bad about Harlem, the spiritual home of African America. African Americans have created more musical forms than any country in history. A comic whose name I've forgotten includes Country music, as "the blues minus slavery", not to mention slang. Will Brian or Leonard, the NY Times use "racist" in relation to NYC cops. Some WNYC talk show hosts seem to condone stop and frisk since Bloomberg says it stops crime. A " furtive movement" according to two white cops I asked would be a man standing in a doorway in my "good neighborhood", i.e. white, looking side to side. The man would be black or hispanic. Imagine if Giuliani had been mayor of Atlanta. How would you describe his killing an unarmed African American or African every few weeks. It would be interesting for reporters to be given info with locations hidden. The Civil War is over. We all won. Enough already. Leonard, do you still think, as you once said, "Not all Southerners are racist. Just most of them"? Will you ever cover white Southerners in the civil rights movement before we all die? I'm not holding my breath. Feel free to interview me. You could delete the parts you don't like.

Apr. 25 2012 12:46 PM
William from Manhattan

I can't believe some of these comments. Listen to the man - he's the real deal. Cynthia Kelley sounds pretty terrific too.

Apr. 25 2012 12:36 PM

ANy idea how Reginal DEnny is doing Rodney? How much did he get in his settlement?

Apr. 25 2012 12:36 PM
WNYC Listener from New York

Is Mr. King aware that he and his incident are mentioned in an Italian hip hop song? It's libere di sangue by Frankie HiNRG. I was so surprised to hear the situation mentioned in Italian.

Apr. 25 2012 12:33 PM
bob from ny

Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas beating by "border control" police

Apr. 25 2012 12:33 PM
Listener from NYC

Would love to hear Rodney's thoughts on the death of undocumented immigrant Anastacio Hernandez-Rojas at the hands of border agents in California.

Apr. 25 2012 12:29 PM


LA Police had a long, long history of routinely beating people, white and black, stretching all the way back to the Chandlers' LA Times and the Wobblies.

I grew up in LA in the 60s, saw a lot of stuff, and always considered myself lucky that I never personally got beaten by the police.

I had 3 advantages:

1. I was unreasonably lucky.

2. I was white.

3. I was friends with the daughters of one of the true good-guys in the police force, the great Harvey Dunn. Dropping his well-respected name saved me a couple of times.

But knowing what could easily have happened, and what the culture was, I always wondered, geez, what if I were black . . .

Apr. 25 2012 12:28 PM
Leo from Queens

John From Office: I guess N**ers and SP**cs just need to take abuse and beatings by Police officers whose salaries are paid by the taxpayer and just keep quiet..

You would think that if you could care less about other human beings, that at least taxpayers would consider the money paid out by taxpayers for lawsuits to realize the cops feel they can do this because they are immnute and have no accountability. There is no accountability for police officer and politicians to correct this because the costs are passed on to Taxpayers.
Have you asked how many hundreds of millions of dollars we New Yorkers have to pay out because of willful police abouse every year? Again, I'm ignoring the damange to human beings and families since people of color don't count for people like you, which seems to be the majority

Apr. 25 2012 12:23 PM
Mind Your Sources

@Bob: It's Wikipedia. Anyone can anonymously write or edit anything in those articles. I wouldn't cite or rely on that as a source.

Apr. 25 2012 12:21 PM
dianne Johnson from Cold Spring, NY

I remember hearing Rodney King speak on TV the first time they broadcast it. His full speech was very emotional, moving, and included the words "some of those people out there aren't ever goin' home again:." On later broadcasts, CNN deleted the first part of the speech and had a newscaster summarize what he said, which I felt was a huge mistake. I wrote a letter to the Times about it, but they didn't publish it.

Apr. 25 2012 12:20 PM
john from office

I thought the trial on this matter was held already??

Apr. 25 2012 12:16 PM

He is straight up lying, Why are you falling for this?

Damn it Leonard, ask him why he was about driving drunk that night.

Apr. 25 2012 12:16 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

What great courage of heart this gentleman has. What courageousness & nobility he showed when he pleaded with the nation "Can we all get along?", after his horrific experience with the police.

His example is true heroism and should be an example of redemption to all.

Apr. 25 2012 12:15 PM
Farrish from Seattle

Please ask Mr King his thoughts on the movement to make photographing on-duty police officers illegal?

Apr. 25 2012 12:12 PM
Leo from Queens

Can you ask if the book covers the fact that the so-called 'Rodney King Riots' were really a culmination of many many cases of abuse and injustice by the LAPD and that this was the last straw in which people erupted in violence when there was videotape evidence of abuse.

Prior to the beating of Rodney King there were several innocent people of color brutally killed by the LAPD gang.

And can we talk about why the media doesn't refer to this tragedy as the LAPD Abuse riots!?

Apr. 25 2012 12:09 PM
Anthony K. from City of Angels, CA

Can you ask him why he didn't just pull over?

Apr. 25 2012 12:04 PM
Rosa from White Plains

I am happy that you are getting your life together. Baby, do not ever be afraid to ask for help because the demons will always be there. Never give up, never surrender.

Apr. 25 2012 10:54 AM

Would not Mr. King agree that the limelight he had received as the result of the police beating was the best thing that happened to him?

How much of the book is his and how much is of Lawrence J. Spagnola?

Are they trying to capitalise now on Trayvon Martin case?

Are there any efforts now to bring persons like Rodney King - "why don't we all get along?" - in order to calm things down in view of media stirred up racial tensions and recent beating of a white man by a black mob in Alabama in "justice for Trayvon" case?

Apr. 25 2012 10:34 AM

So glad to hear you're happy and healthy, Rodney.

Apr. 25 2012 10:21 AM

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