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Readers respond: Rodney King a 'paradigm shift'

June 19, 2012 |  1:24 pm

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Rodney King, whose beating by Los Angeles police helped spark the 1992 L.A. riots, died Sunday at his home in Rialto at age 47. An unlikely public figure who was pulled into the heated fray of race relations by chance, King held a variety of meanings for readers.

We asked readers to share feelings and opinions about King. Here's how you responded.

What did Rodney King represent for you?

Rodney King, whose beating by Los Angeles police helped spark the 1992 L.A. riots, died Sunday at his home in Rialto at age 47. King became a symbolic figure after the riots, and the Times asked readers to reflect on his legacy.

Storified by LA Times - LA NOW ยท Tue, Jun 19 2012 16:00:52

Rodney King dies at 47; victim of brutal beating became reluctant symbol of race relationsRodney King never set out to be a James Meredith or Rosa Parks. He was a drunk, unemployed construction worker on parole when he careened...
The Times asked readers on Twitter and Facebook to tell us what Rodney King represented to them, what he stood for and how they will remember him..
For readers, King represented an average guy, who became an accidental hero, a symbol of a changing Los Angeles, and a reminder of the 1992 L.A. riots. 
He represented Strength and the courage to stand up to a greater authority RT @LANow did Rodney King represent for you?Ms. Elisa H. โ™”
@lanow An average guy with a way above average drinking problem It was alcohol at the route of his demise Rioters exploited Rodney. PretenseMichael P. Whelan
@LANow the fall of society.maria
@LANow improper use of authority by the LAPD & Judicial injustice!Jarv
@LANow I lived here prior to 92, it was bad. #rodneyking was a #paradigmshift, a breaking point. Things ARE better and Equality has spread.iNFiNiTE
"@latimes: What did Rodney King represent for you?" The birth of South Central - now South LAJamison
The injustice in this world that will never go away. RT @latimes What did Rodney King represent for you?The Cool
"@latimes: What did Rodney King represent for you?"Rodney King represented a call for unity and peace to me.Julie Ann Asperger
@latimes: What did Rodney King represent for you? A reluctant man who became internationally famous but couldn't find peace in himself.Cathi Mims Yamaguchi
RT @DawudWalid: โ€œ@latimes: What did Rodney King represent for you?โ€ A symbol, not a leader or a role model.Dania Sandfia
Injustice, cops at their worst, a sad and inexplicable end to an unfair life RT @latimes: What did Rodney King represent for you?foodshethought
@latimes "RIP" Rodney KingHE Represented the Sanctioned Police Brutality and the Vulnerability of Men & Boys of Color, It CREATES.EnigMaa
RT @latimes What did Rodney King represent for you? - Police brutality toward non caucasiansAznivB
@LANow A change that needed to happen in the LAPD he struggled for a long time now hopefully he is at peaceMrs. Paula Jones
Rodney King was the man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the police brutally beat him. Rodney didn't start the L.A. riots, the jury that freed the police are the ones that started the riots. In his lifetime Mr. King fought many addictions & demons. My sympathies go out to his children who lost their dad on Father's Day. He fought the good fight, as best as he could and lost. RIP, Mr. King. Chris Woods
this man never had it easy no matter what,he was beat for no reason, but the people who beat him will answer to one with higher authority than all of us .he opened our eyes to treat people as people,not like we are all throwaways.the world needs more respect and help out your fellow man , wether black,brown,red,yellow,we are all people and thats what counts be the BEST you can be and pass it on to someone else.thats a gift GOD wants us to give. try it youll feel better.GOD BLESS MR. RODNEY KING AND CONDOLSECES TO HIS FAMILY.Rob Walker


King struggled with demons after beating

Rodney King was feeling fulfilled before death, co-author says

Rodney King death: Neighbor says he was sobbing uncontrollably

--Samantha Schaefer

Photo: A community tribute to Rodney King held Monday in Leimert Park.  Credit: Margaret Cheatham Williams / Los Angeles Times