April 29, 1992. Four white Los Angeles police officers are acquitted by a jury of assaulting black motorist Rodney King after a high-speed car chase a year earlier. The beating had been videotaped and the footage, showing King being repeatedly kicked while on the ground, had become the focus of much media attention. In the hours after the verdict, large crowds of mostly African Americans had gathered and confronted police. Rioting soon followed with widespread looting, arson, physical attacks and murder. Three days of street unrest left 53 people dead and thousands wounded. Damage to property was estimated to be worth up to one billion dollars. Although the riots were triggered by the King verdict, they took place in a context of high unemployment and poverty in parts of L.A. as well as racial mistrust between white, Korean and African Americans. A year later, two of the four acquitted officers were found guilty on Federal charges of civil rights violations. The two others were acquitted but have since left the LAPD. King was awarded 3.8 million dollars in damages.
Also on April 29: Joan of Arc arrives in Orléans to lift the English siege (1429); Britain lifts Martial Law in Ireland to mark the end of the Easter Rebellion (1916); Adolf Hitler marries Eva Braun in his bunker in Berlin (1945); the musical ‘Hair’ opens on Broadway (1968).
Born on April 29: Duke Ellington (1899), Emporer Hirohito of Japan (1901), Michelle Pfeiffer (1958), Andre Agassi, Uma Thurman (1970)