In the wake of the officer shooting of Michael Brown, I was reminded of the incidents leading up to the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Many attribute that destruction to the videotape of the Rodney King beating (early 1991) and subsequent acquittals of the officers involved (April 1992).
But in addition to Rodney King was Latasha Harlins. A couple of weeks after the Rodney King beating, a store owner shot and killed Harlins, who the store owner accused of stealing a bottle of orange juice. A scuffle ensued and the store owner shot Harlins. Like the King incident, there was videotape evidence.
In November, 1991, the store owner was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to probation and community service. About five months later the police officers in the King trial were acquitted.
That doesn’t necessarily justify the rioting/looting/burning, but one can reasonably offer that justice was not served in either incident.
In the Michael Brown shooting, there is no video evidence, only the words of the officer, witnesses and autopsy report. It doesn’t seem likely the eventual verdict will be any different than it was for Harlins or King, or perhaps, for Dillon Taylor.
South Salt Lake
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