1992 Los Angeles riots
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|Los Angeles Riots of 1992|
|Location||Los Angeles, California|
|Date||April 29, 1992– May 4, 1992|
|Attack type||Rioting, race riots, protests, looting, attacks|
The 1992 Los Angeles riots, also known as the Rodney King Riots, the South Central Riots, the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Disturbance, and the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest, were a race riot/pogrom and subsequent looting and civil disturbance that occurred in Los Angeles, California in 1992 following a police brutality incident. It was among the largest riots in US history.
The riot was first started in South Los Angeles and then eventually spread out into other areas over a six-day period within the Los Angeles metropolitan area in California during April in 1992. The riots started on April 29 after a trial jury acquitted four Los Angeles Police Department officers of assault and use of excessive force. The mostly white officers were videotaped beating an African-American named Rodney King following a high-speed police pursuit. Thousands of people throughout the metropolitan area in Los Angeles rioted over six days following the announcement of the verdict.
Widespread looting, assault, arson and murder occurred during the riots, and estimates of property damages topped one billion dollars. The rioting ended after soldiers from the California Army National Guard, along with U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton were called in to stop the rioting after the local police could not handle the situation. In total, 53 people were killed during the riots and over two thousand people were injured.
After the riots subsided significant actions were undertaken in the Los Angeles Police Department including the retrial of the police officers involved, increasing minority officers in the police department, analyzing excessive force, resignation of the police chief, loss of support for the Mayor of Los Angeles, and analyzing the general political and economic atmosphere that contributed to the riots.
On March 3, 1991, Rodney King and two passengers were driving west on the Foothill Freeway (I-210) through the Lake View Terrace neighborhood of Los Angeles. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) attempted to initiate a traffic stop. A high-speed pursuit ensued with speeds estimated at up to 115 mph first over freeways and then through residential neighborhoods. When King came to a stop, CHP Officer Timothy Singer and his wife, CHP Officer Melanie Singer, ordered the occupants under arrest.
After two passengers were placed in the patrol car, five white Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers (Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, and Rolando Solano) attempted to subdue King, who came out of the car last. In a departure from the usual procedure, which is to tackle and cuff a suspect, King was tasered, kicked in the head, beaten with PR-24 batons for over one minute, then tackled and cuffed. The officers claimed that King was under the influence of PCP at the time of arrest, which caused him to be very aggressive and violent towards the officers. The video showed that he was crawling on the ground during the beating and that the police made no attempt to cuff him.
A subsequent test for the presence of PCP turned up negative. The incident was captured on a camcorder by resident George Holliday from his apartment in the vicinity. The tape was roughly ten minutes long. While the case was presented to the court, clips of the incident were not released to the public.
In a later interview, King, who was on parole from prison on a robbery conviction and who had past convictions for assault, battery and robbery, said that he had not surrendered earlier because he knew that an arrest for DUI would violate the terms of his parole.
The footage of King being beaten by police while lying on the ground became a focus for media attention and a rallying point for activists in Los Angeles and around the United States. Coverage was extensive during the initial two weeks after the incident: the Los Angeles Times published forty-three articles about the incident, The New York Times published seventeen articles, and the Chicago Tribune published eleven articles. Eight stories appeared on ABC News, including a sixty-minute special on Primetime Live.
Charges and trial 
The Los Angeles District Attorney subsequently charged four police officers, including one sergeant, with assault and use of excessive force. Due to the heavy media coverage of the arrest, the trial received a change of venue from Los Angeles County to Simi Valley in neighboring Ventura County. The jury was composed of nine whites, one black, one Latino, and one Asian. The prosecutor, Terry White, was black.
On April 29, 1992, the seventh day of jury deliberations, the jury acquitted all four officers of assault and acquitted three of the four of using excessive force. The jury could not agree on a verdict for the fourth officer charged with using excessive force. The verdicts were based in part on the first three seconds of a blurry, 13-second segment of the video tape that, according to journalist Lou Cannon, was edited out by television news stations in their broadcasts.
During the first two seconds of videotape, in confirmation of claims by the police, the video showed King aggressing toward Laurence Powell. During the next one minute and 19 seconds, King is beaten continuously by the officers. The officers testified that they tried to physically restrain King prior to the starting point of the videotape but, according to the officers, King was able to physically throw them off himself.
Another theory offered by the prosecution for the officers' acquittal is that the jurors may have become desensitized to the violence of the beating, as the defense played the videotape repeatedly in slow motion, breaking it down until its emotional impact was lost.
