“Can’t We All Just Get Along?”…25 Years Later

While watching one of my favorite shows, Bates Motel, a commercial for an upcoming documentary was played. This documentary was done to recap the events that surrounded the beating of Rodney King. The 2-hour documentary aired on A&E. I have seen the footage and other documentaries that detail the events of March 3, 1991, but this documentary was a bit different. This documentary not only focused on Rodney King, but also other individuals who were affected by the beating and the aftermath of the beating.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Rodney King was an African-American male, beaten by the police. His beating was caught on tape, yet the police officers were acquitted. Sound familiar?  Watching the clips from the beating were highly disturbing and evoked so many emotions. The events that followed the verdict made history. People of all races banned together and showed their frustration with the 1992 LA Riots, from April 29, 1992 – May 4, 1992. During the riots there was looting, gun fights, fighting, and burning of the city. Los Angeles became an all out war zone. People showed their frustration by destruction.

There is an episode of A Different World: Honey Moon in LA, in which Whitley and Dwayne are swept up in the madness of the verdict. Although, they add a bit of a comedic factor to the events, they also show the fear and danger that was highly prevalent at that time in all people. The riots resulted in numerous injuries, arrests, and deaths. Store owners lost their business due to the burnings, many people lost their vehicles.

But these possessions are nothing compared to what Rodney King lost. Even though the officers were then taken through a civil trial and King was awarded millions, the damage was done. He suffered some irreversible damage due to the beating.  His famous saying “Can’t we all just get along?” was recorded to act as a way to calm the anger that the people were feeling. He died an untimely death in 2012. His autopsy revealed numerous drugs in his system. That alone really makes me wonder had he not suffered these extremely traumatic events, would he still be here today? He struggled with nightmares of the beating well after it happened. He like many never fully recovered from the riots, and the effects of the police brutality.

After watching the documentary, I could do nothing but compare the past situation to our current events. The images of the riot reminded me of the images from the Ferguson 2014 riots. It seems we are watching the same tragic story over and over agin with the same ending. We have seen this with victims such as Mike Brown, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and so many more. It’s up to us to not only keep these names alive, but to teach the coming generations of the injustices and continue to fight for the justice we deserve.

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