By Sowmya Krishnamurthy
Rodney King was laid to rest today in his Los Angeles hometown in an emotional going home ceremony. The Los Angeles Times reports that the civil rights figure was commemorated in a memorial open to the public with limited seating for invited guests that included family, friends and dozens of well wishers. A slide showing photos of King throughout his life were displayed on a screen above his casket that was embroidered with the infamous words “Can We All Get Along.” According to NBC LA, the Reverend Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy that also included words from civil rights icon Jesse Jackson.
King was found dead on June 17. According to CNN, his fiancée Cynthia Kelly placed a 911 call to the Rialto, California, police at approximately 5:25 a.m and when officers arrived at the scene, they found King’s body was at the bottom of his swimming pool. He was confirmed dead at a nearby hospital.
The death is being treated as an accidental drowning but authorities are awaiting autopsy results to determine the official cause of death.
King became an accidental hero in U.S. history following a brutal beating he sustained during a 1991 traffic stop in Los Angeles, during which he was struck more than 50 times by four white officers, who were later accused of using racial slurs during the attack. Footage of the incident eventually made its way to TV, sparking massive public outcry. All four officers were acquitted, which incited civil unrest in Los Angeles and a series of deadly riots and looting ensued in the city that claimed 50 lives and cost approximately $1 billion in damages.
The impact of the beating made its way onto several hip-hop albums like Ice Cube’s The Predator and Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, which captured the racial tension in Los Angeles at the time. On the single, “Who Got the Camera?” Cube made direct reference to the beating, by telling a realistic story of being assaulted by the police after being pulled over.