Outside the Simi Valley courthouse where the acquittals were delivered, county sheriff's deputies protected Stacey Koon from angry protest on the way to his car. Director John Singleton, who was in the crowd at the courthouse, predicted, "By having this verdict, what these people done, they lit the fuse to a bomb."
The riots, beginning the day of the verdicts, peaked in intensity over the next two days. A dusk-to-dawn curfew and deployment of the National Guard eventually controlled the situation.
Fifty-three people died during the riots, including ten who were shot dead by police and military forces, with as many as 2,000 people injured. Estimates of the material losses vary between about $800 million and $1 billion. Approximately 3,600 fires were set, destroying 1,100 buildings, with fire calls coming once every minute at some points. Widespread looting also occurred. Stores owned by Korean and other Asian immigrants were widely targeted.
Many of the disturbances were concentrated in South Central Los Angeles, which was primarily composed of African American and Hispanic residents. Half of all riot arrestees and more than a third of those killed during the violence were Hispanic.
First day (Wednesday, April 29, 1992) 
The acquittals of the four accused Los Angeles Police Department officers came at 3:15 pm local time. By 3:45, a crowd of more than 300 people had appeared at the Los Angeles County Courthouse protesting the verdicts passed down a half an hour earlier. Between 5 and 6 pm, a group of two dozen officers, commanded by Los Angeles Police officer, Lieutenant Michael Moulin, confronted a growing crowd at the intersection of Florence and Normandie (an intersection which is mentioned at 1:33:07 NTSC in the movie 10 to Midnight) in South Central Los Angeles. Outnumbered, the police officers retreated. By about 6:30 pm, a new group of protesters appeared at the Los Angeles Police Department's headquarters at Parker Center, and fifteen minutes later, the crowd at Florence and Normandie had started looting, attacking vehicles and people.
Attack on Reginald Denny 
At approximately 6:45 pm, Reginald Oliver Denny, a white truck driver who stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of Florence and Normandie Avenues, was dragged from his vehicle and severely beaten by a mob of local black residents as a television news helicopter hovered above, piloted by reporter Bob Tur, who broadcast live pictures of the attack, including a concrete brick that was thrown by 'Football' Damian Williams that struck Denny in the temple, causing a near-fatal seizure. As Tur continued his reporting, it was clear that local police had deserted the area.
Coincidentally, it was Tur's live reports that led to Denny being rescued by an unarmed, African American civilian named Bobby Green Jr. who, seeing the assault live on television, rushed to the scene and drove Denny to the hospital using the victim's own truck, which carried twenty-seven tons of sand. Denny had to undergo years of rehabilitative therapy, and his speech and ability to walk were permanently damaged. Although several other motorists were brutally beaten by the same mob, Denny remains the best-known victim of the riots because of the live television coverage.
Fidel Lopez beating 
At the same intersection, just minutes after Denny was rescued, another beating was captured on video tape. Fidel Lopez, a self-employed construction worker and Guatemalan immigrant, was pulled from his truck and robbed of nearly $2,000. Damian Williams smashed his forehead open with a car stereo as another rioter attempted to slice his ear off. After Lopez lost consciousness, the crowd spray painted his chest, torso and genitals black.
Lopez survived the attack, undergoing extensive surgery to reattach his partially severed ear, and months of recovery.
Second day (Thursday, April 30) 
Although the day began relatively quiet, by mid-morning on the second day violence appeared widespread and unchecked as heavy looting and fires were witnessed across Los Angeles County. Korean-Americans, seeing the police force's abandonment of Koreatown, organized armed security teams composed of store owners, who defended their livelihoods from assault by the mobs. Open gun battles were televised as Korean shopkeepers exchanged gunfire with armed looters.
Organized law-enforcement response began to come together by midday. Fire crews began to respond backed by police escort; California Highway Patrol reinforcements were airlifted to the city; and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew at 12:15 am. President George H. W. Bush spoke out against the rioting, stating that "anarchy" would not be tolerated. The California National Guard, which had been advised not to expect civil disturbance and had, as a result, loaned its riot equipment out to other law enforcement agencies, responded quickly by calling up about 2,000 soldiers, but could not get them to the city until nearly 24 hours had passed because of a lack of proper equipment, training, and available ammunition which had to be picked up from Camp Roberts, California (near Paso Robles). In an attempt to end hostilities, Bill Cosby spoke on the NBC affiliate television station KNBC and asked people to stop what they were doing and instead watch the final episode of The Cosby Show.
