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Rodney, Riots & Resolutions
Aired April 25, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Welcome to the program.
Two decades ago, riots rocked Los Angeles after officers were acquitted in the Rodney King case.
Tonight, Rodney King himself looks back with me. What was he feeling? What does he feel now? How has he found forgiveness, and where are we as a country?
I`m on call for the hour, answering your questions and taking your comments.
So, let`s get started.
PINSKY: All right. Tonight, we`re talking to Rodney King and taking your calls. The 20-year anniversary of the Los Angeles riots is merely days away. The worst of human nature was on display after four Los Angeles police officer police officers charged with the beating of Rodney King were found not guilty. Of course, that incident was videotaped and seen around the world.
The verdict sparked widespread looting, arson and the senseless deaths of more than 50 Los Angeles residents. I recently sat down and spoke to the man at the very center of the storm, that, of course, is Rodney King.
And Rodney is somebody I have known for quite some time. I treated him on the program VH1 "Celebrity Rehab" and then "Sober House" for his alcoholism.
And make no mistake: Rodney King is a real serious alcoholic. His dad died of alcoholism. When he drinks, what you see in the beating tape, that was him on alcohol, that`s how he gets.
He`s been great in recovery. He`s great he`s around the fellowship and he is much better today.
Joining me to discuss all this is Marcia Clark. She is the former prosecutor from the O.J. Simpson trial. She knows a couple of things about controversial verdicts.
Marcia, take off your attorney hat for a second. Do you have or have you had any pre-conceived notion about who Rodney King is? Do you have any sense who he is or you just -- have you seen him in interviews or just watched that tape and drawn your own conclusions?
MARCIA CLARK, O.J. SIMPSON PROSECUTOR: You know, obviously, I was in the D.A.`s office when the case was being tried against the police officers. And we were prosecuting the police officers. I remember Rodney King as someone on a videotape. He became a symbol more than person so I never knew him.
PINSKY: Interesting. Well, he -- we have calls about this. I want to get right to calls here.
Helena in California, you had a question for us or comment? Go ahead.
HELENA, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: I do. Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Helena.
HELENA: I`m a black woman from Los Angeles and I was angry when the officers were found not guilty, but I was also angry at the riots. How do you think those riots affect the race relations in L.A.?
PINSKY: How do you think? Do you live in Los Angeles?
HELENA: I still do.
PINSKY: Do you still live in the sort of south central area? Or do you?
HELENA: Yes, pretty much.
PINSKY: How has it changed things? Are things better? Or things, did it --
HELENA: Well, things are better. When it happened, I recall, I was in high school at the time. It was devastating for me. It was -- a lot of tears, a lot of destruction, and seemed senseless to me at the time.
PINSKY: Well, I mean, but cooler heads have prevailed. I mean, most people did look at it as senseless at the time, and yet everyone kind of understood. It was kind of do you know what I mean?
HELENA: I agree.
PINSKY: Yes. So, Helena, I`m just glad to hear things are better. We`re going to be later in the program talk about Trayvon Martin and obviously things are better but we still have work to do. You know what I`m saying?
Wouldn`t you agree with that, Marcia?
CLARK: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
PINSKY: Well, I want to go to the footage of Rodney King in this interview, and take a good look at the beginning of the interview he and I had and we`ll then take some of your calls on the other side of this. Take a look.
RODNEY KING, BEATING VICTIM: I`m very happy and pleased to have made it alive through it all, you know? I`ve had some good people praying for me some good people all around the world just, you know, wishing me good luck and hoping that I get well. Some points (ph) I really can`t meet.
PINSKY: Let`s go back a little bit to that night, because I have -- as I sit and talk with you, I`m remembering. Let`s talk about the book first. Because I`m remembering -- when I read your book, "The Riot Within," you brought back a lot for me, too. In the back part of this book, you talk about "Celebrity Rehab" and our experiences together.
And I thank you for that. You were very kind in here.
But, you know, a big part of this book is that night and repercussions of that night.
PINSKY: You were just a regular citizen who got caught in something that no one could have ever predicted would have the kind of impact on history. You didn`t want to be a part of history.
KING: I wasn`t expecting to get tossed in history like that. You know, unfortunately it happened to us unexpectedly to some of us. And I was one of the unexpected ones to survive through it, you know?
I`m so happy it happened to me in this country in America. Had I been anywhere else, I probably would have been dead or, you know, hush-hush. I would have never been able to put out a book, you know, in a lot of cases because, you know, just the way race relations work, you know?
PINSKY: This is the Rodney King I know. You`re so forgiving and you`re so thoughtful and you`re so -- hard to imagine you don`t harbor resentments and anger and everyone expects you to have them. I`ve never been able to drag them out of you very much.
