Former Rodney King attorney reacts to Chauvin verdict

Race in America

(NewsNation Now) — For some, the on-camera death of George Floyd at the hands of Derek Chauvin evokes memories of the 1991 police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles.

King was beaten by four officers while others stood by and watched. Those four officers were tried but acquitted on assault charges. Following the verdict, riots exploded across Los Angeles. King himself called for calm in a now-famous quote where, through a quivering voice, asked “Can we all get along?”

Riots continued for several days after King’s plea. There were 50 riot-related deaths, approximately 6,000 arrests, and more 1,000 businesses were damaged.

John Burris, a former attorney for Rodney King, wondered if history would repeat itself.

“Frankly, I was worried that we could have a Rodney King second in the works because I was really concerned about the demonization of George Floyd by the defense council,” said Burris.

He says there are aspects of the Floyd case that are similar to King’s case, and many that aren’t. The most significant difference, he believes: a 30-year difference.

“At the time the Rodney King case took place, people had not seen that kind of level of brutality and police to engage in that conduct,” said Burris. “But since Rodney King, there’s been time. There’s been many, many examples of this kind of brutality. So George Floyd was something the general population had a better feel for — and not as  willing to reject it as they were in Rodney King’s case.”

Watch the full NewsNation interview with John Burris in the player above.

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