Rodney King’s daughter: Build bridges with police

Amanda Lee Myers
Associated Press

Los Angeles — Rodney King’s daughter was just 7 when her father was beaten bloody by the Los Angeles Police Department.

She was eating breakfast when it came on the morning news, video footage showing LAPD officers hitting her unarmed father dozens of times with batons. It gave her nightmares for years.

Now 32, Lora King stood shoulder to shoulder with about a dozen LAPD officers on Thursday after speaking about her experience and her father’s famous March 1991 beating to a group of young people who have had their own run-ins with police.

Her message: It’s more important to build bridges with officers than to stand against them.

“That’s actually what my dad stood for, so I’m following in his footsteps. He had no hatred in his heart for police,” King said Thursday ahead of her talk with about 60 young adults with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, which provides at-risk youth with job training, education and work.

King said she’s had her own negative interactions with police. Despite that and her father’s beating, she said a whole police department can’t be judged by the actions of a few.

“It is hard to trust,” she said. “But it’s not going to get anything resolved by hating.”

More than anything, she said, officers need to listen to the community, and the community needs to keep an open mind.

King said her father’s beating was an eye-opener at the time, “but it’s like everyone dozed off again.”

In the last couple years, concern has been growing over police tactics in the wake of a number of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of officers across the country. Officers have increasingly become targets themselves, most notably a sniper who killed five officers in Dallas in July.

King died at the age of 47 after he accidentally drowned in 2012.

King’s beating was the touchstone for one of the most destructive race riots in the nation’s history. The 1992 riots lasted three days and left 55 people dead, more than 2,000 injured and swaths of Los Angeles on fire. At the height of the violence, King pleaded on television: “Can we all get along?”