A Freeway Beating

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RIVERSIDE, California: Video clips of two Riverside Sheriff's deputies repeatedly clubbing two suspected illegal Mexican immigrants on a Los Angeles freeway Monday led civil right groups to wonder if any progress had been made since the 1991 beating of Rodney King. The arrest of the Mexican man and woman, who were transporting 21 people in the back of their rusty pickup, does have many of the key ingredients of the King arrest: a high speed chase, prolonged use of force by officers after a suspect had collapsed, and a videotaped recording of every baton blow. However, says TIME's Sylvester Monroe, that is where the similarity ends: "It is not Rodney King in terms of the reaction of police officials. Riverside Police have already publicly expressed their embarrassment and immediately suspended the police officers. There is no attempt to cover up, to make excuses for this at all. That is the major difference." The Riverside Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles Police Department and by the FBI have begun investigations. But Monroe says those probes may not mean much unless they confront the central problem that allowed this beating, and King's: "These sheriff's departments have very little oversight. They have a history of doing what they want to do."