In 1903 – (104 years ago) – an enormous limestone shelf more than half a mile wide, and weighing some ninety million tons, broke away from the side of Turtle Mountain and came crashing down on the outskirts of a coal-mining town called Frank, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Turtle Mountain was known not only for its rich coal veins, but for its periodic shakes and tremors. The local Blackfoot Indians called it “the mountain that moves,” and had long avoided camping anywhere near it. The landside destroyed houses, businesses, mine buildings, and more than a mile of railroad track. The noise was heard more than a hundred miles away. At least seventy to ninety people were killed, but that number may have been higher, because it’s believed that an unknown number of itinerant hobos looking for work had pitched camp in the area. Experts said the landslide was triggered by mining activity inside the unstable mountain, but the mine owners denied any responsibility. They quickly rebuilt the damaged railway, and the coal mine stayed in operation for another fourteen years.
In 1991 – (26 years ago) – Bangladesh was hit by one of the most deadly tropical cyclones on record. A twenty-foot storm surge flooded the highly populated coast, which was also whipped by winds above 120 miles an hour for more than twelve hours. The storm killed an estimated 138 thousand people, destroyed about a million homes, and left more than ten million people homeless.
In 1992 – (25 years ago) – a jury acquitted four Los Angeles police officers of using excessive force in their arrest of Rodney King, who had led them on a high-speed freeway pursuit after failing to pull over for a traffic stop. King’s arrest had been captured on video, and the footage had received widespread play on cable TV for more than a year. In it, one could see the police repeatedly kicking King and pounding on him with clubs as he lay immobilized on the roadway. Even LA police chief Daryl Gates had expressed shock at what he saw on the tape, as had police and community leaders nationwide. In the face of such blindingly obvious evidence of police brutality, the jury’s acquittal of the four cops sparked immediate outrage across the country — and especially in South Central LA, where riots broke out and continued over the next several days. Troops from the Marines, Army, and National Guard were called in to help restore order. Fifty-five people died, more than two thousand were injured, some eleven thousand were arrested, and more than a thousand buildings were torched.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi