Watching the horrific video of Tire Nichols being kicked and punched by police officers has brought many minds in America back to images of another black man beaten in similar circumstances more than 30 years ago. .
Rodney King’s video is grainy and shaky, before the era of body cameras and police-worn cellphones.
It was filmed, by chance, by a plumber who had bought a new camcorder to film his friend running a marathon but happened to witness Mr King from his apartment window being attacked by officers.
Mr. King had also been arrested in his car, in Los Angeles, and beaten mercilessly. Video of his attack was picked up by local and then national television stations and played on television for days.
It was the first time America had been forced to face such savagery from its living room, the brutalization of a black man by those who had sworn to protect him.
Mr King survived the beatings, but video of the fatal assault on Nichols tire has painful parallels, felt particularly keenly by Mr. King’s family.
“People wonder where the anger comes from, that’s where if you see someone over and over again, who looks like you, your father, your brother, how would you feel? It’s a pattern and we we’re still here,” her daughter said. , Lora Dene King, told NBC News after watching police released footage of Nichols,
The video and subsequent acquittal of four Los Angeles police officers who had been criminally charged in Mr King’s assault sparked violent protests in Los Angeles and beyond.
There was, for the first time, very clear video evidence to confirm the lived experience and discrimination of black communities by police and people were demanding change.
Black deaths at the hands of law enforcement are now more often captured by cellphone cameras or with police body cameras.
There is a strong sense of police responsibility, but Ms Dene King thinks reform still has a long way to go.
“I hope no one has to explain this to their children. I hope one day we can look back and realize how ignorant we were. We’re from here, we live here, we should be working together to make sure that never happens. it looks like there’s no change except for the hashtag with a clear video,” she said.
America continues to struggle with its policing problem, and death at the hands of law enforcement is a shocking routine.
Tire Nichols’ mum says she’s ‘not going to stop’ until those responsible are brought to justice
Outrage as video shows Tire Nichols beaten by officers before his death
How the violent arrest of Tire Nichols unfolded
Last year, 1,123 people were killed by police in the United States, making it one of the deadliest years on record for police violence, according to figures from the nonprofit research group Mapping. Police Violence.
These figures suggest that on average more than three people a day are killed, and black people are almost three times more likely to be killed by police than white people.
In 2014, Michael Brownan unarmed black teenager from Ferguson, Missouri, was shot dead by a white police officer who has not been charged.
In 2020, Breonna Taylora medical worker, was shot dead by officers in a failed raid on her apartment.
There’s a series of other high-profile tragedies, but that was the murder of George Floyd by a policeman Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis which relaunched the Black Lives Matter movement and provoked an explosive wave of protests.
Public attention has sharpened on a system infected with violence and discrimination, leading to the rush of police reform laws in the months following Mr Floyd’s death.
Body camera footage is now more regularly made public, whether exculpating officers or damning them as in the case of Tire Nichols.
Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton said the beating of Mr Nichols was racially motivated, even though the five officers charged with his murder are also black.
He said: “Those black guys thought they could get away with doing it to a black guy. You know you couldn’t get away with doing that in Tennessee to a white guy. You’ll find out you don’t get away with doing it to a black guy.”
America is still demanding change and protests continue in cities across the country. But the swift indictment of the officers involved in the Tire Nichols beating and the transparency around the video may have encouraged them to remain peaceful and confident that justice is on the way.