A Jarring Verdict, An Angry Spasm

Acquittals in the King-beating trial spark disbelief, rage and rioting

RATTLED BY TWO SUBSTANTIAL EARTHQUAKES AND their rumbling aftershocks the previous weekend, Californians had reason to relax a little by last Wednesday. The ground had stopped shaking. And then, at midafternoon, came the seismic news: a Superior Court jury in Simi Valley, a bedroom community northwest of Los Angeles, had acquitted on all but one count -- and deadlocked on that -- the four white L.A. policemen on trial for beating and otherwise mistreating black motorist Rodney King.

The verdict prompted amazement and disbelief. The King case was not another garden-variety allegation of police brutality. Everyone in the world within eyeshot...

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