I mean, you -- we go back to that night. There are a couple of things that go back to that night as you described it to me, stay with me. One is really how bad the beating was. That video does not really -- does not really reflect how bad it was. Tell me about the injuries.
You told me about being lifted into the ambulance and thinking you were dead.
KING: Yes. I thought I was dead. They placed the sheet over my head and, you know, I just consistent believe I was dying, right in front of my eyes. I kept blowing the sheet of and the guy was saying, stop spitting on me, stop blowing blood on me. So, he threw the sheet over my head. I thought I was about to die in there.
PINSKY: Marcia, any surprises in there?
CLARK: Surprising the lack of anger. Surprising in actually how calm. I understand it`s been a long time. But, you know, seeing that footage gets me upset.
CLARK: So --
PINSKY: He`s so -- that`s a theme you will hear tonight, he is so full of forgiveness, I think people will be shocked.
He -- I`ll tell you, one part he did tell me thing that bothered him, there were two African-American policemen that stood down at the beginning at the beating, and he had a good deal of anger for them. He was sort of confuse and angry that they didn`t at least step up to try to help him in some fashion, and they ended up suing him. They had a civil action against him and won, I don`t know what it was, but they won $250,000.
Yes. Isn`t that wild? I don`t know what that was all about.
CLARK: I don`t know --
PINSKY: There`s the beating and all Caucasian and white officers primarily. There were two African-American officers watching and Rodney kept saying that`s the part he could never get over, he couldn`t never really let go of that.
Let`s take some more calls. I got Joey on the line in California.
Joey, go right ahead.
JOEY, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Joey.
JOEY: You know, I lived in southern California most of my life and the L.A. riots were scarier than any earthquake.
JOEY: It`s 20 years later and I still can`t seem to drive through the intersection of Florence and Normandy where Reginald Denny was beaten and I feel angry of myself. I feel like I`m holding on to resentment about the riots.
And I just want to know how do I let that go?
PINSKY: Are you an African-American man or a white man?
JOEY: No, I`m a white guy.
PINSKY: And you feel the kind of resentments against -- who you got resentful towards? There was so many people to be angry with here.
JOEY: Exactly. It`s not limited to anybody. It`s just the entire situation.
PINSKY: The situation.
JOEY: As much as I understand the anger and passion of it.
JOEY: But seeing my city destroyed, seeing everybody in turmoil. Seeing the race and stuff that was going on back and forth, it was -- you know, I didn`t grow up with that. I grew up where everybody was pretty much the same. I was the rare exception that I saw people equally, you know?
PINSKY: Yes. But, Joey, but if nothing else, this Trayvon Martin case brings up the fact there`s undercurrents, don`t you agree, Marcia? We have to stay vigilant. There`s an anger and hostility that`s still around. It`s still there. And it can bubble up in ways that we don`t expect. I didn`t understand what happened in L.A. with the verdicts.
You understand at the time. Did you feel sort of --
CLARK: I have to say when the verdict came out on Rodney King, this is one of those cases where a friend of mine was the prosecutor. He`s a great lawyer, great prosecutor. And I was thinking -- I was jealous of him saying, you`ve got a videotape, it was the proverbial legal joke in the community, you`ve practically got it on videotape.
These guys had it on videotape, actually had it on videotape. And we saw the videotape over and over again. I know people said it didn`t show the initial confrontation, that Rodney charged the officers and was threatening, blah, blah, blah. OK.
But there was a point he was down. They were still beating and kicking him. Why didn`t cooler heads prevail? Why didn`t somebody stop it?
I mean, black white or otherwise, it should have been stopped. So, it was inconceivable thing. And then to have a not guilty verdict -- I have to tell you, the whole office, the D.A.`s office, was just devastatingly shocked by that verdict. And so, when there were riots, the riots were shocking as a response.
CLARK: But the verdict was so shocking --
PINSKY: Equally as hocking.
You said the beating, you referred to the magnitude of the beating. His face was smashed in, needed surgery. Look at this. Needed surgery on his face, because his face was crushed in. He had massive head injuries, his jaw was broken and his arm was broken. I mean, he had massive injuries.
I mean, look at this. He`s trying to get away from this. I mean, any human would try to get away.
I want to go to another caller, Wendy Robinson, who was an actress. And she actually lived a block from the Florence and Normandy intersection that we`re talking about where Reginald Denny was beaten.
Now, Wendy, how are things now? How do you feel about this? What did you witness?
WENDY ROBINSON, ACTRESS (via telephone): Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Wendy.
ROBINSON: You know, it`s quite interesting now that we`re 20 years later and we reflect back, because at the time when I was growing up in that area and we`re still living there while things were happening, it was such a senseless reaction to the actual verdict that I experienced. I watched, you know, neighbors and, you know, the entire community just destroy their entire community.