Third day (Friday, May 1) 
The third day was punctuated by live footage of Rodney King at an impromptu news conference in front of his lawyer's Los Angeles offices on Wilshire & Doheny, tearfully saying, "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?" That morning, at 1:00 am, California Governor Pete Wilson had requested federal assistance, but it was not ready until Saturday, by which time the rioting and looting was under control. National Guard units (doubled to 4,000 troops) continued to move into the city in Humvees, eventually seeing 10,000 National Guard troops activated. Additionally, a varied contingent of 1,700 federal law-enforcement officers from different agencies from across the state began to arrive, to protect federal facilities and assist local police. As darkness fell, the main riot area was further hit by a power cut.
Friday evening, U.S. President George H.W. Bush addressed the country, denouncing "random terror and lawlessness", summarizing his discussions with Mayor Bradley and Governor Wilson, and outlining the federal assistance he was making available to local authorities. Citing the "urgent need to restore order", he warned that the "brutality of a mob" would not be tolerated, and he would "use whatever force is necessary". He then turned to the Rodney King case and a more moderate tone, describing talking to his own grandchildren and pointing to the reaction of "good and decent policemen" as well as civil rights leaders. He said he had already directed the Justice Department to begin its own investigation, saying that "grand jury action is underway today" and that justice would prevail.
By this point, many entertainment and sports events were postponed or canceled. The Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Portland Trail Blazers in a basketball playoff game on the night the rioting started, but the following game was postponed until Sunday and moved to Las Vegas. The Los Angeles Clippers moved a playoff game against the Utah Jazz to nearby Anaheim. In baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers postponed games for four straight days from Thursday to Sunday, including a whole 3-game series against the Montreal Expos; all were made up as part of doubleheaders in July. In San Francisco, a city curfew due to unrest there forced the postponement of a May 1 San Francisco Giants home game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The horse racing venues Hollywood Park Racetrack and Los Alamitos Race Course were also shut down. L.A. Fiesta Broadway, a major event in the Latino community, was not held in the first weekend in May as scheduled. In music, Van Halen canceled two concert shows in Inglewood on Saturday and Sunday. Michael Bolton was scheduled to perform at the Hollywood Bowl for Sunday, but the concert was canceled. The World Wrestling Federation also canceled events on Friday and Saturday in the cities of Long Beach and Fresno.
The Southern California Rapid Transit District (now Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority) suspended all bus service throughout the Los Angeles area. Some major freeways were closed down.
Fourth day (Saturday, May 2) 
On the fourth day, 2,000 7th Infantry Division (L) 2nd BDE soldiers, and a company's worth of military policemen from Fort Ord, along with 1,500 U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton, arrived to reinforce the California Army National Guard soldiers already in the city. This federal force took twenty-four hours to deploy to Huntington Park, about the same time it took for the California Army National Guard soldiers. This brought total troop strength associated with the effort to stop the breakdown in civil order to 13,500. U.S. military forces directly supported Los Angeles Police officers in restoring order and had a major effect of first containing, then stopping the violence. With most of the violence under control, 30,000 people attended a peace rally. On the same day, the U.S. Justice Department announced it would begin a federal investigation of the Rodney King beating.
Fifth day (Sunday, May 3) 
Overall quiet set in and Mayor Bradley assured the public that the crisis was, more or less, under control. In one incident, National Guardsmen shot and killed a motorist who tried to run them over at a barrier.
Sixth day (Monday, May 4) 
Although Mayor Bradley lifted the curfew, signaling the official end of the riots, sporadic violence and crime continued for a few days afterward. Schools, banks, and businesses reopened. Federal troops did not stand down until May 9; the Army National Guard remained until May 14; and some soldiers remained as late as May 27.
Riots and Korean-Americans 
Korean-Americans in Los Angeles refer to the event as "Sa-I-Gu", meaning "four-two-nine" in the Korean language, in reference to the April 29, 1992, which was the day the riots started. The riots prompted various responses from Korean-Americans, including the formation of activist organizations such as the Association of Korean-American Victims, and increased efforts to build collaborative links with other ethnic groups.
During the riots, many Korean immigrants from the area rushed to Koreatown, after Korean-language radio stations called for volunteers to guard against rioters. Many were armed, with a variety of improvised weapons, shotguns, and semi-automatic rifles.
