It seems like an afterthought compared to the ugliness that’s happening in Baltimore and a bevy of contentious cases recently cracking wide open the divide between white cops and black citizens, but when all four Los Angeles police officers involved in the beating of Rodney King were acquitted on this day in 1992, all hell broke loose within a half an hour like never before, in LA and in pockets in cities across the nation for at least six, curfew-enacted days.
Many a song and lyric has been written about the destruction, deaths and socio-racial implications of one of the darkest hours in our judicial system, soundtracking both the tension leading up to the riots, the actual riots and their aftermath.
From Ice Cube‘s “Black Korea” — “do you like Rodney King, Martin Luther King, and all the other goddamn Kings from Africa!” — to Tom Petty‘s “Peace in LA” — “If the powers that be/Let evil go free/You must understand/Don’t play into their hand” — everybody had something to say about it, from virtually every race and every genre, punk to pop to country, rawk, etc.
Though if you were a nine-year-old, white upper-middle class suburbanite, like this editor, far removed from both record shop and SoCal, this is probably your connection, for bettor or worse, maybe realizing that Brad Nowell got the date wrong on the first verse, and later realizing it’s an allegory for Sublime‘s own misdirected hostility:
April 26th, 1992
There was a riot on the streets, tell me where were you?
You were sittin’ home watching’ your TV
While I was participatin’ in some anarchy