Twenty years ago, Rodney King was involved in a high speed police chase that resulted in him being beaten to an almost unrecognizable lump of bruises by pack of several Los Angeles police officers. The entire beating was caught on tape and sparked race riots in L.A.
Now, King is reminded of the ordeal he faced on the fateful night on the Foothill Freeway through Trayvon Martin’s tragic murder. Although I can understand the comparisons in certain aspects of both cases, Trayvon’s death doesn’t compare to the beating King received in 1992.
King released a statement by way of his publicist, “The horrifying sound of a young black male screaming for his life on a 911 call reminded me of my horrifying scream on a videotape 20 years ago.”
Here’s three reasons Rodney King’s incident doesn’t compare to Trayvon Martin’s murder. (And this is not to downplay what King went through, simply disproving the comparison.)
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1. King was in the car with two friends when he was pulled over. The two friends were taken into custody immediately because they complied with the officer’s demands to get out of the car. King didn’t. He stayed in the car, afraid that being charged with a DUI (because he was intoxicated and under the influence), which in turn would violate his parole from a previous robbery conviction. Having a record doesn’t make King a bad person, but he was refusing to pull over, reaching speeds up to 90 MPH, which caused the police some suspicions. No, they shouldn’t have beaten him the way they did, but they did think that once King got out of the car, reaching for his back pockets that he was a threat.
Trayvon was only thought to be a threat by Zimmerman only, who pursued Martin with a gun. Zimmerman labeled Martin suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie. King was suspicious because he was resisting arrest after driving over 90 MPH.
2. Trayvon Martin was actually innocent. The 17-year-old was just walking from the store, Arizona tea and Skittles in hand when he was gunned down. Rodney King was trying to get away from the cops so that he wouldn’t violate his parole. See the difference there?
3. Trayvon Martin was shot by someone acting as an unofficial neighborhood watchman. Rodney King was not shot. He was tasered and beaten, but not shot…to death.
Do you think that Rodney King’s beating compares to Trayvon Martin’s death? Let’s discuss on Twitter @Rhapsodani.