According to Professor Edward Park, director of the Asian Pacific American Studies Program at Loyola Marymount University, the 1992 violence stimulated a new wave of political activism among Korean-Americans, but it also split them into two camps. The liberals sought to unite with other minorities in Los Angeles to fight against racial oppression and scapegoating. The conservatives emphasized law and order and generally favored the economic and social policies of the Republican Party. The conservatives tended to emphasize the political differences between Koreans and other minorities, specifically African Americans and Hispanics.
One of the most iconic and controversial television images of the violence was a scene of two Korean merchants firing pistols repeatedly at roving looters. The New York Times said "that the image seemed to speak of race war, and of vigilantes taking the law into their own hands." The merchants, jewelry store and gun shop owner Richard Park and his gun store manager, David Joo, were reacting to the shooting of Mr. Park's wife and her sister by looters who converged on the shopping center where the shops were located.
Due to their low social status and language barrier, Korean Americans received very little if any aid or protection from police authorities. David Joo, a manager of the gun store, said, "I want to make it clear that we didn't open fire first. At that time, four police cars were there. Somebody started to shoot at us. The LAPD ran away in half a second. I never saw such a fast escape. I was pretty disappointed." Carl Rhyu, a participant in the Korean immigrants' armed response to the rioting, said, "If it was your own business and your own property, would you be willing to trust it to someone else? We are glad the National Guard is here. They're good backup. But when our shops were burning we called the police every five minutes; no response. At a shopping center several miles north of Koreatown, Jay Rhee, who estimated that he and others fired five hundred shots into the ground and air, said, "We have lost our faith in the police. Where were you when we needed you?" Korean Americans were ignored. Koreatown was isolated from South Central Los Angeles, yet despite such exclusion it was the heaviest hit.
The cultural differences and success of Korean Americans raised intense resentment towards their culture as they were the primary targets during the riots. Koreans were considered the “model minority” as they possessed great business success in Koreatown as small grocery and liquor stores. Blacks targeted Korean Americans, for they felt economic inequality in a nation that is considered their own. Tension had been simmering between African Americans and Koreans in Los Angeles for decades. Such conflict included the lack of the perceived exploitation and racism of the black community by Koreans, the Korean’s failure to hire blacks, the robbing and shootings of Koreans by blacks and racist attitudes of blacks with regard to Korean immigrants. Korean Americans were perceived as rude, linguistically limited foreigners who exploited the black community. They were often depicted as racists (the Latasha Harlins shooting was seen by some in the black community as exemplifying the Korean community's racist attitude toward blacks), and Ice Cube’s rap song ‘Black Korea’ spoke for many: “Look you little Chinese motherfucker/I ain’t trying to steal none of yo’ shit, leave me alone!...So pay respect to the black fist/ or we’ll burn your store, right down to a crisp!” Blacks used Korean Americans as an outlet to their anger and suppression within society; based on such cultural perceptions, blacks felt justified in the terrorizing of Koreatown. Korean Americans were strangers to their new land, as the cultural differences, such as language, customs, success, and physical appearances, were significantly different than the majority; however, it should not be minimized that Asian immigrants came for homogenous societies that viewed some racial groups as "inferior." These differences were used as fuel to the looting and arson during the six-day riot period.
One of the largest armed camps in Los Angeles' Koreatown was at the California Market. On the first night after the verdicts were returned in the trial of the four officers charged in the beating of Rodney King, Richard Rhee, the market owner, posted himself in the parking lot with about 20 armed employees. One year after the riots fewer than one in four damaged or destroyed businesses reopened, according to the survey conducted by the Korean-American Inter-Agency Council. According to a Los Angeles Times survey conducted eleven months after the riots, almost 40% of Korean-Americans said they were thinking of leaving Los Angeles.
Before a verdict was issued in the new 1993 Rodney King federal civil rights trial against the four officers, Korean shop owners prepared for the worst as fear ran throughout the city, gun sales went up, virtually all of them by those of Korean descent, some merchants at flea markets removed their merchandise from their shelves, storefronts were fortified with extra Plexiglas and bars. Throughout the region, merchants readied to defend themselves as if on the eve of a war. College student Elizabeth Hwang spoke of the attacks on her parents' convenience store in 1992 and the fact that if trouble erupted following the 1993 trial, that they were armed with a Glock 17 pistol, a Beretta and a shotgun and they planned to barricade themselves in their store to fight off looters.