And that`s what outraged me the most, almost more than the verdicts, because at the end of the day, you know, we had no supermarkets, we had no dry-cleaners and, even -- you know, even still today, there`s so many people that were not allowed to rebuild back in the community.
So, I still see that. I still see there`s still a few places that will never be opened unfortunately, you know? And those were businesses that had been in the community for years and years and years. You know, I`m 45 now. At the time, I was -- about 20 years ago, I was 25 and could still see the deterioration of our community is more upsetting.
PINSKY: I think, Wendy, your message is there might be more productive ways to express this anger than destroying your own community.
ROBINSON: I think it is. Yes, I saw so many teenagers and, you know, there were kids that were, you know, 10, 11, 12, just going berserk and looting and -- you know, just destroying things without probably even knowing the real meaning behind everything, as we look back.
PINSKY: I think you`re right, Wendy. I think cooler heads have prevailed recently with Trayvon Martin. I think that we`ve shown we can, you know, we can be -- express our outrage without becoming violent and make real change.
Marcia, sit by. We`re going to keep talking to you.
Wendy, thank you.
Next, more from my interview with Rodney King. And next details of this brutal beating, his thoughts also on the Trayvon Martin affair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I`ve been in Trayvon`s shoes when I was young at that age. It`s scary being black and growing up these days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Look closely at the beginning of this unedited version of the video. You can see King does try to get up and run. He appears to lift his arms before falling to the ground. Fifteen minutes of hell. He sustains more than 50 baton blows and shocks by a taser gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Twenty years ago, that videotape beating of Rodney King and the trial that followed sparked the worst rioting in Los Angeles history. I recently spoke to Rodney King and asked him how that beating became so brutal.
Take a look at this.
KING: When I tried to -- when I went to get up, I had no idea that, you know, when I hard we`re going to kill you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) run. Once I heard that, I felt --
PINSKY: You better run.
KING: There was more -- you better run for your life. And so, when I got up to run, I ran -- I threw my hands up in the air so I won`t have my hands next to my pocket and they tried to say in the court, of course, I was going for a gun, thought I was reaching for a gun. I was just trying to make sure they know my hands is nowhere near my pockets so it won`t look like I`m looking for a gun.
But real soon after that, I fell down because my leg was broken.
PINSKY: They just broke it with the baton?
KING: Yes, they broke it with the baton and fractured some ribs and multiple abrasions.
PINSKY: Crushed your face.
KING: Yes. And just caved in the eye socket real bad. The sinus area had a plate -- tie-in plate put in there. So, it was horrible. It was -- you know, the beating started maybe a minute or 45 seconds before the tape even started, you know. I was laying on the ground flat down doing everything they asked me to do.
But like I said, when you have a taser going through you at the same time and somebody telling you to be still and the taser stop and they start beating you and telling you to stay still again, and then they tell --
PINSKY: Then, they tell you they`re going to kill you.
KING: And then they start tasing you again. It`s a routine. You tase and then slow down and we`ll tell him to stay still, like they were used to this battle they`re fighting.
You know, it`s bad. You see one police officer do that, it makes it`s easier for the rookie guy to come in and his career start off the same way. So, you know, it`s important that we, you know, move in a direction to where it`s non-violence, you know?
I mean, I`m not saying get soft and get yourself killed out there, but you have to set example for the next generation. That`s what police force should always be about.
PINSKY: Now, another. I have an image in my head of that night again you describe to me of them getting the paraphernalia out of the trunk. Remember that?
PINSKY: And they were getting -- you thought -- they were telling you they were getting ready to kill you?
KING: Oh, yes.
PINSKY: Weren`t a couple of those cops African-American? Was that --
KING: Yes, that`s the saddest part about it, is because -- the sad -- it just hurt my heart, just sunk me -- you know, to find out the first two police officers that was on the scene that night were black. And, you know, for them to have not did nothing, made theirself present, you know, it`s just -- it`s a sad case. It`s a real sad case.
PINSKY: Former Los Angeles Prosecutor Marcia Clark is back with me. Her new book, "Guilt By Degrees" hits bookstores May 8th.
All right. Marcia, so I saw you cringing as you saw -- are you crying a little bit?
CLARK: No. That tape always makes me cringe. It did right from the start when we saw it, it all first happened, it was just painful -- so painful to watch. And I kept thinking, stop now, stop now. Stop now! It was amazing to me no one stopped it.
And the verdict is still a mind blower to me. So --
PINSKY: And you had a theory the reason the verdict is not guilty is because of the Simi Valley jury makeup?
