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Martin Luther King dreamt that all inhabitants of the United States would be judged by their personal qualities and not by the color of their skin. In April he was murdered by a white racist. Four years earlier, he had received the Peace Prize for his nonviolent campaign against racism. King adhered to Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence. In he began his struggle to persuade the US Government to declare the policy of racial discrimination in the southern states unlawful. The racists responded with violence to the black people's nonviolent initiatives. In , , demonstrators marched to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, where King gave his famous "I have a dream" speech. The following year, President Johnson got a law passed prohibiting all racial discrimination.
A civilian, George Holliday, filmed the incident from his nearby balcony and sent the footage to local news station KTLA. The incident was covered by news media around the world and caused a public furor. At a press conference, announcing the fourteen officers involved would be disciplined, and three would face criminal charges, Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates said: "We believe the officers used excessive force taking him into custody. In our review, we find that officers struck him with batons between fifty-three and fifty-six times. On his release, he spoke to reporters from his wheelchair, with his injuries evident: a broken right leg in a cast, his face badly cut and swollen, bruises on his body, and a burn area to his chest where he had been jolted with a 50,volt stun gun. He described how he had knelt, spread his hands out, and slowly tried to move so as not to make any 'stupid move,' being hit across the face by a billy club and shocked. He said he was scared for his life as they drew down on him. Four officers were eventually tried on charges of use of excessive force. Of these, three were acquitted , and the jury failed to reach a verdict on one charge for the fourth. Within hours of the acquittals, the Los Angeles riots started, sparked by outrage among racial minorities over the trial's verdict and related, longstanding social issues.