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Introduction In 1991 an African American named Rodney King was pulled over for speeding and reckless driving by Los Angeles police officers. When King resisted arrest, the police beat him with their batons and kicked him repeatedly. The beating was captured on videotape and released to the press. The episode received national attention, and many observers cited the videotape as evidence of endemic police brutality against African American suspects. In April 1992 the four police officers involved in the King beating were found not guilty by a white jury in suburban Los Angeles . News of the innocent verdict outraged African American Los Angeles residents, particularly those in poorer areas of the city who had long complained of police brutality and saw the verdict as an example of white racism. Within hours of the verdict, enraged young African Americans began rioting throughout south-central Los Angeles . The rioting lasted for more than three days, led to more than forty deaths, and caused millions of dollars in property damage. In the essay reprinted below, the state of race relations and the lessons of the Los Angeles riots are explored by David Gergen, a former speechwriter for Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. Source: Source: U.S.News & World Report , May 11, 1992, “The Two Nations of America.” One of the most familiar stories in our Judeo-Christian heritage is that of Saul of Tarsus riding toward Damascus, preparing to persecute the new disciples.
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