CLARK: Yes, I think it was pretty clear. I saw the case prosecuted. They proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The videotape proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
But you had a jury that lived in semi Simi Valley, which was an enclave of many police officers who lived there, all white. There was a sense I think of family with these police officers. They had their neighbors, they had their friends, and their lovers, their -- everything, and I think there was a sense of loyalty to the police officers.
So when the defense were preaching to them they were justified, they had a reason and they dissected the videotape second by second showing a reason to believe Rodney was dangerous throughout the whole thing.
PINSKY: They bought that.
CLARK: They were willing to buy it.
PINSKY: They`re disposed to that.
I got a call from Trisha in California.
Trisha, go right ahead.
TRISHA, CALLER FROM CALIFORNAI: Hi, Dr. Drew and Mr. King. I`m so sorry for the horrible beating that you took.
I`m wondering if you suffer from post traumatic stress disorder after the horrendous beating and I have also family members who are police, and they even thought after seeing the tape, when are they going to stop, the guy`s down?
PINSKY: This was Marcia`s reaction, too, Trish, that, you know what, please stop. Please stop. And they kept going and going and going.
Rodney is not actually in the studio with us, Trish. I interviewed him a couple days ago. He does not seem to really have post-traumatic stress disorder. He can talk about the beating in very dispassionate way, in a very calm way. He doesn`t revivify the experience for him in any way. He doesn`t have an emotional reaction.
And he attributes this to his faith and his sense of forgiveness. He really doesn`t harbor much resentment.
But I got to go to a break. Thank you for the call, Trish.
Next, Rodney King weighs in on Trayvon Martin and the plight of black African-American men in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Blood was just gushing down the street. Death -- death wasn`t far away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: That is footage of myself and Rodney King at the site today where he was beaten in 1992. The officers of the Los Angeles Police Department were acquitted of that beating. Rodney King, the outrage over the controversial verdict sparked days of civil unrest throughout Los Angeles.
I recently asked King if he felt a kinship with Trayvon Martin, another African-American male whose tragic plight has, of course, triggered outrage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I have been on Trayvon`s shoes many times.
PINSKY: Tell me.
KING: I`ve been in Trayvon`s shoes when I was young at that age. It`s scary being black and growing up these days. When I was young and I was somewhere by myself, it was scary. I had to -- it was a different feeling for me. It`s like survival.
KING: It`s like, you know, you watch your back. But it`s hard to explain it. It`s a different feeling being black and growing up, and being black and being by yourself and growing up in the world is also another ballgame.
PINSKY: Is it better now?
KING: It`s definitely better. Things are definitely better. Good thing that, you know, this is America because things are always -- will always be getting better, you know, just based on our history and how our country was built. Things are definitely not like they used to be, and laws and things.
It`s a slow process, but we have came a long ways. We have to give ourselves credit for that, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: I thought that was rather profound what Rodney was saying there, yet he is taking grief for being compared, a comparison he doesn`t make, being compared to Trayvon Martin.
CLARK: Yes. You know, some people have said that he has compared himself to Trayvon Martin in some of these statements.
PINSKY: Here, he`s said I`ve been in his shoes when I was younger.
CLARK: That`s right.
PINSKY: It`s a very distinct thing.
CLARK: I agree with you. It really is a distinct thing. He`s not saying that night I was beaten, I was doing the same thing as Trayvon Martin. He`s not saying that.
What he`s saying is unarguable. You can`t argue with that. Growing up black in the United States is a different experience than growing up white. You can`t argue that that`s not true.
PINSKY: I think it`s becoming more vivid for people because of the conversations people are having about Trayvon Martin. And maybe this Rodney situation, revisiting 20 years later, will help that conversation along.
Alex, you got a question. You`re in California, Alex. Go right ahead.
ALEX, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: Thank you. Good afternoon, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Alex.
ALEX: I`m wondering what do you think societal emotions or what is the boiling point that gets us to the point we see these huge upheavals like riots and things like that.
PINSKY: Yes, you`re asking a very complicated question. Marcia, you may have a point of view on this, too.
I mean, you know, people will talk about unemployment. People will talk about injustices. People will talk about too many young men just unemployed. People will talk about hostility and aggression.
Personally, my personal opinion, is this particular case is the working through -- as Rodney basically said here in that interview, 200 years, it`s going to take us 200 years to work through the scar, the injury of slavery. I think that`s what this is -- this is the working through process.
CLARK: Yes, I think it`s true. I mean, there`s a way in which an event like the verdict in the Rodney King case kind of focuses a lot of emotions that have been swirling around for a long time. Back then, there was no community policing. There wasn`t us versus them siege mentality among the police and all of the unrest and the feelings about unfairness of society and the economy --
PINSKY: Came rushing forward.
CLARK: -- came rushing together at the same time.
PINSKY: There you go.
