Caleb Bacon of LAist has posted a thoroughly engaging and sympathetic piece on Rodney King, the now-44-year-old black motorist whose savage beating by LAPD cops in 1991 would result a year later in citywide rioting. That 1992 violence, which exploded 17 years ago today, has been eradicated from the civic consciousness yet remains as a scar upon our collective memory -- even now arguments break out over exactly what to call the disturbances during which 53 people died.
Bacon profiles King's life and his years-long battle with alcoholism. Some revealing moments: King learning that L.A.'s legal bureaucracy had braced itself for a $25-million settlement with him, but got lucky when his lawyer had him accept a $3.8 million payout; how he eagerly embraced Dr. Drew Pinsky's invitation to participate in his Celebrity Rehab TV program, which has resulted in him being 10 months sober; King literally finding his voice as he sings, for the first time in years, to a multiple sclerosis recovery group.
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Topping King's recollections, of course, is the night of his beatdown on Foothill Boulevard in Lake View Terrace.
"I knew what kind of dudes followed a police chase," Bacon's interview quotes King, who, even in the dark, could see some cops
taking out their billy clubs after he'd pulled over while driving
drunk. "I knew it wasn't going to be nothing nice."