Rodney King Riots

Damage in Los Angeles after the 1992 riots, which killed 63 people and caused over $1 billion in damages
Damage in Los Angeles after the 1992 riots, which killed 63 people and caused over $1 billion in damages

Historical Context

On April 29, 1992, four white police officers of the Los Angeles Police Department were acquitted over charges they used excessive force when arresting Rodney King, then a 25-year-old African-American who had led police on a high-speed chase. The video of King being violently beaten by officers during his arrest was widely viewed in America and around the world after a nearby civilian filmed the events and gave it to a local TV station.

African-Americans in Los Angeles were enraged by the acquittal of the officers. Thousands of people began rioting across the city. For six days, scenes of wanton violence, looting, assault and murder convulsed the city, with incidents like the brutal assault on truck driver Reginald Kenny broadcast live by news helicopters. Much of the damage was located in Koreatown, which was considered a gateway to wealthier suburbs of the city.

Most of Koreatown was destroyed in the subsequent rioting, with many Korean residents forming armed units to protect themselves and their businesses, and gun battles were broadcast on TV.

The violence only came to an end with the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, California National Guard and a number of other state and federal agencies were sent into Los Angeles om the orders of President George H. W. Bush to bring the rioting to an end.

The riots were not only the result of the Rodney King incident, with years of police brutality allegations leveled at the LAPD and tensions between African-Americans and Korean-Americans in the area.

Photo Info


Photographer: Mick Taylor
Location taken: Los Angeles, California, USA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1991-03-03 Los Angeles police officers severely beat motorist Rodney King, the beating is famously captured on amateur video and later leads to riots when the police officers are acquitted
  • 1991-03-15 4 officers of the Los Angeles Police Department are charged with excessive force over the beating of Rodney King
  • 1992-02-05 Jury selection begins in the trial of Los Angeles police charged with beating Rodney King
  • 1992-04-29 Jury acquits Los Angeles Police Department officers on charges of excessive force in the beating of Rodney King; the decision sparks massive riots in the city
  • 1992-05-01 Los Angeles Dodgers postpone 3 MLB games due to racial riots over the infamous Rodney King beating
  • 1992-05-04 US Army and Marine Corps forces arrive in Los Angeles to end rioting following the acquittal of four police officers over the beating of Rodney King
  • 1992-08-05 4 officers of the Los Angeles Police Department, acquttied on charges of beating Rodney King, are indicted on civil rights charges
  • 1993-02-03 Federal trial of 4 police officers charged with civil rights violations in videotaped beating of Rodney King begins in Los Angeles, California
  • 1993-04-16 Jury reaches guilty verdict in federal case against police officers (two convicted, two acquitted) who beat Rodney King, but the verdict is not read until April 17th
  • 1993-04-17 Two Los Angeles police officers convicted in federal court of violating Rodney King's civil rights and sentenced to prison, while two others are acquitted,
  • 1994-04-19 Rodney King awarded $3,800,000 compensation by the Los Angeles County for his police beating

Historical Photos