Rodney King – 17 Years After The Los Angeles Riots

Wednesday night is date night, which means you guys get a little neglected; and for that I apologize. Here’s a little something to cover my butt.

Did you know the Los Angeles Riots happened 17 years ago today (April 29th)? Yes, it really has been that long.

Dr. Drew twittered an update of Rodney King’s sobriety today, then a couple hours later twittered a link to an excellent article entitled, “Rodney King: 17 Years After The Riots.”

I’m sharing the beginning with you here. But please be sure to read the complete article at LAist.com – the beating of Rodney King and the resulting riots are events that should never be forgotten.

Rodney King’s near-death plunge to infamy began with a twelve-pack of malt liquor. King’s intoxicated, high-speed driving on March 3, 1991 united him a group of Los Angeles Police Department officers. Their boots, billy clubs, and Taser, would beat the 25 year-old King into the history books.

Thirteen months later, on April 29, 1992, LAPD officers, Stacy Koon, Laurence Powell, Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind, were acquitted of assaulting King. The city’s mounting racial unrest ignited. That was the first day of the Los Angeles Riots. More than fifty people would lose their lives, and damages would exceed hundreds of millions of dollars.

King, 44, no longer drinks alcohol or uses drugs. He’s ten months sober, and has recently found peace with the LAPD officers who scarred both his life and the LAPD.

On a recent Friday night King could be found sharing the strength and hope of his journey with a Multiple Sclerosis recovery group. “I spoke and I sung a little song for them, just something off the top of my head,” King told LAist. Though King grew up singing, he admitted it had been a while since his last performance. “It was real therapeutic for me. It’s been cool getting out there, supporting other people.”

While not afflicted with M.S., King had spent decades battling another chronic, debilitating disease. King’s alcoholism, his incessant drinking despite the cost, had given him a life he didn’t want.

Struggling to get on the wagon, King jumped at the chance to appear on VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.” In doing so he received televised treatment under the care of Dr. Drew Pinsky, a board certified M.D. with an addiction medicine specialty.

The first episode showed King days prior to admittance at the Pasadena Recovery Center. He was heavily intoxicated and working as a tow truck operator. He nearly crushed himself attempting to tow a vehicle. “I couldn’t believe it,” King said of the incident he didn’t remember.

Working on the tow truck alongside King were his drinking buddies also hailing from the Pasadena area. “Those were the kind of guys I hang around when I’m drinking,” he said. “They don’t look after nobody’s safety, they just sit out and drink all day and tell lies.”

Despite previous stints at rehab centers, King would consistently return to drinking. Throughout these stays he was filled with shame. He believed the stigma of calling oneself an “alcoholic” was worse than the disease itself. King hoped appearing on “Celebrity Rehab” would show the still-suffering this wasn’t how he felt anymore.

“People can look at it like they need to go in and get a tune-up, and not feel so embarrassed,” he said of treatment centers. “If someone gets that message, then it has been really worth it.” King hoped someone might watch the show and say “’with that person going in there, let me try and find me a place I can go in.’”…

…Dr. Drew and King retraced the 1991 car chase, and visited The Spot for the “Celebrity Rehab” follow-up “Sober House.” King had penned a letter expressing his forgiveness of the officers whom he had spent years resenting. He read it, then deposited flowers and a bible on the roadside.

“This time I was able to focus on how I wound up in a spot like that,” King said. “I thought it was really nice going back to The Spot, and walking away from it with the Doctor. It shows I can put it behind me.”…

…“I feel very honored to have been there with him for that experience,” said Dr. Drew. “What was surprising to me was the incredible clarity and speed with which Rodney seemed to come to terms with this incident. Speaking to his family, I found that this is not out of character for Rodney.”

Sometimes out of the darkest corners of humanity comes a light of hope, bringing lessons to be learned.

Today that light is a sober Rodney King.

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