Rodney King

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There are occasional publicized reports on police brutality, but it is far more common in our society than we are made to believe. Police brutality has been an issue for many years, and it remains a major concern for those of the minority community. These minorities have been subjected, for many decades, to violence by those in law enforcement in the United States. More often than not, racial profiling is a driving factor in police brutality. The issue of police brutality is not a new one; it has become more focused on in recent years due to certain cases that have proved to be of extreme violence and have been linked to racial profiling, such as the beating of Rodney King. The incident that had happened to Rodney King is a tragic one, but one that accurately reflects what the police force is capable of doing: wrongly deciding to commit a heinous crime based upon racial reasons influenced by our society’s media, an especially notable misinterpretation of the situation at hand for something relatively more sexual than intended, and based on the grounds that these authoritative figures are given liberty to do as they please by their domineering allies who, in hopes of preserving their power and social standing, are always only looking out for themselves by any means necessary.

Rodney King was born in Sacramento, California, but was raised in Pasadena, California by his mother and alcoholic father. Two years prior to the beating, King had robbed a store and was convicted and sentenced to two years of imprisonment. On the night of March 2, 1991, King and his two friends had just spent the night watching basketball and drinking at a friend’s house. A blood alcohol test taken more than five hours after King’s arrest showed a level of 0.079 percent, just below the 0.08 percent blood-alcohol level that in California is presumptive evidence of intoxication. Extrapolating from this figure, state prosecutors and defense attorneys stipulated that King’s blood-alcohol level at the time of arrest had been 0.19 percent, nearly two and a half times the legal limit. ...According to King’s own statements, he refused to pull the car over because a DUI would violate his parole for the previously noted robbery conviction. (Cannon 39, 45) While driving intoxicated on Interstate 210, King was seen speeding by California Highway Patrol. From this, a ten-minute high speed car chase ensued, resulting in several police cars cornering King’s.

After successfully pulling over the speeding vehicle, two officers ordered King’s two passengers to exit the vehicle and lie face down on the ground, both of whom complied and were taken into custody without incident. However, King did not initially comply, and when he finally followed orders to step out of his car, he was behaving abnormally. The following scenario resulting from his bizarre actions is significant to the argument that King had been beaten due to racial reasons and is critical as to why supervising Sergeant Stacey Koon took control of King’s arrest. Allegedly, King put his hands on the roof of the car, looked up at the helicopter, waved, and did a little dance. However, he continued the dance in a more inappropriate and provocative manner toward one particular female officer, Melanie Singer. According to officer reports to a grand jury: King put his hands on his buttocks, briefly causing Melanie Singer and other officers to wonder if he were reaching for a gun. He then shook his buttocks at Singer, an action later described by Koon in this way: “He grabbed his buttocks with both hands and began to shake and gyrate his fanny in a sexually suggestive fashion. As King sexually gyrated, a mixture of fear and offense overcame Melanie. The fear was of a Mandingo sexual encounter.” (Cannon 27) The term “Mandingo” describes a defiant gesture in which the black man asserts his masculinity over a White woman in a White-dominated world. It derives from the popular...
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