Cries Of Relief

Two verdicts of guilty in the Rodney King beating case left a city -- and a nation -- hoping that racial harmony might begin to return to L.A.

The wait seemed interminable, the suspense unbearable, the foreboding all too palpable. Los Angeles police reported to their stations at dawn Saturday, ready for a replay of last year's arson and looting; 600 National Guardsmen gathered in armories to back them up; at Camp Pendleton 70 miles away, U.S. Marines had been practicing urban assault tactics in case neither the cops nor the National Guard could quench the flames of racial riot.

And then a single word broke the tension. To seasoned legal observers gathered in a small federal courtroom in downtown L.A., it was obvious what at least some of...

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