Rodney King Remembered As A "Healer"
Several hundreds of mourners attended the public memorial service at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills to honor King, an African-American man whose videotaped beating at the hands of one Latino and three white Los Angeles Police Department police officers helped trigger the 1992 LA Riots when they were acquitted.
But those close to King, 47, wanted him to be known for bringing people together. King’s middle daughter, Dene King, 28, said she was always proud of her father through the intense media coverage that followed him throughout his life.
“I will remember his smile, his heart and his unconditional love,” said Dene King, who was joined on stage by his other daughters, Candice, 30, and Tristan, 19.
Some in attendance wiped away tears as the daughters spoke about their father, while others clapped as a show of support.
“It’s just sad that some people don’t know him and judge him by what they see in the media,” Dene King said. “Those that knew him, you just have to smile.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered the eulogy, called Rodney King a “symbol of forgiveness” who did not show resentment toward the officers who had beaten him.
“We lost a symbol,” Sharpton said during a news conference held outside the service. “He rose above his scars to make this a better country for everyone. I would hope we remember him as a unifier.”
“This is about a soul who’s a good person,” Lerman said. “He’ll live on in the history books and the speeches people make.”
Near the end of the service, a photo montage paying tribute to Rodney King was played to the accompaniment of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”
Rodney King’s plea, “Can we all get along,” which he made in reaction to the riots, was engraved on a gray casket adorned with white flowers as a large portrait of him smiling stood beside it.
Anthony Zuiker, creator and executive producer of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” stepped in to donate $10,000 for the funeral and reception after King’s family had asked for public donations to cover the costs.
Rodney King was found dead at the bottom of the swimming pool at his Rialto home on June 17, nearly two months after the 20th anniversary of the riots. His death is being treated as an accidental drowning and police have yet to determine an official cause of death.
Fifty-four people died during the riots, which came after a county clerk in a Simi Valley courthouse read the verdict that acquitted the police officers responsible for the beating. Some 3,000 businesses were vandalized or destroyed and property damage totaled more than $1 billion.
Rodney King later received a $3.8 million settlement from the city of Los Angeles. He also released a memoir, “The Riot Within,” in which he described how his life was altered by the beating.
Reiterating Rodney King’s role as a “healer” during that period of racial tension, Sharpton said he wanted the famous five-word plea to leave a lasting impact.
“Everyone remembers when he said, 'Can we all get along?'” Sharpton said. “I hope that still resonates throughout the country today.”
Read more on Neon Tommy's coverage of Rodney King here.