I have to take another break, Marcia. By the way, I`m done with you for you today. Thank you for joining me.
CLARK: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
PINSKY: I do appreciate it. It`s been very interesting.
CLARK: Always a pleasure.
PINSKY: Next up, did Rodney King expect the not guilty verdict? I`m taking your calls and questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Coming up, the worst rioting in L.A. history erupted two decades ago with two words --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not guilty of the crime --
PINSKY: "Not guilty." The victim at the center of the case talks about the riots, the pain, and the parallels both to the 1960s and to today. Is Trayvon Martin this generation`s Rodney King?
Plus, my take, your calls, questions and reactions on Facebook straight ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We, the jury in the above entitled action, find the defendant, Theodore Briseno, not guilty of the crime of officer unnecessary assaulting or beating any person. Timothy E. Wind, not guilty, Stacey C. Koon, not guilty, Laurence M. Powell, not guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): Not guilty verdicts in the case of four Los Angeles police officers charged with beating Rodney King. It set off days of frightening civil unrest in this city, and I asked Rodney if he was surprised by the verdicts? Take a look.
RODNEY KING, BEATING VICTIM: Yes. I was surprised, shocked, angry. Yes, angry, too. More so hurt, though.
KING: Because of -- I`ve seen so many -- seen marches and stuff like that on TV.
PINSKY: You`re talking about the civil rights march?
PINSKY: The 1960s?
KING: Yes, the 1960s. To be in the 1990s and see -- and feel what they were feeling, it was a -- it was like, whoa, this is what they experienced? It must have been tough to live back then, had to be a lot tougher than it was now, so --
PINSKY: There`s something really powerful in what you`re saying. So, you`re saying, in that moment, I don`t want to put words in your mouth, what I think I hear you saying that`s giving me chills, frankly, is that in that moment, you felt the generational burden that Martin Luther King and his father must have felt in the 1960s. All of a sudden, here, it was again on your shoulders.
KING: Oh, yes. Yes. It wasn`t -- I mean, yes. It was the same thing because I had a chance to experience it firsthand with the cops, with the beating, with the not guilty verdict, and with that -- if you`d have stayed home, it wouldn`t have happened that night, you know? Just that -- always under the eye watch, under -- I mean your own punishment type of feeling.
PINSKY: So, we`re now, of course, following developments of the Trayvon Martin case. And we have talked a little bit about that. I want to play for you -- I`m interested in what you have to say about this, I really am, because you`ve taught me a thing or two. And I want to play for you a bit of George Zimmerman`s 911 call and have you react to it. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ACCUSED OF KILLING TRAYVON MARTIN: This guy looks like he`s up to no good or he`s on drugs or something. It`s raining and he`s just walking around, looking about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. This guy, is he Black, White, or Hispanic?
ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he look hurt to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t see him. I don`t want to go out there. I don`t know what`s going on. So, they`re sending --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you think he`s yelling help?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Rodney, when you hear those cries for help, what do you think?
KING: I can relate to the cries because it was the same screaming, the same screaming sound that I had 20 years ago, you know, with the police beating. And, it sounds so familiar, you know, that hate, that scary sound, you know, that I hear myself in there, you know, when I hear that kid scream like that, baby is what it was.
PINSKY: You`re convinced that`s Trayvon?
KING: Yes. I`m convinced it`s Trayvon. I don`t want to jump to a conclusion again, but I just -- that`s a sad cry. It`s a touchy one. I feel the pain in that one. I was firsthand feeling it. Unfortunately, Trayvon didn`t survive through a hate crime like this. And -- but it brings back memories. Hopefully --
PINSKY: What are you flashing on?
KING: Just the pain, the suffering he went through and the racial profile, in part, you know, is the hurting part to me, because that`s basically what it is, of a kid in a hoody.
PINSKY: Robert Tur, he was a helicopter reporter in Los Angeles and witnessed the destruction firsthand. Did you have any idea the verdicts would incite all this?
ROBERT TUR, HELICOPTER PILOT: Absolutely.
PINSKY: You felt it coming?
TUR: Oh, yes. I went down to South Central Los Angeles in the weeks before the verdicts. And I talked to gang members, I talked to ministers, I talked to cops. And I said what`s going to happen? In no uncertain terms, I was told by everybody, there`d be violence. And the cops told me it would start at a liquor store. And so, I went to a liquor store, hovered over Florence enormity, and the rest is history.
PINSKY: And then, we watched the Reginald Denny beating before you.
PINSKY: Did you have some ambivalence about reporting that in retrospect or even that day?
TUR: No. What I saw was horrifying. And you could actually hear at my voice as I was televising this imagery. I was a savage beating.
