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According to this NBC News story, the Los Angeles Police Department’s response to riots in the past could be “a blueprint” for what is yet to come after the incidents in Ferguson, Missouri.
Specifically, the Rodney King riots 22 years ago, when four LAPD officers beat King yet were acquitted of assault and the city of Los Angeles rioted as a result. Fifty-three lives had been claimed by the time the dust settled.
Though it is recognized that the two police departments are very different, the events and unrest are similar in nature.
Civil rights attorney Connie Rice sees echoes of the LAPD’s failures back then in Ferguson today.
“Now these officers (in Ferguson) have lost all validity and all ability to persuade this population to comply with the law or with their commands,” she told NBC News. “And once you reach that point of no return, you have to take drastic action. You have to start over, and fast.”
Journalist Lou Cannon, a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News and Washington Post added, “”The whole thing was a wake-up call for police departments across the country.
“When these things happened, they had an inevitable impact on other police departments who didn’t want to go through that. The thought was, ‘If it can happen to the LAPD, it can happen to us, to any police department in America.'”
And similarly to the investigation by the federal government into the LAPD, Ferguson’s police department will also be under investigation.
According to a statement released Thursday, however, the department welcomes it.
“Over the past few weeks we have hosted and participated in several meetings with the Department of Justice and feel our collaborative efforts are another step forward in showing our willingness to be transparent and forthright as we continue the process of earning back the trust of our residents and our neighbors in the St. Louis region,” the statement said.
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