“Damn! They Gonna Lynch Us!”

Black motorist Rodney Glenn King’s videotaped beating, at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department, would eventually touch off massive riots. A look at what happened that fateful night, from both inside and outside of King’s vehicle.

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  1. Pooh and Glenn and Freddie G. was kickin’ it late that night outside Pooh’s house, all three sitting in the car. The stars were out and the radio hummed blues into the cool March air. It was a typical Saturday on the wrong side of Altadena, near the border between the Bloods and the Crips; some homeboys, some reefer, some Old English 800, something ready to go down.

    Glenn was behind the wheel of the white Hyundai, a four-door that belonged to his grandma. He stared out the windshield, worrying his sparse mustache. Freddie G. snored at shotgun, his crippled leg snug in a metal brace. Pooh lounged behind Glenn, lids heavy, head angled forward to keep his Jheri curl from getting scrunched. It had been a long night. Sort of a reunion.

    Glenn had been trying to hook up with Pooh all week. Tonight, he’d just come on by the house. Pooh was playing with his baby girl, half-watching television.

    “What up?” said Glenn. He’d walked over, slid Pooh some skin. He’d known Pooh since Little League. Through the years, they’d lost touch on and off, but that’s how it was in the neighborhood. You away a while, you back, you pick right up. Glenn was chatty, like always, pretty funny, built like Baby Huey, six feet three. He liked Snickers bars, Mexican food, Marlboros in a box, the ladies. Twenty-five years old, he was married to his second wife, Crystal. She had two kids. They lived with his relatives in the house where he grew up.

    Pooh and Glenn had chilled a while, then hooked up with Fredd...

Originally published in GQ, October 1991