On this day in 1991, Rodney King, a Black motorist, was brutally kicked, tasered and beaten by four white Los Angeles Police officers during a traffic stop on a San Fernando Valley freeway. The incident was caught on film by an amateur cameraman who released the 12-minute video to a local news station, unveiling the underbelly of the LAPD and galvanizing a call to justice from civil rights leaders and others appalled by the blatant abuse of power. When the four officers were acquitted by a mostly white jury one year later, violent riots erupted through the heavily minority community of South Los Angeles and spread into other parts of the city; three people were killed and nearly 2,400 were hurt.
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(Photo: AP Photo/George Holliday/Courtesy of KTLA Los Angeles, File)