On March 3, 1991, Rodney King, a black man, was driving on the I-210 Foothill Freeway through a Los Angeles neighborhood. Two California Highway Patrol officers attempted to pull King over, but he refused to stop and took the CHP on a high speed chase both on the freeway and through neighborhood streets. The CHP officers estimated that the speeds reached 115 mph.
When King finally stopped his car, the two passengers were subdued and placed in police cars. King was the last to exit his vehicle and when he did, five white LA police officers used tasers and their batons to subdue King. The incident was caught on video, which showed the brutal actions of the police, but it also showed that King continued to resist arrest and kept trying to get to his feet in defiance of the police.
Naturally, the whole incident was turned into a racial issue involving 5 white cops and 1 poor helpless black man. Four of five of the police officers were arrested and charged with assault and use of excessive force. On April 29, 1992, the jury acquitted all of police officers sparking off deadly riots by the black Los Angeles community.
After five days of intense rioting that took police and National Guard units to control, over 3,600 fires had been set, 1,100 buildings were destroyed, over 2,000 people were injured and 53 were dead. Areas of Los Angeles looked like war zones.
Officials in Sanford, Florida, are fearing the same types of riots if the jury acquits George Zimmerman of the killing Trayvon Martin. Norton Bonaparte, Sanford City Manager says they are doing everything possible to prevent Rodney King style riots from taking place in his city. One of his fears is that outsiders will come to Sanford for the sole purpose of committing violence and sparking riots.
Cecile Smith, Police Chief of Sanford, has his officers going door to door, talking to the residents of the city in an effort to prevent any kind of violence from taking place. When asked about SWAT units or other precautions he is taking to prevent violence, he just said that he’s not at liberty to comment at this time.
Even though Zimmerman is Hispanic and not white, there have already been a number of black on white attacks that have been committed in the name of Trayvon Martin. There is no doubt in today’s climate of situation ethics and the ‘me’ mentality, that Sanford could be a very volatile place to be when the verdict is read. If Zimmerman is found guilty, the blacks could still riot and cause damage and injury like they do in Detroit or other places when a team wins a championship. If Zimmerman is acquitted, I fear that not only Sanford will erupt in violence, but that a number of places will see a surge in black on white violence. The racial tensions will run as high, if not higher than they did during the race riots of the 1960s and people will die. Right now, everything is just sitting and ticking like a time bomb, waiting for the verdict to be read.