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LA Riot Deaths Haunted Rodney King

“Even now, I walk into a place wondering what people are thinking. Do they know who I am? What do they think about what happened? Do they blame me for the all those people who died?” So said Rodney King just a few months ago, in an interview with Kurt Streeter of the Los Angeles Times.

King, who was was found dead Sunday morning at his Rialto home, remained troubled by the ’92 riots. In light of King’s passing, Streeter recalled his time spent with the man:

When he talked about his life and all that had happened, it was clear that he cared deeply about others. He couldn’t let go of the fact that 54 people died in the 1992 upheaval that he ruefully noted were known as “the Rodney King riots.”

On a wall in his backyard pool he used black tile to inscribe the dates of both the beating and the riots: 3/31/91 and 4/29/92.

One day in March, I watched him sweeping leaves from the pool. He told me that he’d considered adding another inscription. He looked at the pool. “I thought of putting the number of people who died down there on the wall, the number 54,” he said. “But that would be too much. Just too much death.”

That was the same swimming pool where King was found dead on Sunday morning. He was 47.

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