Los Angeles riots figure Rodney King dies, aged 47 | News | DW | 17.06.2012
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Los Angeles riots figure Rodney King dies, aged 47

The man whose beating by police in 1991 sparked race riots in Los Angeles has been found dead. He was 47 years old.

Twenty years ago, Rodney King's name became a symbol for tumultuous race relations in the United States. King was beaten by police in 1991. The beating was videotaped by a bystander, sparking deadly race riots in Los Angeles.

On Sunday, King was found dead in a swimming pool in Rialto, California. Police pulled his body from the pool but were unable to resuscitate him, Rialto Police Captain Randy De Anda said.

Police are conducting a drowning investigation, and De Anda said there were no preliminary signs of foul play.

Video of abuse sparks riots

The beating occurred after King and some friends were stopped by Los Angeles police on March 3, 1991, following a high-speed chase.

King suffered a beating by police with batons, and a bystander filmed the abuse. When the officers were formally cleared of brutality charges in 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles. The riots caused an estimated $1 billion (791 million euros) in damage and claimed 53 lives.

Learning to forgive

For this year's 20th anniversary of the riots, King was asked to discuss racism in America.

"There's always gonna be some type of racism," he told CNN.

About the officers who beat him, King said: "I have forgiven (them), because America has forgiven me for so many things and given me so many chances."

"You get to have a second chance, and I've been given a second chance," said King, who has had a number of brushes with the law since 1992.

"I have much respect for (the police), much respect ... some of them went out of their way over the years to try to make it up to me. Not all of them is (sic) bad."

tm/jlw (Reuters, AFP)