On Sunday April 23, 2017, I had the opportunity to attend the early screening of the National Geographic Documentary Film LA92, courtesy of an invitation from the Harvey B Gantt Center of Charlotte, North Carolina. We were able to view this documentary at Studio Movie and Grill, dope experience, met many great bloggers and entrepreneurs there that evening. The documentary is highly important because it’s based on the 1992 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, California from eye witness accounts during those times, along with other events and tragedies that happened and often times go overlooked. LA92 is produced by two – time Oscar winner Simon Chinn and Emmy winner Jonathan Chinn. Simon Chinn is also known for Man on Wire, and Jonathan for American High. is directed by Oscar winners Dan Lindsey and TJ Martin who is also known for Undefeated.
The reason I am bringing up this as a topic again for 2018, even though it was shown in 2017, is because of the recent reporting of police violence still going on right now.
1,129 people were killed by the police in 2017. 92% were killed by police shootings.
– Police Violence Report
LA92’s importance stems from its ability to show how the assault that Rodney King was a victim of shaped how racism was viewed in the United States through the media, along with police brutality among minorities actually being visible for everyone to see. This was one of the first times video evidence actually gave a view of what really happened for the pubic to see for themselves. People were able to actually see what happened versus just relying on the reports word of mouth from the media.
While watching this film, I realized that many of the events that were happening during our time now all over the United States are really almost identical to those that happened during 1992 in Los Angeles. “Race relations is America’s Achilles heel,” said Lightbox producers Jonathan Chinn and Simon Chinn.
“The production of this film might mark the 25th anniversary of this seminal uprising, but these kind of events still recur, and we are still dealing with their root causes. Our goal with LA 92 is to reframe the story of this tragedy for a modern audience, and we hope it will encourage reflection and debate as we wrestle with these very real conflicts that continue to plague America’s cities.”
LaTasha Harlins case hit home and came as a surprise for me because we truly were not told of this incident during my years in school. 15 year old Harlins was accused of stealing orange juice from a store in November of 1991. This happened right after the Rodney King beating in October of 1991, so much of its television coverage was overshadowed a bit…..or at least attempted to be overshadowed by the press but of course the citizens of the same neighborhood always demanded more answers as to what exactly happened. Turns out, the Korean female store clerk pulled out a gun and shot Harlins at point blank range killing her. The store owner, originally from South Korea, was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter by a jury of her peers, but the case quickly took a completely different and unfair turn when the judge on the case overturned the conviction. Even with actual film from the day of the incident showing where the store owner shot the African American female high school student in the back of the head as she walked away from the store owner, the judge did not see this as a reason to place Soon Da Ju, the store owner, in jail for the rest of her life. Instead of the 16 year prison sentence recommend by the jury themselves, was rejected by Judge Joyce Karlin. She instead sentenced Soon Da Ju to a $500 fine, 5 years of probation, and 400 hours of community service in the murder of LaTasha Harlins. You may remember, a similar incident has happened like this before in 2017 in Charlotte, NC where again another Korean store owner accused another African American female of stealing from his hair store right off of Wilkinson Boulevard. We all watched the actual video coverage on the news about a month ago now, where this young lady was attacked for simply walking around this man’s store with merchandise….simply shopping for herself. He ended up literally attacking her. Fighting her with no proof that she was stealing because of course she never left the store…..she was simply a paying customer still shopping for her merchandise before walking up to the counter to pay. These two incidents and tragedies happened while the customers were still inside of the stores. You can only be considered shoplifting if you walk out of the store with items you have not purchased, if you’re still in the store holding merchandise in plain view, you are simply still shopping.
The Introduction of Tasers
LA92 touched on the use of tasers as well. During the time of Rodney King’s assault, tasers were first hitting the scene heavy with police. Unfortunately though, back then, many didn’t know about them until many of the police chose to use them on them. There were many protests about these devices due to improper training with them, improper usage of them, and not enough safety concern on the usage of them.
“It’s like they had a little toy and they wanted to see how it worked.” – Rodney King
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Police Violence Report
Harvey B Gantt Center
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