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. Mary

    And where are your skeletons David?
    How easy is to point out others transgressions when you, yourself have anonymity your wrong doings.
    We may never see the look on your face when you read my reply but everyone knows, because everyone has transgressed.
    To bad for you that I couldn't get to sleep.

    June 18, 2012 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mr Dalloway

    To America with love

    June 18, 2012 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. GenericMan

    He was right, "Can't we all just get along?"

    June 18, 2012 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. JC in Western U.S.

    The demons referred to were his struggles with substance abuse, which he never denied and always admitted responsibility for.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. Greg Conn

    Rodney King was a convicted felon POS on parole from prison when he led police on a chase in L.A. at speeds up to 100 MPH. When they finally got him stopped and out of the car, he would not submit and did not want to be subdued to be arrested, he even charged one of the police officers. A viewing of the ENTIRE video shows that. That's why he received those whacks with the batons. Had he conducted himself like a gentleman and a man that evening, the incident wouldn't have escalated.
    It's a shame that a civil jury (containing some of his "peers") awarded him 3.8 million dollars of L.A. taxpayers money.
    It looks like he won't be spending or enjoying any more of that money now.

    June 18, 2012 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Ciemma

      You sir, are a horrible human being. Im sure you or someone you know has driven under the influence of alcohol and just not been pulled over (I can almost guarantee it). NO ONE should be beaten like that for any reason. If you are beaten, Im sure you too would try to defend yourself. It seems there is an entire group of people in this country that are completely unable to put themselves in another's shoes.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. fernace

    A simple man, who was imperfect, has given us a statement that has already gone down in history: "Can't we all just get along?" It's truly befitting in todays divisive political climate! I lived in Cali when Mr. King was beaten, almost to death & watched in disbelief as the subsequent injustice that lead to the riots, unfolded! I still understand what motivated them, because the video was hideous! The aquittal of the 3 cops & slap on the 4th's wrist was injustice of the highest order! Now Mr. King is gone too soon, but leaves an important legacy behind! He, if any1, had the right to be bitter, but insdead he called for peace, for people to get along! We should heed his message! RIP, Rodney King, you will be remembered!!

    June 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aja

      RIP Mr. King.

      It's CALIFORNIA, NOT "Cali". Only Thugs, posers and out of staters use that offensive, ignorant reference.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      THAT'S what you gleened from fernace's post?
      Guess what?
      Fernace isn't from this country....suppose you be a little less jusgmental yourself...
      "Thugs, posers and out of staters"?
      Check yourself.
      You don't sound any better.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      @ Aja. As a native-born Californian, I have to disagree. Call it California, Cali or The Golden State. Just don't call it late for dinner.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sams Dog

      Isn't "Cali" in Columbia? It's about as weird as "THE" 5, and "THE" 405...... Maybe Southern Cal. speak

      June 23, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. GONZO

    what hero!!!! got big buck for being stupid,didnt learn his lesson,kept using drugs and ends up checking his pool drain what a waste of life

    June 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • sdm

      he might not be your hero, but he did bring great awareness to the police beatings amongst african americans in which had been going on for centuries with nothing being done about it, now officers should have a better way of dealing with the matter. he might of struggled with drug and alcohol, most certainly, he is not a FOOL.,

      June 18, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Queenie

    To respond to Greg Conn, do not celebrate this world so fast because nobody knows tomorrow. Rodney King is now dead (we will all travel that road someday) and he's no more a threat to anybody. Instead of you being so nasty, give thanks to God Almighty for His grace and mercy that you are alive and healthy. I don't dispute that Rodney King was a criminal, he was also a fellow human being created by God even though he had some demons. Police are trained on how to handle such criminals and they should have used that training when the occassion demanded it rather than beating him the way they did. He is dead and you are now grunting about the settlement money like it was taken out of your pocket? You are just disgusting!!!

    June 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • sdm

      I AGREE WITH YOU TOTALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      June 18, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. He Belonge!

    Mr. King was a human being borned to a Mother and Father and he was OUR BROTHER created by GOD just like
    you and I. Compassion, Kindness, Mercy can go along way try it some time the next time you pass a fellow human
    being Male or Female. A Smile and or try saying Hello , How are you in passing that may be the only nice word or
    gesture that indiviual and or you may have had all Day...Try It

    June 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Marvelous

    It is quite obvious by comments inwhich apparently racism is blind or,for those show ignorance..Rodney King ,didn't ask to be beaten and tortured by racist Los Angeles police officers.R.I.P Brother Rodney.For all the racist comments to further humiliate him should be ashamed.Its people(animals)like you that continuously perpetuate racism and diversity but,there is an open eye that our President is an African-American.By the way,vote for him.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. fernace

    @banasy, thanks girl, for having my back!@ Aja, as I stated, I Lived in Cali (from '83'-'92') & every1 shortened the name & many used SoCal & O.C to describe the area! Talk about being touchy!!

    June 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MotoJB

    His demons, he called his own? Ahhh, no he didn't...as I recall it was the CA taxpayer that ended up paying for them.

    June 18, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sdm


    June 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sdm


    June 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sofa King

    I heard that he actually died trying to return that Coke bottle to the Gods.

    June 19, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
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