The video camera used to record the beating of Rodney King in 1991, an act of violence that sparked days of riots in Los Angeles when officers were acquitted a year later, is up for auction.
Nate D. Sanders Auctions is listing the Sony Video8 Handycam CCD-F77 in an auction that ends Thursday afternoon, and bids are listed as starting at $225,000.
George Holliday used the camera to record the March 3, 1991, beating of King, who was repeatedly punched and kicked by police officers after he led them on a high-speed chase in a white Hyundai.
Holliday, 60, expressed frustration in a telephone interview Tuesday that the same issues surrounding King’s beating still seem to be occurring decades later. “Racial tension is still there. Police brutality is still there,” he said.
But Holliday said he hopes people are inspired to use the power to record, something easily accessible now to anyone with a cellphone, to document not only the bad, but also the good.
“I hope this video camera inspires people to use the amazing technology available today to shed light on events that they may find troubling, but more so, that this video I filmed may also inspire those that record events of heroism, love and kindness to step up with courage and share those events as well,” Holliday said in a statement.
“If we focus on what’s dark, and wallow in it, we will miss so much good that is all around us,” he said.
The video of King prompted public outrage and led to criminal charges against four officers. When a jury declined to convict them, the city erupted in riots.
More than 50 people died, thousands of others were hurt, and there was more than $1 billion in property damage.
The camera no longer works, and the videotape is not included in the auction.
The camera was not returned to Holliday by the FBI until 2015, and the original videotape has never been returned by authorities despite efforts to get it, Holliday said.
Holliday said that he was approached with the offer to auction the camera and that he decided to do so after a lot of thought and discussions with his wife.
Holliday recorded the video from the balcony of his apartment. He told NBC News in 2015 that he ran to the balcony, grabbing the camera along the way, and that “when I got out … onto the balcony, they were already hitting him.”
Four officers were indicted in the beating of King, and in April 1992 a jury acquitted three of them and deadlocked on the other. A federal jury later convicted two of the officers of violating King’s civil rights, and they were sentenced to 30 months in prison.
The Los Angeles Police Department implemented an array of reforms as a result of the beating, and King got a $3.8 million settlement from the city. He died in 2012 in an apparent drowning at 47.