PINSKY: I believe it`s -- let`s put it Christie (ph) behind me if you, guys, wouldn`t mind while Robert talks about it. There it is there. That`s actually your footage. Go ahead. It was a savage beating.
TUR: A terrible, terrible sight to see this man beaten viciously by gang members. And at the time, I realized it was the book end to the Rodney King beating where we had White police officers beating a Black man viciously, and here, we had gang members, Black men, beating a White man viciously. And, again, just horrifying. And there was nothing you can do being in a helicopter to stop it.
PINSKY: Is it interesting to you at all that the men that were being beaten, which is Reginald Denny and Rodney King, both were very forgiving to their perpetrators? They both were.
TUR: I was shocked?
PINSKY: They both were.
TUR: I know. I understand.
PINSKY: Very interesting. I don`t know what that means, but it`s kind of interesting to me. The people that got beaten are people bigger than the event in a way. I mean, they were bigger men than the event.
TUR: With Rodney King, I was very impressed during the L.A. riots. He actually held a press conference, and he pled for, you know, people to calm down.
TUR: Please, can`t we all get along? And to do that after what this man experienced said a lot about Rodney King.
PINSKY: I asked him about that, too, during the interview.
Julian in Arizona, what`s your question?
JULIAN, ARIZONA: Hello, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Julian.
JULIAN: I love your show.
PINSKY: Thank you, buddy.
JULIAN: God bless you, Mr. King. Question is, after 20 years since that shameful incident in our American history --
JULIAN: What strives have we, as a nation, made since that time?
PINSKY: I want to know what you think. What do you think we`ve done as a nation? Rodney thinks we`re better. Rodney thinks we`re better.
JULIAN: We`ve made some positive strides. I mean, number one, it`s pretty clear. We have a Black -- African-American in the White House.
PINSKY: No one has brought that up, the whole long conversation about that day. Great point, Julian.
JULIAN: Yes. And my second part of the question real quick is, do you think that a similar reaction like the riots in L.A. could happen in Florida if George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin`s alleged killer, is set free.
PINSKY: Great question --
TUR: Absolutely. Of course. And so, you`re seeing the same ingredients in Sanford, Florida. You have a prosecution that fears Black people. They, instead of talking about this case and -- they passed it on to a jury and they overcharged Mr. Zimmerman, who clearly killed, murdered, in my opinion, Trayvon Martin.
But to charge him the way they`ve charged him, it`s going to be very difficult to get a guilty verdict, and you`re inciting the population. You`re going to get people very, very angry, so the same ingredients are right there.
PINSKY: I think Constance has a comment on that very issue what`s going in Sanford. Go ahead, Constance, in Florida.
CONSTANCE, FLORIDA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
CONSTANCE: Yes. I don`t think what happened to Rodney King, I don`t think that was fair, and violence does not solve anything.
CONSTANCE: What kind of impact do you think that Rodney would have on easing racial tensions in Sanford community I just live close by?
PINSKY: So, you think that if Rodney spoke out much the way he plead back in 1992 that, please, let`s all get along, do you think that might have an impact on that community? Do you?
CONSTANCE: I think it would. I think a lot of people are afraid of the Black Panther issue. I think that`s coming up a lot. I think the tension is still really high here, and it`s very sad.
PINSKY: Well, I will try to contact Rodney and see if he can --
TUR: All dialogue is positive.
PINSKY: Well, this -- the fact that we`re having these conversations about this, I think, is positive, right? This is the working through process. This is what we have to do.
TUR: You have to do this. It`s very important, and it will save lives.
PINSKY: Robert, thank you for joining me. I do appreciate it.
TUR: Any time, sir.
PINSKY: We are going to continue looking at the interview with Rodney King. We`re going to get his reaction to the rioting, of course, and also, the acquittals.
And I`m going to bring back the "Sober House," housemother, Jennifer Gimenez, who was with Rodney quite some time, get her comments, as well. So, stay with us.
PINSKY: Barely an hour after the jury returned "not guilty" verdicts in the Rodney King beating case, all hell broke loose on the streets of Los Angeles. It became one of the nation`s bloodiest riots. And during my interview with Rodney, I asked him what effect the riots had on him at the time. Take a look at this.
PINSKY: The four LAPD officers that were acquitted on charges of using excessive force, subsequent to that, as you well know, the city then exploded into violence. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s going to happen tonight is going to happen tonight. We got to do what we`ve got to do to get justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no justice for the black man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No justice -- shut the city down!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A black man didn`t do this! The police did this!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was chaos. It was going down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Rodney, did this surprise you?
PINSKY: Or you thought there could be some of this -- did you feel the same? Did you wish you could go out and --
KING: There were like two sides of me, Dr. Drew. One side of me was really hurt and just sad for my country, you know, sad to be American that day, you know? I`m very proud of my country and love America, and I wouldn`t want to have been born nowhere else, you know, but it was like, gosh, isn`t there a different way that we can, you know, go about this?