Some Koreans formed armed self-defence groups following the 1992 riots. Speaking just prior to the 1993 verdict, Mr. Yong Kim, leader of the Korea Young Adult Team of Los Angeles, which purchased five AK-47s, stated, "We made a mistake last year. This time we won't. I don't know why Koreans are always a special target for African-Americans, but if they are going to attack our community then we are going to pay them back."
Post Riots 
Korean Americans not only faced physical damages to their stores and community surroundings, but they also suffered emotional and psychological despair. About 2,300 Korean owned stores in Southern California and Koreatown were looted or burned, thus contributing to 45 percent of all damages caused by the riot. According to the Asian and Pacific American Counseling and Prevention Center, 730 Koreans were treated for post-traumatic suffering, which included symptoms such as insomnia, sense of inactivity, and muscle pain. Such physical and psychological trauma created a positive movement as Korean Americans established their political and social empowerment.
The L.A. riots contributed to the creation of new ethnic agenda and organization. A week after the riots, the largest Asian American protest ever held in a city, about 30,000 mostly Korean and Korean Americans marchers walked the streets of L.A. Koreatown, calling for peace and denouncing police violence. This cultural movement was devoted to the protection of Korean’s political rights, ethnic heritage, and political representation. It created a new form of leaders within the community, in which second generation children spoke on behalf of the community. Korean Americans saw a shift in occupation goals, from storeowners to political leaders. Such political voice aided Korean Americans in receiving governmental aid in the reconstruction of their damaged neighborhoods. Countless community and advocacy groups have been established to further fuel Korean political representation and understanding. Korean Americans no longer wanted to be silenced by the masses. They experienced firsthand the severity of such isolation, as they were forced to endure the physical and psychological aftermath. The representative voice that was created remains present in South Central Los Angeles, as such events as the riots contributed to the shaping of identities, perceptions and political and social representation.
Twenty years after the riots, Korean Americans have risen from the ashes of the L.A riots. Koreatown has been rebuilt and reconstructed as a vibrant and successful establishment with a more open and welcoming demeanor. They are no longer considered an isolated sector of the community; rather they are embraced for their diversity and accepted as a piece of the melting pot of cultures in the multiethnic and multiracial Los Angeles. The Korean community continues to additionally develop a cultural understanding with African Americans. They attempt to move away from the silent, greedy storekeeper stereotype that was once inflicted upon them and improve relationships in hopes to ensure that such violent activity is reframed in the future. Korean Americans no longer see the riots as a loss but rather a gain. The riots were the focal point that allowed the Korean Americans to reevaluate and reestablish their economic, cultural and political position in South Central Los Angeles. Such an event is proof that the riots and Los Angeles overall is not solemnly black and white.
Hispanics in the Riots 
According to a report prepared in 1993 by the Latinos Futures Research Group for the Latino Coalition for a New Los Angeles, one third of those killed in the riots were Latino, one third of those were arrested, and almost one half of the businesses looted were owned by Latino owners. During the time of the riots, Hispanics were increasingly inhabiting the area. Based on the 1990 census, South Central Los Angeles, the area hardest hit by the riots, had a population of 45 percent Hispanic and 48 percent black. South Central Los Angeles was not seen as an incorporated or demographically connected, rather it was seen as two different communities: black and Hispanic. Due to this distinct division, the media focused on the majority, blacks, of the area. Since it was a black man that was faced with such brutality, the media focused on the victim’s race and ignored any other racial participation, for any other race did not theoretically matter, nor carry a sense of social significance. Hispanics were considered a minority despite their increasing numbers, thus lacked political support and poorly represented as a result. Their lack of knowledge, both socially and politically, within the area additionally silenced their acknowledgment of participation. Since many of the individuals of the area were new immigrants, they did not speak English and were further silenced by the language barrier and were seen as unimportant and “different” than blacks.
