The reminder of police brutality couldn’t be clearer, the timing couldn’t be more creepy: as many New Yorkers prepare to join the NAACP’s Silent March to End Stop and Frisk, Rodney King was declared dead.
King, arguably the most famous American victim of police brutality, has had a very difficult time in the more than two decades since the Los Angeles Riots, which were triggered after a jury failed to convict the officers who’d beaten him on camera. His Sunset Boulevard like death, reportedly at the bottom of a swimming pool, has endless allegorical meaning to his life in Los Angeles, Hollywood’s history of broken dreams, and to King’s troubled attempts at the periphery of celebrity and money to stay clean and sober.
Interestingly, today’s march will be silent, and so we can’t imagine King’s death is going to cause any riots or even much more sound. Most of the signs have already been printed.
But the timing of King’s death does something important to the march, largely lost in the media the past week.
Although the march is to end stop and frisk, it is also, as NAACP Executive Director Ben Jealous said at the Stonewall Inn press conference last week, a national march against police profiling. Jealous made the event sound equally inspired by the death of Trayvon Martin as by the NYPD. In fact, it’s only the second time the NAACP has had a silent march. The last time was in 1917, to protest lynching.
Today’s march is against stop and frisk, but it’s also against police profiling. Trayvon Martin’s father (who joined Ramarley Graham’s father in a pre-march event last night) and Rodney King can attest that, harsh as stop and frisk may seem, New York City does not have a monopoly on police profiling. It’s a national, generations long issue.
In any event, we’re off to Fifth Avenue and 110th Street to report on whatever happens. Follow us on Twitter for reports as events unfold.