Home > News & Advice > News Obituaries > George Holliday (2021), videotaped L.A. police beating Rodney King

George Holliday (2021), videotaped L.A. police beating Rodney King

by Linnea Crowther

George Holliday was a plumber who videotaped the 1991 police beating of Rodney King (1965–2012) that led to riots in Los Angeles.

Groundbreaking evidence

Holliday was asleep on the early morning of March 3, 1991, when he was awakened by the sounds of sirens and a helicopter. He stepped out onto his apartment’s balcony, grabbing his new camcorder on impulse. When he saw police severely beating King, who had been pulled over after a chase, Holliday began recording what he saw. He later contacted news station KTLA, which aired his video in a story on the beating that soon became a major nationwide headline. After three of the officers were acquitted despite the video evidence and a fourth’s case resulted in a mistrial, riots erupted, resulting in 63 deaths and thousands of injuries.

Holliday’s video was one of the first recordings of police brutality against an unarmed Black person, an early example of the citizen journalism that would become common in the 21st century. The video was also a major factor in the widespread attention on King’s story. Some people blamed Holliday for the violence and rioting that followed the trial, and he received death threats for his involvement.

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Notable quote

“People can accuse other people of doing stuff. But when it’s on camera, it’s different. You just can’t argue with it.” —from an interview for the New York Times

Tributes to George Holliday

Full obituary: Los Angeles Times

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