Hispanics did not riot out of outrage of the verdict of Rodney King, rather their participation was based primarily as opportunistic and a bridge of cultural division between Hispanics and blacks living in the area. It has been addressed that Hispanics were not part of the initial outbreak. In fact, it was not until the third or fourth day of the riots, when social unrest began to hinder their everyday duties, such as getting food or transportation, that Hispanics were seen participating in looting. Since the majority of Hispanics were living in poverty, they jumped at the chance of possessing valuables that they could not afford. The Hispanic participation was a reflection of the destruction of social norms and thus partook in such activities that would not have occurred had the circumstances not presented it. Many Hispanics were not even aware of the Rodney King case; however, they became a product of the anarchy surrounding them. Others saw looting in a way that they would be left with nothing if they did not participate as well. Some Hispanics participated in the looting in order to feel a sense of belonging and connection within the community. Since blacks made up the majority of the population in South Central Los Angeles, Hispanics felt disconnected from blacks due to the language barrier and cultural differences and values. Therefore, by participating in such acts, they felt closer to the neighboring race. Other Hispanics participated in the violence because they felt the same racial and economic conditions that blacks felt as well as the unfair treatment by the LAPD and the sheriffs throughout the years. By rioting together, these two groups felt united as one. They were no longer two distinct races; rather they shared more than they believed.
The riots did not create social distance between Hispanics and blacks, rather than dividing the two groups it united them. Although the riots were perceived in different aspects, it brought a greater sense of understanding between Hispanics and blacks. Even though Hispanics now heavily populate the area that was once black, South Central Los Angeles, such transition has improved over time. The two cultures have intertwined, through language and historical collaborations. Hispanic children who grew up in this area identify themselves as “Blacixans,” since they learned Spanish from their native culture and English and other American traditions from their African American neighbors. African American children learn about Hispanic culture such as celebration like Cinco de Mayo and that Hispanics fought alongside blacks in the Civil War. The start of a new community coming together displays the positive outcome of such dismay. The building of a stronger and more understanding community depicts the unlikelihood of social chaos arising between the two groups.
Post-riot commentary 
In addition to the immediate trigger of the Rodney King verdicts, a range of other factors were cited as reasons for the unrest. Anger over Korean American shop-owner Soon Ja Du's weak sentence for fatally shooting a black teenager Latasha Harlins who was allegedly attempting theft of a small container of orange juice (she died with $2 in her hand) was pointed to as a potential reason for the riots, particularly for aggression toward Korean Americans. Publications such as Newsweek and Time suggested that the source of these racial antagonisms was derived from perceptions amongst blacks that Korean-American merchants were 'taking money out of their community' and refusing to hire blacks to work in their shops. According to this view, these tensions were intensified when Du was sentenced to five years probation but no jail time after a jury convicted her of manslaughter.
Another explanation offered for the riots was the extremely high unemployment among the residents of South Central Los Angeles, which had been hit very hard by the nation-wide recession, and the high levels of poverty there. Articles in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times linked the economic deterioration of South Central to the declining living conditions of the residents, and suggested that local resentments about these conditions helped to fuel the riots.
Social commentator Mike Davis pointed to the growing economic disparity in Los Angeles in the years leading up to the riots caused by corporate restructuring and government deregulation, with inner-city residents bearing the brunt of these changes. Such conditions engendered a widespread feeling of frustration and powerlessness in the urban populace, with the King verdicts eventually setting off their resentments in a violent expression of collective public protest. To Davis and other writers, the tensions witnessed between African-Americans and Korean-Americans during the unrest was as much to do with the economic competition forced on the two groups by wider market forces, as with either cultural misunderstandings or blacks angered about the killing of Harlins.
One of the more detailed analyses of the unrest was a study produced shortly after the riots by a Special Committee of the California Legislature, entitled To Rebuild is Not Enough. After extensive research, the Committee concluded that the inner-city conditions of poverty, segregation, lack of educational and employment opportunities, police abuse and unequal consumer services created the underlying causes of the riots. It also pointed to changes in the American economy and the growing ethnic diversity of Los Angeles as important sources of urban discontent, which eventually exploded on the streets following the King verdicts. Another official report, The City in Crisis, was initiated by the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners and made many of the same observations as the Assembly Special Committee about the growth of popular urban dissatisfaction leading up to the unrest. In their study Farrell and Johnson found similar factors which included the diversification of the L.A. population, tension between the successful Korean businesses and other minorities, use of excessive force on minorities by LAPD, and the effect of laissez-faire business on urban employment opportunities.
