Rodney King’s Daughter Recalls LA Riots 30 Years Later: ‘It Was Just Crazy’

Thirty years ago, four Los Angeles police officers were acquitted in the savage beating of Rodney King.

The verdict sparked one of the worst race riots in American history. Violence erupted at the intersection of Florence and Normandy Avenues in South Central Los Angeles on April 29, 1992.

The city burned as the riots spread, with whole blocks of homes and businesses ablaze. By the time order was restored six days later, more than 60 people had died.

Lora King, pictured aged 14 with her father Rodney King.
Lora King

As the city celebrates 30 years since the riots, King’s daughter, Lora King, 38, recalls being an 8-year-old girl who witnessed the mayhem unfolding on her father’s behalf.

“We had just moved. We moved from Montclair, California, to the heart of South Central, where the real riots took place,” she said. Newsweek. “It was just crazy. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life.”

She continued, “I don’t agree with violence, with burning things. But I understand the language of not being heard.”

When she first saw grainy captured bystander video of officers repeatedly hitting, kicking and using a stun gun on King, who was black, on television in March 1991, she didn’t immediately realize the man was her father.

“I thought how ironic it was that it was someone who had the same name as my dad,” she said.

But she came to the devastating realization after seeing her family members’ reactions to the footage. “It’s something that still haunts me, even today,” she said. “It’s extremely difficult for adults to watch, so imagine a 7-year-old watching his dad. I really wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

A car burns during the 1992 riots
A car burns as looters take to the streets at the intersection of Florence and Normandie avenues, April 29, 1992,
Steve Grayson/WireImage

King died after accidentally drowning at the age of 47 on June 17, 2012.

But his daughter said “a big part of him” died the night he was beaten. “He was never the same again. Physically, emotionally, mentally,” she said.

He had never wanted to say how much he was in pain, she said. “He was super happy, super loving,” she added.

She believes he would have been ‘heartbroken’ if he had lived to see the 2020 murder of black man George Floyd after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes – and the sometimes violent protests it sparked across the United States

In 2021, people celebrated Derek Chauvin’s conviction in the murder of Floyd on the same streets where the riots began.

Lora King attends Black Lives Matter protest
Lora King, daughter of Rodney King, attends a Black Lives Matter protest in the Venice Beach neighborhood of Los Angeles on Friday, June 12, 2020.
Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo

This belief gives King’s daughter hope for the future. “I think we’ve grown closer, but unfortunately I feel like we’re still divided at the end of the day,” she said.

“I’m hopeful because we’ve grown. We haven’t crossed the finish line yet, but we’ve definitely taken a few steps in the race to understand the change and we’re heading in the right direction.”

Still, Lora King said she hopes people remember her father as someone who advocated for peace and for people to “get along” rather than a name synonymous with police brutality and riots.

King appeared in front of the cameras to call for an end to the May Day 1992 riots. “People, I just wanna say, you know, can we all get along?” he said.

It was this philosophy and his guidance that led her to establish the Rodney King Foundation to carry on her legacy after her death. “After my dad passed away, I couldn’t find any way to honor him and I thought, well, I’ll do what he told me to do,” she said.

Rodney King
Rodney King smiles during a press conference calling for an end to violence in the city on May 1, 1992.
Robert Sullivan/AFP via Getty Images


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