US & Canada

Los Angeles riots: Rodney King funeral held

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Media captionRev Al Sharpton: "He turned the tide and tried to call the country to a better place"

The funeral has taken place in Los Angeles of Rodney King, whose beating by white policemen led to deadly riots in the US city 20 years ago.

At the service, King was praised for showing no bitterness to the officers who beat him in 1991.

The officers involved in the beating were acquitted the following year, sparking clashes in which 50 died.

King was found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool last month at the age of 47. There was no sign of foul play.

'Symbol of forgiveness'

The funeral service was held at Los Angeles' Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills on Saturday.

"People should not be judged by the mistakes that they make, but by how they rise above them," Rev Al Sharpton said.

"Rodney had risen above his mistakes. He never mocked anyone - not the police, not the justice system, not anyone."

Mr King's famous words during the riots "Can we all get along?" were embroidered on the lid of the coffin, next to his portrait.

"He became a symbol of forgiveness," Rev Sharpton said.

Image caption Rodney King remains a controversial figure in Los Angeles

A number of donors helped to pay for the funeral.

LAPD racism

Rodney King's beating at the hands of the police, which left him with brain damage, was filmed by a bystander and shown by media outlets across the world.

He had been stopped for speeding on a dark street on 3 March 1991. The four LA police officers who pulled him over hit him more than 50 times with their batons, kicked him and shot him with stun guns.

The iconic images of his beating had a huge impact at the time on an already tense Los Angeles.

Eventually, the whole chain of events had a profound impact on the way race was dealt with in the US.

King recently told the Los Angeles Times that while he had come to terms with his broader legacy, dealing with the past had not been easy.

"Some people feel like I'm some kind of hero," he said.

"Others hate me. They say I deserved it. Other people, I can hear them mocking me for when I called for an end to the destruction, like I'm a fool for believing in peace."

A later trial resulted in two of the four officers being jailed. King sued the City of Los Angeles and won $3.8m (£2.5m) compensation.

The rioting that gripped LA in the wake of the original not-guilty verdict went on for days, leaving 50 people dead and causing $1bn of damage to the city.

The Los Angeles Police Department itself was shown to have serious problems with racism, and instituted an overhaul.

King got engaged to one of the jurors from his trial and published a book in 2012 titled The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion to Redemption.

But he also struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, had several brushes with the law over the years, and he eventually lost all his money.

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