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Police Brutality and Rodney King Riots in The Documentary Uprising: Hip Hop and The La Riots

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Uprising: Hip Hop and the L. A. Riots is a documentary that was produced in 2012 and it shows how hip hop foretold, some say it fanned the flames of the most terrible civil unrest recorded in America in the 20th century. The documentary is a film that re-examines the riots that took place in 1992. It is filled with riveting detail and it depicts what happened through an assorted collection of voices of the rioters, the police officers, the victims, journalists, the rappers and everyday people who lived in South Central of Los Angeles, California. This film outlines how discord grew in the city of Los Angeles. It investigates why the general public made a choice to rise viciously against police brutality and perceived racial prejudices.

The movie was written and directed by Mark Ford. It features interviews with great characters, some of the famous rappers such as N.W.A., Ice Cube, Ice –T, Snoop Dogg among others. There are also many other characters. 

The main objective of this paper is to understand the media as an institution engaged in the production of morality and as a key factor in shaping discourses of crime. The paper will provide an outline of the movie Uprising: Hip Hop and the L. A. Riots. It will also give a detailed institutional analysis that examines how the police and the public relate to producing social responses to crime.

The documentary starts by showing us the main character, Rodney King, a man of African-American descent. The night in the year 1992, in which he was brutally attacked by four Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers, all of the white descent. On that night, Rodney King had led the police officers on what is usually termed as a high-speed chase on the highway. This police brutality was caught on amateur videotape. Which was shoot by a person living in the building. The four officers were charged with assault and the use of excessive force on Rodney King. The jury members, who were in this case, were mainly of white descent. The jury gave a ‘not guilty’ verdict and the four police officers were acquitted of their crimes. These riots are famously known as the Rodney King Uprising (2012). In Rodney King’s, the four police officers did not have the right to brutally beat him up. They committed a crime and the justice system acquitted them of this injustice. This is what led to the Rodney King Uprising. Through their injustice against Rodney King, it is evident that they helped in shaping discourses of crime. After the four LAPD officers who violently beat Rodney King were given the ‘not guilty’ verdict, the people of Los Angeles went to the streets in simmering anger and frenzy. The streets of L.A. became a view of total violent behavior that went on for days. The residents engaged in the destruction of properties, looting, and even setting stores on fire. Director- Ford says that he was astonished because ‘People were looting and walking up to the camera to say ‘fuck tha police’. They were spray painting ‘Fuck Tha Police’ on walls. They were literally driving down burning streets .In the documentary, a detonation is made through a home videotape, photos and camera footage from a news helicopter. This was happening in the streets of Los Angeles. The riots were so bad that many people lost their lives. Due to the ‘not guilty’ verdict, the residents started chanting ‘No Justice, no peace’. The L.A. residents suffered from brutality and persecution from the police force. Each and every week, thousands of Africa- Americans were arrested. By the rappers of that time. N.W.A.’s ‘Fuck Tha Police’ turned into the riots’ theme song. According to the Director-Ford, that people who suffered this injustice they were just trying to convey the message through this song. Police violence/ brutality can be described as the use of extreme and unnecessary force by police officers when handling civilians. The society is facing police discretion.They were arresting people from black community there is a lot of police force handling this matter.

The result of injustice was very bad people anger turned into killing people of white community when L.A rioters attacked on Reginald Denny, which happened almost 3 hours after the riots were instigated. Who was Making a delivery as a truck driver, Reginald was dragged out of the truck he was driving and assaulted by a gang of L.A residents. He was smacked on his head using a block made of concrete and cinder and his skull fractured in many places which led to severe brain damage. The gang hit him until he became unconscious. And Henry Watson put feet on Reginald Denny neck. The gangs were feeling proud of beating reginal because they were like dancing when they were being filmed by the helicopter on top of them. He was attacked purely because he was white and this had been brought about by the hatred that the African- Americans had towards the White people especially after hearing the ‘not guilty’ Rodney King Verdict. This whole incident was being filming by the helicopter in the sky. This incident shows the anger from the court decision gave regarding Rodney King the violence was created due to injustice and turned into a big riot. The LA black residents were throwing bricks on the vehicles coming on the road throwing rocks on police car burning public property the city was turned into battlefields. This time for the white community is very bad because they were at the target for example if any person found in the car the black people throw bricks on his car destroying car putting on fire and beating white people. The black community was taking revenge from white people.

In the documentary, violence is also shown between the black community and the Korean people. The pressure in the black community had risen because a shop owner of Korean was protecting themselves from looters actually, they were fighting against them. There is astounding footage of the Korean population defending their territory by firing pistols indiscriminately in the streets of Los Angeles. In spite of this, the other interviews in the documentary describe that much of the disorder and raiding of property served as a uniting agent in groups were blacks. Moreover, in the movie, it was also shown by the Korean person who was the owner of the gun shop say that this during the riots he was selling many guns to people it was like a profitable business for some people. There was a huge line outside the gun store to buy guns. 

The images in this documentary are accompanied by a song from rapper N.W.A., known as ‘Fuck The Police’. This song was popularly known because of its controversy as it was in favor of assassinating police officers. Another song that is used as a soundtrack in the documentary is ‘Cop Killer’ from rapper Ice-T (2012).


As a historic incident in American history, the documentary does not forget to detail the reforms that have happened in the Los Angeles community in the last decades. It also illustrates how the Los Angeles Police Department has improved and is making a change for the better. Uprising: Hip Hop and the L. A. Riots is an eye-opening documentary which showcases that the police force and the general public can produce social responses to crime; that they are key factors when it comes to shaping discourses of crime. It is very important to note that hip hop music was also a very key contributing factor in the Rodney King riots. But even today the society had still this discrimination which we can found when black people like Desmond cole face problem like carded without reason at Stanley Park. And, Amandou Diallo, Laquan McDonald who were killed by the police.


  • IMDb. Uprising: Hip Hop and the LA Riots (2012). Retrieved from
  • Mark Ford, Uprising: Hip Hop And The L.A. Riots’ 2012, USA.
  • Siegel, L. J., Hoffman, R., & Brown, G. P. (2017). CRIM: Introduction to criminology.

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Police Brutality And Rodney King Riots In The Documentary Uprising: Hip Hop And The La Riots. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from
“Police Brutality And Rodney King Riots In The Documentary Uprising: Hip Hop And The La Riots.” GradesFixer, 09 Jun. 2021,
Police Brutality And Rodney King Riots In The Documentary Uprising: Hip Hop And The La Riots. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Feb. 2023].
Police Brutality And Rodney King Riots In The Documentary Uprising: Hip Hop And The La Riots [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Jun 09 [cited 2023 Feb 1]. Available from:
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