• On April 29, 1992, a jury acquitted four Los Angeles, California, police officers of using excessive force in their beating of motorist Rodney King. A bystander had secretly videotaped the beating, and by the time of the verdict, thousands of people had watched the uniformed officers use batons to subdue King, who was crawling on the ground. 
     
    Footage of King’s beating made the incident national news, and the venue was moved out of Los Angeles to nearby Simi Valley to ensure the officers got a fair trial. When the mostly white jury acquitted all four officers, riots started in South Los Angeles. Police quickly lost control of entire neighborhoods, and seemed to abandon others.
     
    The Los Angeles riots included protests, looting, arson, and even murder. Perhaps the most infamous act of violence was televised when a group of rioters dragged truck driver Reginald Denny out of his vehicle and beat him into unconsciousness. (Denny survived, brain damaged, and the rioters were acquitted.) King himself rejected the violence, famously pleading, “Can’t we all just get along?”
     
    The riots ended six days later as the military (California National Guard, U.S. Marines, and Army military police) took control of the area. In the end, 53 people were killed, 4,000 injured, and property damage was estimated at a billion dollars.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    abandon Verb

    to desert or leave entirely.

    acquit Verb

    to release a person from blame or legal responsibility.

    arson Noun

    crime of intentionally setting an illegal fire.

    ensure Verb

    to guarantee.

    incident Noun

    event or happening.

    infamous Adjective

    having a very bad reputation.

    jury Noun

    group of people selected to determine facts in a specific case.

    Encyclopedic Entry: jury
    loot Verb

    to steal or take something illegally.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    murder Verb

    to kill a person.

    neighborhood Noun

    an area within a larger city or town where people live and interact with one another.

    Encyclopedic Entry: neighborhood
    plead Verb

    to beg or sincerely appeal to someone for something.

    property Noun

    goods or materials (including land) owned by someone.

    protest noun, verb

    demonstration against a policy or action.

    riot Noun

    large, violent, public disturbance.

    subdue Verb

    to overpower.

    unconscious Noun

    unaware, asleep, or in a sleep-like state.

    venue Noun

    location of an event.

    verdict Noun

    legal decision made by a judge or jury.