Overheard on CNN.com: Rodney King 'had demons. But called them his own'
The CNN community debates Rodney King's often-muddled legacy.
June 17th, 2012
05:48 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Rodney King 'had demons. But called them his own'

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Two decades ago, Rodney King became a divisive figure in American culture. His beating at the hands of Los Angeles Police brought our country’s racial debate to a boil and, for a time, brought the city of Los Angeles to its knees.

King, 47, was found dead today in his swimming pool. His passing has reignited debate on his legacy, the meaning of justice and the state of race of in America.

Here are some examples of what CNN.com readers and CNN iReporters had to say:

Rodney King: An ambiguous figure

thespiritguy: Rodney King wasn't really a hero or villain. Although he was an alcoholic who made a lot of mistakes and certainly deserved legal punishment, I can admire and respect his decision to talk about getting along, at a time when he could have screamed, 'burn down the city.' That act redeemed him, in my book, and he did deserve a settlement. At least it was a reminder to those who are sworn to uphold the law that they can't take prosecution into their own hands, which is healthy.

The debate continues

Brad Simmons:  I'm very familiar with the case. Yes, he did rush the police and perhaps he needed to be restrained but there is what needs to be done to restrain a person and then what these people did. I saw the tape and it was excessive force, plain and simple and if you can't/don't see it, then that's your problem not mine.

Also, the jury doesn't ALWAYS get something right. OJ Simpson got acquitted for killing his wife and Goldman and he was guilty. The system isn't fail proof you know! I know, that must come as a shock to you.

apple597 Thank you, Brad. There was no reason why 2 officers could not have subdued him while the other 2 put his hands in cuffs and held his feet together. The beating was excessive and this video has been shown many times, so whatever happened before is pretty irrelevant. We don't pay taxes so that the police can beat whoever they feel like, so that my tax dollars additionally go to treating these people in the hospital ... their job is to subdue these criminals and take them away. The fact that the guy had to be taken to the hospital and have surgery for his injuries is enough evidence for me.

Another_Fine_Mess: Good man yourself!

A lesson learned

Racism revisited

okatj: Rodney King is a symbol. He's not a hero, and I don't think anyone (including himself) in this country really believes that he was a hero. Those who were watching the television that day (not from their mother's womb where I think a lot of you pinheads were at the time), used to think racial profiling was an urban legend. I know I did until I saw what happened to him - and NO - not a single person on this earth deserves to be beaten nearly to death. Death is reserved for punishment befitting the crime that has occurred and has been proven in a court of law. (I say with some trepidations considering the number of condemned on death row that are being exonerated by DNA evidence.) That camera shot shed light on something that white America was really clueless about because it wasn't happening to them and nobody had shown America the truth.

I am stunned by the racism and ignorance in comments posted here. It's absolutely shameful how so many folks still believe the color of a person"s skin dictates who they are. How absolutely UNAMERICAN of any person in our country to really think in this manner. My grandfather, who I believe was a closeted Klansmen, would be proud of you! (PUTRID and DISGUSTING!!) Those who do think these things should read a little about our country's history.

Can’t we all get along?

Brational2:  He wasn't a saint. He had demons. But he knew their names and called them his own. He didn't blame anybody else for them. He endured things most of us never will have to. He forgave what many of us could not. And he asked one really important question, for which he will be remembered, and which still needs an answer: Can we all get along?

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Filed under: Justice • Overheard on CNN.com • Race
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. ipmutt

    No one cares except mainstream media.

    June 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lucifer

      No one cares? Then why are you reading? and commenting?

      June 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Atheist

    I don't see Mr King as a hero, but merely a victim of his own crininal intent. One only has to view his extensive
    criminal record to see that he definitely had his own internal demons which guided his life.
    I do give him credit for his profound statement,"Can't we all just get along"?.
    I think it was a geniune comment on his part at that time.

    June 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      Not a hero, but one of the first big cases showing the malicious brutality of the police.

      June 17, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Thort copied/pasted his information, slanting it the way he wanted it to read.
    What's your agenda, thort?
    The man is gone.

    June 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sitepane

    You guys can continue to ramble, grumble and talk silly. The simple fact is that Ridney King is dead. But his message will live forever. "Can't we all get along?". That is the Biggest Question for us still living. Food for thought fellow Americans.

    June 17, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • pork&beans

      "can't we all just get along"
      Sadly, so far, we've proven we can't.

      June 18, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. Drew

    @thort, he had his issues as we all do but I surmise he was much less a danger to our society than you currently are. People with your mentality are the reason there is so much division in this country and on this day I'm making sure you know to your face you serve no positive purpose in this nation.
    Furthermore no one will talk about you when you leave but we'll always remember Rodney's message of "Can't We All Just Get Along"!

    June 17, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tizzy

    R.I.P. My Brother.

    June 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BOMBO ©

    You've got to get dusted and lip them off, and someone needs to videotape the beating. And the cops need to be white. Then you'll get paid.

    June 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. madmaninthemiddle

    The thing that struck me most about the case- only once did I ever see the entire video. That was on the Newshour (PBS). The short clip of him being beaten was shown thousands of times, and is being re-played ad infinitum now.

    I don't thinks it's liberal bias- I think it's a bias for sensationalism, which brings ratings. Sad that so many hours of coverage and debate on this story, and no for-profit broadcast entity could spare the few minutes it takes to show the entire video.

    June 17, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Greek American

    This guy was beat by the LAPD and a victim of police brutality, plain and simple. If they hadn't found those stupid racist cops not guilty, then the riots wouldve never happened. A similar thing happened near me here in Detroit, very close to the time of the Rodney King incident by the way, with Malice Green. Three white cops beat him and he ended up dying. They got tossed in the clink though to pay for their crime. Therefore, no riots here.

    June 17, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dnick47

    It's amzing that there is so little respect evn for the dead. Leave the man rest in peace.

    June 17, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. maureen

    rest in peace

    June 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. myway

    RIP, Rodney K. Your battered body has forever changed LA's spin on racial issues and probably paved the way for OJ's acquittal. Through you the LAPD experienced a sobering karmic moment they are still trying to live down today. You managed to stay clear of the subsequent debate which is more than anyone could have expected. It was fascinating witnessing all this while sharing the same city with you.

    June 17, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Belarius Marek

    He was a criminal. Not a hero, nor an icon. He was a catalyst for other criminals to ply their trade. His statement, "can't we all just get along", was compelled by the authorities. NOT by King. He was given a deal and inecentive. He would not have uttered those words on his own. He needs to be forgotten, and with luck he will be.

    June 18, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
    • lsteel

      Yes, the "can't we get along" media event was organized by King's lawyers. They had King wear a sweater to make him appear less threatening. He was a big man, taller than most of the other people at the event. People should know that event was not King's idea. And as for taking responsibility and naming his demons, the way to do that would have been to quit endangering others by driving drunk. I'm not happy that he died in this tragic way, but he was never a hero of mine.

      June 18, 2012 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Ciemma

      I dont think too many people think he was a hero. He was a victim. Period. He had demons that he acknowledged. No matter those demons, what happened to him should have never ever happened. Ever.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  14. pork&beans

    The blatant racism and ignorance displayed in the comments under the main article are just as bad, if not worse than the riots or the beating.
    I really am stunned that in 2012, Americans are still so closed minded and unforgiving. Man, what anguish you all must suffer.

    June 18, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. pork&beans

    Thank you for your biography on Rodney King.
    Is this supposed to harden those hearts that feel loss when someone parts this world?

    June 18, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
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