April 20, 1992 – A busy days for vigils, protests, car accidents and observances.
After exhausting all appeals, convicted killer Robert Alton Harris was spending the day saying goodbyes before heading down to the Death Watch cell at California’s San Quentin prison, the last stop before his execution, slated to take place within hours. A vigil was assembling outside the prison, waiting for either word that a last-minute stay of execution had miraculously taken place or word that the execution had been carried out.
Further south, in Simi Valley – the trial of four police officers for the beating of motorist Rodney King was heading into the jury deliberation stage. Prosecutors contended the video-taped evidence of King being beaten repeatedly by the four police officers was indisputable proof the police used excessive force in arresting the unarmed motorist. There was an air of hopeful optimism that justice would be served as many contended that, had there not been a video running of the incident, in all likelihood, King would be the one on trial and not the police.
Meanwhile, pro and anti-abortion protestors were coming to blows in Buffalo New York when anti-abortion protestors were expecting to close down an abortion clinic starting the next day. Words were hot when the two sides held rallies, though no violence was reported. However, at least one of the protestors managed to get arrested anyway.
The Supreme Court was getting ready to look at a case regarding the Miranda Warning, which requires police to inform suspects of their rights, including that to remain silent and to insist on legal counsel. The higher court was looking at a case where a lower court overturned the ruling when a man said his confession was not given voluntarily. SCOTUS was also looking at a case in Topeka, Kansas where it was determined the Topeka Public School System had not done enough to end segregation in the classroom. Busy day.
Thousands packed London’s Wembley Stadium and millions more watched on TV as prominent Rock singers and groups staged an AIDS rally in honor of Freddie Mercury, singer of Queen, who had died of AIDS a year ago.
At least three people were reported dead and scores reported injured as a massive pileup occurred on a mountain highway in Virginia. The pileup happened during heavy fog on Interstate 64 and also included two ambulances that were heading to the crash scene in response to earlier collisions.
And British comedian Benny Hill was found dead at his home in London. Hill was 67 and had been undergoing treatment for heart and kidney problems.
That’s a small slice of what went on, this rather busy April 20, 1992 as reported by CBS Radio Hourly News.