LOS ANGELES (CBS) — One of Rodney King’s daughters remembered him not as a civil rights figure, but as a “gentle giant” of a father, as he was buried Saturday.
“I will remember his smile, his unconditional love,” said Laura Dene King, 28, to a phalanx of news cameras outside the Hall of Freedom at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills, where her father was about to be interred.
“He was a great father, a great friend, he loved everyone. People will just have to smile when they think of him,” she said.
Rev. Jesse Jackson and other civil rights luminaries were planning to attend today’s funeral for King, whose beating at the hands of Los Angeles police in 1992 crystallized the nation once again over race relations.
King, 47, was found in cardiac arrest two weeks ago at the bottom of his swimming pool in Rialto. He died at a nearby hospital.
Toxicology results are still pending.
At a pre-funeral news conference today, MSNBC commentator Rev. Al Sharpton said King “bore his scars with grace and dignity, and he never showed bitterness to the officers who beat him.
“People should not be judged by the mistakes that they make, but by how they rise above them,” Sharpton said. “Rodney had risen above his mistakes, he never mocked anyone, not the police, not the justice system, not anyone.
“He became a symbol of forgiveness,” Shaprton said.
Donors large and small had chipped in for the funeral and other arrangements, and filed into the faux-colonial structure at the cemetery. TV producer Anthony Zuiker donated $10,000, and said he was at the funeral “to be with Rodney’s family.
“We lost a symbol, but they lost a loved one,” said Zuiker, creator of the “CSI” franchise. “Rodney was a healer.”
King’s longtime attorney, Steven Lerman, said most people made incorrect assumptions about King, not knowing his real background. King had grown up in a mixed-race environment in middle-class Altadena, Lerman said today.
King’s plaintive “can we all just get along” lament, at the height of the vicious L.A. Riots, was a direct reflection of that background, and of the tolerance taught to King by his mother, Odessa King, Lerman said.
“That didn’t just come out of the blue,” he said,.
“There was a certain playfulness in his spirit that always shined through,” Lerman said. He recalled his disbelief when King told him he had never seen the Watts Towers, a South Central L.A. landmark, and his joy at seeing them for the first time.
Today’s services were held nearly two weeks after King’s death, a delay that family members attributed to financial woes and disagreement about how it was to be handled. In the end, the family decided for a public ceremony, and allowed a pool TV camera inside.
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