You know, apparently at the time, there wasn`t, you know? Things happened. I`m not saying or justifying any of the riots or nothing like that. But people were at a breaking point and they just didn`t know what else to do, who to turn to no more, you know? They kind of forgot about prayer and that kind of went out the other ear, you know?
PINSKY: You stood up and said some words that had a historical impact, frankly, it was very powerful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it -- making it horrible for the older people and the kids?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Did you think of those words, can`t we all just get along before you said them? Were they something you planned to say or were they just spontaneous?
KING: No. They gave me something they wanted me to read, but I just -- I said I`m not reading all that. I just came from what was in my heart.
PINSKY: That`s what it seemed like.
KING: Yes. It turns out.
PINSKY: I want to share with the viewers some history that people aren`t aware of, if you don`t mind me, about your dad.
PINSKY: Your dad had alcoholism.
PINSKY: The same thing you had to struggle with.
PINSKY: You guys shared that.
PINSKY: And it got bad for him.
KING: Yes. It got real bad.
PINSKY: He died of alcoholism.
PINSKY: The other thing people don`t know, I think I`m right on this, one of your favorite things was fishing with your dad.
KING: Oh, yes.
PINSKY: Your daughters love fishing with you, too. I know that. You`ve got to take them fishing more.
PINSKY: I know that. Even though they`re grown women, they still want to fish with dad.
KING: Fishing and picking greens.
PINSKY: And one of the places you would go with him was the spot where you were beaten. You were trying to get to that area that you knew - - that you`d just been with your dad many times. Is that where you went fishing with him even?
KING: That`s where -- that was his spot, one of his mud hole spots, he called it. That was Hanson Dam. And I`ve been there many times with him. In fact, when I left from Pasadena that night, that`s where we were headed straight out to Hanson Dam. Yes.
PINSKY: It`s a big important spot for you. A lot of important things happened. Who knew it would be this?
KING: I`ve seen some nice days out there at that park years ago.
PINSKY: Now, you and I went there, we visited that spot. You showed me where the videotape was recorded from. It was a very powerful thing to be with you there.
PINSKY: Yes. It was. That footage you`re seeing is he and I driving out to the spot. And of course, he was, at that time, a participant in the VH1 program, "Sober House." He and I went out to the site where he was beaten. And on that site now is an unfinished children`s museum.
Irony of ironies. And you can still see the apartment building from which the videotape was taken. But, I went to that spot. Let`s take a look at this, where he and I visited that place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I need to forgive the officers who beat me the way that they did because being angry with them is not helping me, which it`s not. The police officers that did that to me must have personal problems, and all I can do is forgive them and put them in my prayers.
I brought some flowers here and I brought a bible with me, you know? I`d like to leave this here today. In memories of 56 people who died in the riots, you know, in 92, you know, and just, you know, pray for world peace period, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Joining me now is Jennifer Gimenez. She was involved in the management of sober living facility, Sober House, while Rodney was there. And this is the Rodney we know. Here he is, talking about forgiveness which he already had found in his heart for those police officers and his real concern was for the 50 people that have died in the rioting. I mean, you were tearing up seeing him talk about -- we just love this guy, right?
JENNIFER GIMENEZ, ON "SOBER HOUSE" WITH RODNEY KING: Yes. This is one of the most kindhearted, compassionate, forgiving man I`ve ever met. I mean, he`s such a historical figure and to see that, you know, he has so much forgiveness inside of him.
Like, I would ask him during "Sober House," I`m like, seriously, there has to be a little ounce of hatred? No, I feel bad for them. I feel bad for our nation. And, you know, like he said in your interview is that he kept saying things like that.
PINSKY: And those guys, the cops that were involved in the beating, really, they had to change their lives, they had to leave, they had to hideout. I mean, everyone`s life was profoundly affected by that night. But I want to talk to someone who`s in the house with you guys at the time. Nikki McKibbin, she was a resident there when Rodney was a resident. Nikki, are you there?
NIKKI MCKIBBIN, FORMER SUBSTANCE ABUSER: I`m here.
PINSKY: Hi, Nikki. I`m here with Jennifer Gimenez. Thanks for joining us.
GIMENEZ: Hi, baby.
PINSKY: Any impressions you call about Rodney? Any thoughts?
MCKIBBIN: You know, it was funny because earlier, I was just thinking about the same thing that Jennifer just said, I just -- I remember, you know, in rehab, Rodney was pretty closed off and kind of kept to himself, but when we got to the "Sober House," he was just so forgiving, and it shocked me.
