The Ancestors Bring Rodney King Home


Rodney King, as outraged Angelenos rioted after the verdict in Simi Valley in 1992, asked for everyone to get along (Courtesy: CNN)

TMZ is reporting that Rodney G. King, the man in whose name the 1992 Los Angeles Riots broke out after the police officers who beat King  bloody were acquitted, died suddenly this morning.

King, 47, was found at the bottom of a swimming pool by his fiancee, Cynthia Kelly.

Police in Rialto, California, received a 911 call from King’s fiancee, Cynthia Kelly, about 5:25 a.m., said Capt. Randy De Anda. Responding officers found King at the bottom of the pool, removed him and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital, police said.

There were no preliminary signs of foul play, De Anda said, and no obvious injuries on King’s body. Police are conducting a drowning investigation, he said, and King’s body would be autopsied.

Kelly — who was a juror in King’s lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles in 1994 — told police King was an “avid swimmer,” but that she was not, De Anda said. She reported the two had just had a conversation and she went inside, but came back out after hearing a splash and saw him at the bottom of the pool.

De Anda said he did not see any drug paraphernalia “or anything that would indicate that Mr. King was intoxicated” at the scene, but a toxicology screen would be performed.

No doubt.

My immediate feeling is that King probably had a coronary, sank below the water, and drowned.

However, TMZ is also saying that according to Cynthia Kelly (or Kelley), King had been drinking all day Saturday and smoking dope today hours before his death.

Around 5:00 a.m., however, King may have been in trouble.  He woke up Kelly with a great bellow, and started pounding on the glass sliding door leading to the pool area.  She asked him what was wrong, and went for her phone to summon paramedics.  When she heard the loud splash as his body hit the water, she rushed out and found him inert at the bottom.

King has often struggled with his alcohol and drug addictions in the decades since the infamous beating.  A couple of years ago, when he announced that he was engaged to be married to Kelly, a juror in his lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, it was also revealed at the same time that he had been picked up for drunk driving and had been sent to rehab—again.  But that was then.

Toxicology results, however, do not lie. He may have eaten or shot up something that was not so benign as mary jane as well as the alcohol.

I am sorry for King, truly.  I don’t think that his life was all of a waste; he was more than just his headlines.  But I was getting tired of hearing about him being picked up.  And worse, that he was abusive to his women.  Like many Americans in the throes of their addictions, be it alcohol, PCP, coke, or meth-amphetamines, he could not break the pattern of binge, breakdown and being clean.  Just staying clean was too much for him.  The world was too much for him. I see his destructive ways as being as much about self-medication as well as losing control.  

In the two decades since the riots, Mr. King has been in and out of jail and rehabilitation centers, mostly for drug and alcohol abuse. He has been arrested multiple times for driving under the influence, and spent short stints in prison in the late 1990s for assaulting his ex-wife and daughter. In recent years he has appeared on the television shows “Celebrity Rehab” and “Sober Living” on VH1.

In April, Mr. King published a memoir detailing his struggles, saying in several interviews that he was hopeful, but that he had not been able to find steady work and was essentially broke.

Despite all this, I don’t believe that King’s exit was a suicide.  If you can call ongoing drug and alcohol addiction not committing suicide.

It’s unfortunate that King was a harbinger and a purveyor of the D-list celebrity trade that has since proved quite lucrative, despite muddying the airwaves.  This trade is based on the misbehavior,  tragedy and unhappiness of people who oughta know better, but don’t know no better.  King made personal appearances on these and other TV shows and venues capitalizing, you might say, on his notoriety,  but this was not enough to keep him solvent.  If anything, Rodney King was much happier working with his hands as a laborer or construction worker.

There is bound to be much more about Rodney King, both good and bad, in the news this week and also when the toxicology results are due.  However, I repeat, I believe the man was much more than just his headlines.  If anything, his vicious and brutal beating and Tasering laid it out to millions how law enforcement sometimes goes too far in meting out as well as withholding justice to African Americans and other people of color.  King was just a regular citizen, and if he didn’t have these problems that made him run afoul of the law, he would have remained just that and unknown.  In that, King represents ordinary Americans far more than one may think.

Rest in peace, Rodney.  Come back to us when you are ready.

~ by blksista on June 17, 2012.

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