LAPD Pinata

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One L.A. day many moons ago Los Angeles police officers maltreated Rodney King, an African American. The beating, which occurred during a traffic stop, was captured on camera by a witness and provoked worldwide outrage and riots in Los Angeles that left dozens dead and thousands injured. Banksy reproduced a recognizable screenshot of the infamous beating around the 20th anniversary of the incident.

In the work Banksy uses a multicolored pinata in the place of King. The artwork was meant to encourage reflection on the incident and on how the dehumanization of others leads to self-dehumanization. The same five officers are present with the same car in the background, and the time is located on the bottom-right of the canvas, as in the real footage. Four officers are looking down at the pinata while one of them is taking another swing at it with a baton, with scattered pieces lying around from previous blows. The different colors on the pinata represent how people of all colors become victims of the erosion of civil liberties, as the health of a democracy can be determined by the protection of unpopular or marginalized groups, whether of race, creed, or any other distinguishing characteristics.

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