I mean, like I learned a great deal about how to be a more compassionate and forgiving person because of Rodney to think that he could endure what he had, you know, endured and be that forgiving and feel sorry for those police officers, you know, and the riots that ensued afterwards, and you know, keep them in his prayers.
PINSKY: And I remember, Nikki, real quick, you had not seen the tape of the beating until after you knew Rodney, right?
PINSKY: You`re sort of seeing that all again now. How do you feel about that when you look at that tape now?
MCKIBBIN: Oh, man! You know, I was a teenager, so just hearing about it was overwhelming for me, and I didn`t want to watch it. I didn`t want to see something that brutal and just disgusting, honestly.
GIMENEZ: I feel like this is such a great example of somebody who`s had extremely traumatic experiences his whole entire life and showing that you can, you know, move forward.
PINSKY: You can indeed. And even in the face of being re-traumatized in adulthood, you don`t have to re-evoke the past.
Thank you, Nikki, for joining us.
Coming up, I`m going to Rodney about his recovery and how he`s doing today, so stay with us.
PINSKY: Jennifer and I have gotten to know Rodney King over the last few years, and as I told you earlier, had the opportunity to work with him on his alcoholism. Here, I talk with him about sobriety. Take a look.
KING: You know, I`m really comfortable with myself these days.
PINSKY: I can tell.
KING: So, I don`t drink like I used to, you know?
PINSKY: You run the program a little bit?
KING: A little, you know?
PINSKY: You`re great around recovering people.
PINSKY: You`re really good. They love you and you love them.
KING: Oh, yes, definitely. Definitely. I`ll always, you know, be close to the foundation. But I`m really comfortable with myself these days. And, you know, I`ve put a lot of -- I`ve had a lot of doctors and psychologists I`ve talked to. I`ve learned a lot. I`ve learned a lot over the years on the effects that alcohol have on the body and that`s what has kept me --
PINSKY: You saw it firsthand with your dad, too.
KING: Yes. Yes. And watching my dad, his life just leave at him at the age of 40, 42. So, I`ve seen a -- I`ve seen a -- I`ve had my number of alcoholics in the family and a sight of them.
PINSKY: I want to get to some calls before we finish up. Justin in Vermont, go right ahead.
JUSTIN, VERMONT: Hey, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Justin.
JUSTIN: Hi. Being a former addict myself, I`m just curious if that traumatic event with Rodney, if that pushed his alcoholism into overdrive and really set him off --
PINSKY: It`s a great question, Justin. And as often what happens is trauma is what incites addiction to an extreme extent. I always tell people if they have bad enough addiction, they need to see me, they had trauma.
PINSKY: But I`m not sure -- what do you think?
GIMENEZ: I feel that it`s a disease, and he was born with it. I think it just --
PINSKY: But did it put a rock fuel (ph) behind his alcoholism after the beating?
GIMENEZ: He had more reason to. I think he was finally starting to - - he didn`t know how to handle it or cope, you know, and he had no coping skills.
PINSKY: So, you see it as something that accelerated his alcoholism?
PINSKY: He was pretty bad before the beating. And that night, the beating was, in fact, part of his alcoholism. And he was -- -- people think he was on PCP that night. The stage manager here, we`re (ph) looking at over there, believed -- was convinced, a lot of the country thought he was on PCP that night.
That is just him on alcohol. That`s how bad alcoholism can get. All those bad choices he made that night were because of alcoholism.
GIMENEZ: I think what happened to him with the beating and all that, it also allowed him to hit bottom, you know, where he was coming to the recovery center wanting to get help, you know? I remember I heard that he was there.
PINSKY: He was trying. Yes. He`s been trying. He`s been in the program in and out for quite some time. He does well in it. Eric in Missouri, Eric, real quick, Eric. We got time for your one last call. Go ahead.
ERIC, MISSOURI: Yes. I was wondering why all this beating was going on and everything, the harm of them doing it, all the beating on him and the other cops just watching him beat him like they did and no one stepped out to try to stop it in any kind of way and the other question was, why were they beating him like that and he was unharmed?
PINSKY: He was not unharmed, Eric. He was severely harmed. He still has lot of metal in his face. He had some very significant head injury. He had limbs that were broken, his leg was broken. His arm, I think, was broke, as well. So, the question of why they were beating him so long, have you heard Marcia Clark (ph) earlier, that`s what her question, why didn`t they stop? Why didn`t they stop?
GIMENEZ: And there`s --
GIMENEZ: -- that they didn`t show the video.
PINSKY: Forty-five seconds before hand where it really started going. And you know, Rodney is a scary guy when he drinks, but he did not deserve that.
Thank you, Jennifer for joining us, hope you get in touch with us and see Rodney and support him. Thanks to all for watching, and I will see you next time.