Critics Compare CA Highway Patrol Beating Of Woman To Rodney King Case


The videotaped beating of a homeless and barefoot African-American woman by a California Highway Patrol officer is reopening the race-relations dialogue initiated by the videotaped beating of Rodney King 23 years ago, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Community activists and police watchdog groups are trying to assess the similarities and differences between the beating of the woman on the side of a Los Angeles freeway on July 1, and the beating of King after a high-speed car chase. The acquittal of four white police officers in the King case led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the costliest in U.S. history with more than 50 people killed and 2,000 injured.

The comparison of the two incidents provides insight into how far the issue of police brutality has, or has not, progressed, analysts say. Recorded on the cell phone of a passerby, the video shows a light-skinned officer repeatedly punching a woman in the face on the side of the freeway. The police version of events is that an officer tried to stop the woman, but that she repeatedly ignored the commands, at one point veering “into the traffic lanes.” Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a local activist, says the latest beating has provoked the same anger and rage from community residents as the King beating, and sparked demands for federal and state probes, and prosecution of the officer or officers. “It’s no exaggeration to say this is a Rodney King II case. The parallels are obvious,” he says. “Two police officers physically assaulting a woman, the woman is African-American, and the assault is captured by a passing civilian with his camera in all its graphic, gory and shocking detail.”

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