Racism: Police Brutality and White Police Officer Essay examples

Submitted By erinicole28
Words: 1769
Pages: 8

Erica Myers
American Studies 395 T/TR 10:00-11:15
Professor Loftin
Fall 2012
City Under Fire California, the Golden State known for its range of weather and lively Hollywood scene, has always been a state widely desirable by many. For decades people from all over the nation have been migrating here to get their own piece of the California dream. But the California dream isn't always what it's made out to be. The city of Los Angeles has seen its fair share of violence in the past 50 years. With Los Angeles being so ethnically diverse, racial tensions were bound to arise as some point or another. Two instances that occurred in Los Angeles led to two of them most violent riots the city has ever seen. The first were the arrest of African American Marquette Frye by white police officer Lee Minikus. The other was the profoundly violent and horrific beating of African American Rodney King by four white police officers. In both of the disturbances race and class each played a contributing factor in the riots, but in each occurrence one factor dominated over the other. In 1965 just outside the city of Watts, California a African American man by the name of Marquette Frye was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated by Lee Minikus, a white police officer. While the arrest was being made a crowd began to gather and soon racial tension began to rise and resulted in an outbreak of violence that lasted six days. In my opinion, I view this disturbance as more of a riot then a uprising because although it was a confrontation with the authorities that sparked the hostility, it was still a unorganized group of people who lashed out with intense and irrationally violence toward their city rather than an act of rebellion against the government. As for the causes of the riots, I tend to agree with McCone's agrument that it was primarily due to the location where the riots took place of the economic situation of those living in the area (McCone 1965, pg. 456). McCone goes further to explain that both the home life of the individual and the level of education they received along with the high unemplyment rates of the area also added to the outbreak of violence. Before McCone mentions ways of fixing the problem, he acknowledges the fact that if nothing is done segregation would be likely to increase (McCone 1965, pg. 457). I consider McCone's points to be biggest contributing factor when it came to these riots. It is my belief that in the moment of the arrest it was the racial aspect of the situation that ignited the unrest, but it was the economic situation between the classes that fed the unrest that resulted in all the destruction and devastation. The riots were just another example of the barriers that are present between certain races of people and people of different social classes. The dream of living in the beautiful state of California is not without its troubles. It is very interesting that McCone notes the possibility of an event occurring on a much larger scale in the future if something is not changed (McCone 457). In the spring of 1991, an African American man by the name of Rodney King whom after leading the police on a pursuit was severely beaten during his arrest. This show of heinous police brutality was caught on film and shown to the public eye. People were angered but surely there was to be justice for the crime. After moving the case to a court in Semi Valley, on April 29, 1992 the verdict in the Rodney King case came back and all four of the police officers were acquitted, that is when all hell broke loose. Many people were extremely angered by the injustice of it. Businesses, owned by any race including Blacks, Koreans, and Whites were destroyed, burnt to the ground. Looting was a common occurrence. Beatings took place, with some even going so far as to ending in death. this disturbance was really more of a riot then a uprising. In this case we have a large group of angry