Netflix has debuted what I’m sure will be another controversial excusive, “ Rodney King ”. Spike Lee produced and directed the one-man show performed by Roger Guenveur Smith, who he has worked with before on projects such as “Do the Right Thing” and “Chiraq.”
Lee and Smith’s one man show is based on the life of Rodney King, focused primarily on the 1992 incident when King was violently beaten by multiple LA police officers. Rodney King, at the time on parole, fled the police, leading them on a car chase When they caught up with him, four LA cops violently assaulted and arrested him. King’s beating may have went unnoticed and chalked up to “just another arrest” if a concerned citizen hadn’t caught the incident on camera.
King’s beating and the subsequent court case in which the cops involved were acquitted of all charges sparked a riot in LA. The riot, which started April 29, 1992 lasted until May 1, when then president, George H.W. Bush sent in military troops to calm the city.
In the three days of the riot, 7,000 people were arrested, 60 people were killed and nearly 2,000 were injured. 3,000 buildings were set on fire and caused over $1 billion in property damage.
Of the four officers involved in King’s beating, two, Laurence Powell and Sergeant Stacey Koon were later charged and sentenced in federal court with violating Rodney King’s life by color of the law.
Roger Guenveur Smith has been performing this one man show for the last four years. Netflix chose now to debut the show, which they acquired from Spike Lee earlier this year, because it coincides with the 25th anniversary of King’s beating and the L.A. riots. Guenveur’s show was filmed live at the East River Park Amphitheater. Guenveur is also executive producing the show alongside Matthew Helderman, Luke Taylor, and Patrick DePeters.
The show is billed as “a meditation on a flawed, goodhearted man and reveals America’s endlessly complicated relationship with its racial past and present.”
Rodney King died in 2012 after drowning in his pool. Do you remember the 1992 riots? Does is surprise you that police brutality is still such a hot button issue 25 years later. If videotaped evidence of wrong doing by officers wasn’t good enough 25 years ago or just this week as the Attorney General says that there was no cause to file charges in the horrific murder or Alton Sterling, who was held down by cops and then shot at point blank range, will it ever be?