Initially theories of motives of the rioters were attributed to racial tensions but now they are considered one factor in a larger status quo conflict. Urban sociologist Joel Kotkin agrees, “This wasn’t a race riot, it was a class riot.” Supporting this is the large misconception that rioters were primarily African-American, as many groups participated. Newsweek reported that “Hispanics and even some whites-men, women and children—mingled with African-Americans.” “When residents who lived near Florence and Normandie were asked why they believed riots had occurred in their neighborhoods, they responded of the perceived racist attitudes they had felt throughout their lifetime and empathized with the bitterness the rioters felt. Residents who had respectable jobs, homes, and material items still felt like second-class citizens. A poll by Newsweek asked whether black people charged with crimes were treated more harshly or more leniently and results revealed that blacks voted 75% more harshly versus whites 46%.
In his public statements during the riots, civil rights activist and Baptist minister Jesse Jackson sympathized with the anger experienced by African-Americans regarding the verdicts in the King trial, and pointed to certain root causes of the disturbances. Although he suggested that the violence was not justified, he repeatedly emphasized that the riots were an inevitable result of the continuing patterns of racism, police brutality and economic despair suffered by inner-city residents—a tinderbox of seething frustrations which was eventually set off by the verdicts.
Democratic presidential candidate, Bill Clinton, argued likewise that the violence resulted from the breakdown of economic opportunities and social institutions in the inner city. He also berated both major political parties for failing to address urban issues, especially the Republican Administration for its presiding over "more than a decade of urban decay" generated by their spending cuts. He maintained that the King verdicts could not be avenged by the "savage behavior" of "lawless vandals". He also stated that people "are looting because ... [t]hey do not share our values, and their children are growing up in a culture alien from ours, without family, without neighborhood, without church, without support."
African-American Congressional representative of South Central Los Angeles, Democrat Maxine Waters, said that the events in L.A. constituted a "rebellion" or "insurrection" caused by the underlying reality of poverty and despair existing in the inner city. This state of affairs, she asserted, were brought about by a government which had all but abandoned the poor through the loss of local jobs and by the institutional discrimination encountered by people of racial minorities, especially at the hands of the police and financial institutions.
Conversely, President Bush argued that the unrest was "purely criminal". Though he acknowledged that the King verdicts were plainly unjust, he maintained that "we simply cannot condone violence as a way of changing the system ... Mob brutality, the total loss of respect for human life was sickeningly sad ... What we saw last night and the night before in Los Angeles is not about civil rights. It's not about the great cause of equality that all Americans must uphold. It's not a message of protest. It's been the brutality of a mob, pure and simple."
Vice President Dan Quayle blamed the violence on a "Poverty of Values" – "I believe the lawless social anarchy which we saw is directly related to the breakdown of family structure, personal responsibility and social order in too many areas of our society" Similarly, the White House Press Secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, alleged that "many of the root problems that have resulted in inner city difficulties were started in the '60s and '70s and ... they have failed ... [N]ow we are paying the price."
Several prominent writers expressed a similar "culture of poverty" argument. Writers in Newsweek, for example, drew a distinction between the actions of the rioters in 1992 with those of the urban upheavals in the 1960s, arguing that "[w]here the looting at Watts had been desperate, angry, mean, the mood this time was closer to a manic fiesta, a TV game show with every looter a winner."
Meanwhile, in an article published in Commentary entitled "How the Rioters Won", conservative columnist Midge Decter referred to African-American city youths and asked "[h]ow is it possible to go on declaring that what will save the young men of South-Central L.A., and the young girls they impregnate, and the illegitimate babies they sire, is jobs? How is it possible to look at these boys of the underclass ... and imagine that they either want or could hold on to jobs?"
Media coverage 
Almost as soon as the disturbances broke out in South Central, local television news cameras were on the scene to record the events as they happened. Television coverage of the riots was near-continuous, starting with the beating of motorists at the intersection of Florence and Normandie broadcast live by television news pilot/reporter Bob Tur, and his camera operator, Marika Gerrard. By virtue of their extensive coverage, mainstream television stations provided a vivid, comprehensive and valuable record of the violence occurring on the streets of Los Angeles.
In part because of extensive media coverage of the Los Angeles riots, smaller but similar riots and other anti-police actions took place in other cities throughout the United States. The Emergency Broadcast System was also utilized during the rioting.
Rodney King 
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
In the aftermath of the riots, pressure mounted for a retrial of the officers, and federal charges of civil rights violations were brought against them. As the first anniversary of the acquittal neared, the city tensely awaited the decision of the federal jury; seven days of deliberations raised fears of further violence in the event of another "not guilty" verdict.
