Missouri state Rep. Barry Hovis, a Republican and a former police officer, generated outrage when he claimed during a legislative session that the brutal police beating of Rodney King that kicked off the 1991 Los Angeles riots, actually taught Black people that they should go out of their way to get assaulted by police in the hope of getting a civil payout.
The speech, delivered on the final day of Missouri's legislative session and at the end of National Police Week, was flagged by the Riverfront Times.
'"Back when I was in law enforcement, they had the Rodney King incident,' Hovis said," reported Rosalind Early. "Hovis didn't get into the brutality of the incident. Instead, he suggested King was impaired. 'Obviously, I think Mr. King at that time was under the influence of drugs' — and in the 'fog of his brain,' didn't understand the commands given by officers."
"Not even three, four weeks after that verdict was handed down on the officers... I was working midnight shift, and we had a bullpen in our jail. And we didn't have cameras in there, but we had audio devices. ... And there were six guys in the bullpen, a couple of them that I knew, and they were talking about the Rodney King incident," Hovis continued, according to the report. "All of them said, 'I'd take a butt whooping for a few million dollars.' And then they started talking about which officers they thought had the shortest temper that they could actually entice into assaulting them. ... They were planning and thinking, 'How can I become a millionaire?'"
King, who was beaten nearly to within an inch of his life, was ultimately awarded $3.8 million in a civil suit. Since that incident, numerous other police brutality incidents around the country have become public, with many of the victims dying.
One of the most famous was George Floyd, who was killed after former Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department kneeled on his neck for nine minutes. Chauvin was ultimately convicted of murder, and several other officers on the scene were buried in state and federal charges for failing to intervene to save Floyd's life. That incident triggered nationwide protests and debates in governments around the country about police oversight and accountability.
"I just felt like that was wholly unnecessary and even unprofessional," said Rep. Jamie Johnson to the Riverfront Times over the speech. "And it's just a testament to how we continue to say things that don't matter, do things that are harmful to people for no other reason than being hateful, being spiteful, and being ugly. We do appreciate law enforcement, but we can do that without disparaging others, individually or collectively."
Watch the speech below or at the following link:
Barry Hovis (R-Whitewater) speaks about Rodney King on the Missouri House Floor youtu.be