Rodney King, whose beating by police in 1992 sparked the LA riots, criticized Friday the law at the heart of the contested Trayvon Martin shooting, as he recalled his own struggles.
Speaking a week ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles race riots which left more than 50 people dead, King said he sympathized with Martin’s family but declined to speculate on the role of race in the case.
“I feel sorry for them, that was just a baby, it’s just a baby,” the African American told CNN, when asked about the Martin case, which has triggered protests and a national debate about racial profiling and the law.
“I feel sorry that he had to pay with his life for that type of law,” he said, referring to the “stand your ground” law cited as justification for alleged killer George Zimmerman.
A Florida judge set $150,000 bail earlier Friday for the release of neighborhood watch volunteer Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder for shooting unarmed black teen Martin.
King said: “The family deserves justice, you know, bottom line. Some of those rules need to be changed, and especially that stand your ground law.
“We’ve just gotta wait and see how things turn out .. and hold on to our tempers and keep our country together like we’re supposed to be .. We gotta get through it and make sure that this never happens again,” he added.
King became a symbol of racial tensions in America after his beating by LA police was caught on camera. The police officers involved were acquitted on April 29, 1992, triggering days of deadly rioting in Los Angeles.
He said racism still has to be challenged. “There’s always gonna be some type of racism. But it’s up to us as individuals in this country to look back and see all the accomplishments that we have gotten to this far.”
Asked about his feelings for the police who beat him, he said: “I have forgiven (them), because America has forgiven me for so many things and given me so many chances.
“You get to have a second chance, and I’ve been given a second chance,” said King, who has had a number of brushes with the law since 1992, but who has written a book to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the LA riots.
“I have much respect for (the police), much respect .. some of them went out of their way over the years to try to make it up to me. Not all of them is bad,” he added.