Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

LA peace parades mark 25th anniversary of Rodney King riots

Melissa Porter | 01 May, 2017, 12:01

Denise Harlins, right, the aunt of Latasha Harlins, gathers in a prayer circle with South Los Angeles civil rights clergy leaders and members of the community on April 24, 2017 at the intersection of Florence and Normandie in South Los Angeles, to hold a prayer vigil and moment of silence to remember all those who lost their lives almost 25 years ago in the worst race riot in US history.

"One of the most astounding things about the 1992 Los Angeles riots was the response of the LAPD, which is to say no response at all", says author Joe Domanick, who has studied and written about the riots, in an interview with Grigsby Bates.

The film-makers went through hours of footage from Korean Broadcasting System - South Korea's national public broadcaster - as well as Los Angeles-based RadioKorea to do this. Their tireless efforts to ensure that black lives do indeed matter stand as an elegantly poignant answer to Rodney King's plaintive question as Los Angeles and America collectively tasted the ashes of racial injustice: "Can't we all just get along?" "My jaw dropped", says Jody David Armour, a criminal justice and law professor at the University of Southern California.

October 21, 1992 • A commission headed by former Federal Bureau of Investigation and CIA Director William Webster concludes that the LAPD and City Hall leaders did not plan appropriately for the possibility of riots prior to the verdicts. Riots start at Florence and Normandie in south-central Los Angeles.

As LA was ripped apart by crowds who looted businesses, destroyed hundreds of buildings, causing around $1 billion (Bt35 billion) damage, and attacked one another, King made a personal plea for peace. Soon after, an angry Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley denounced the verdict as "senseless", declaring, "The jury's verdict will never blind the world to what we saw on the videotape".

"LA Burning" ends on images of the 2014-2015 Ferguson riots which followed the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by white policemen, and unrest in Baltimore after the 2015 death in police custody of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

Saturday is the anniversary of the 1992 riots that erupted in South Los Angeles after a jury acquitted four white police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King.

Los Angeles 1982-1992 documents the years leading up to the explosive L.A. riots in 1992.

The LAPD at the time was nearly an occupying force, particularly biased against people of color, says lawyer and civil rights activist Connie Rice. White trucker, Reginald Denny was dragged out of his big rig and viciously beaten on live TV-ironically by four black men.

"People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?"

"For the next couple of nights, there was this fear going on", he said.

May 3, 1992 - Over 1,100 Marines, 600 Army soldiers, and 6,500 National Guard troops patrol the streets of Los Angeles. "Today, that jury asked us to accept the senseless brutal beating of a helpless man", he said.

If a suspect resisted, "you beat him", retired detective Robert Simpach tells Ridley, remembering the interrogation techniques used by the LAPD in the early 1990s.

Unemployment and crime rates are high in many inner city neighborhoods, where "our communities have seen generations of trauma", said Delonte Gholston, a youth pastor at New City Church.

- August 5, 1992 - Three months after their acquittals in criminal court, LAPD Sgt. Stacey Koon and Officers Laurence Powell, Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind are indicted on federal charges of violating King's civil rights. A skilled swimmer and surfer, King was found unconscious at the bottom of his swimming pool.

- April 16, 2010 - Gates dies of cancer at age 83.