The decision was read in an atypical 7:00 am Saturday court session on April 17, 1993. Two officers—Officer Laurence Powell and Sergeant Stacey Koon—were found guilty, while officers Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind were acquitted. Mindful of accusations of sensationalist reporting in the wake of the first trial and the resulting chaos, media outlets opted for more sober coverage, which included calmer on-the-street interviews. Police were fully mobilized with officers on 12-hour shifts, convoy patrols, scout helicopters, street barricades, tactical command centers, and support from the National Guard and Marines.
All four of the officers involved have since quit or have been fired from the LAPD. Officer Theodore Briseno left the LAPD after being acquitted on federal charges. Officer Timothy Wind, who was also acquitted a second time, was fired after the appointment of Willie L. Williams as Chief of Police. Chief Williams' tenure was also short-lived. The Los Angeles Police Commission declined to renew his contract, citing Williams' failure to fulfill his mandate to create meaningful change in the department in the wake of the Rodney King disaster. Susan Clemmer, an officer who gave crucial testimony for the defense at the initial trial, committed suicide in July 2009 in the lobby of a Los Angeles Sheriff's Station. She rode in the ambulance with King and testified that he was laughing and spat blood on her uniform. She had remained in law enforcement and was a Sheriff's Detective at the time of her death.
Rodney King was awarded $3.8 million in damages from the City of Los Angeles for the attack. He invested most of this money in founding a record label, "Straight Alta-Pazz Records". The venture was unable to garner any success and soon folded. Since the arrest which culminated in his severe beating by the four police officers, King was arrested at least a further eleven times on a variety of charges, including domestic abuse and hit-and-run. King and his family moved from Los Angeles to Rialto, California, a suburb in San Bernardino County in an attempt to escape the fame and notoriety and to begin a new life. King and his family later returned to Los Angeles, where they ran a family-owned construction company. King, until his death on June 17, 2012, rarely discussed the incident or its aftermath, preferring to remain out of the spotlight. Renee Campbell, his most recent attorney, described King as "...simply a very nice man caught in a very unfortunate situation."
Deaths and Arrests 
On May 3, 1992, The Supreme Court extended the charging defendants' 48-hour deadline to 96 hours. That day, 6,345 people were arrested and 44 dead bodies were still being identified by the coroner using fingerprints, driver's license, or dental records.
By May 16, 1992, 51 men and 7 women were dead because of the riots and the Los Angeles Coroner's Office listed 50 of the 58 people dead as homicide victims. Forty-one of the victims were shot to death, seven were killed in traffic accidents, four died in fires, three were beaten to death, two were fatally stabbed, and one died of a heart attack.
Nearly a third of the rioters arrested were released because police officers were unable to identify individuals in the sheer volume of the crowd. In one case, officers arrested around 40 people stealing from one store- while they were identifying them, a group of another 12 looters were brought in. With the groups mingled, charges could not be brought against individuals for stealing from specific stores, and the police were forced to release them all.
Weeks after the rioting, 11,000 people continued to be arrested.
Rebuilding Los Angeles 
After three days of arson and looting, 3,767 buildings were burned  with over $1 billion in property damage. Donations were given to help with food and medicine and the office of State Senator Diane E. Watson provided shovels and brooms as racially mixed volunteers from all over the community helped clean. 13,000 police and troops patrolled the area protecting gas stations and food stores that were not affected by the looting,in which were able to reopen along with other areas such as the Universal Studios tour, dance halls, and bars. Many organizations stepped forward to rebuild Los Angeles; South Central's Operation Hope and Koreatown's Saigu and KCCD (Korean Churches for Community Development), they all raised millions to repair destruction and improve economic development. President George H.W. Bush signed a declaration of disaster; it activated Federal relief efforts for the victims of the looting and arson which included grants and low-cost loans to cover their property losses, the Rebuild LA program promised $6billion in private investment to create 74,000 jobs. Unfortunately, it didn’t go through after a few year and in contrast lost 50,000 jobs.
The majority of the local stores were never rebuilt  because, even though store owners had great desire to rebuild, they had trouble getting loans, myths about the area arose discouraging investment in the area and preventing growth of employment. Few of the rebuilding plans came to be because business investors as well as the community members rejected South L.A.
Today, billions of dollars have been put into renovating Hollywood and have cleaned up ‘crack neighborhoods.’ 
Residential Life 
Many Los Angeles residents were motivated to buy weapons for self-defense against further violence, though the 10-day waiting period in California law stymied those who wanted to purchase firearms while the riot was going on.
Surveying local residents in 2010, 77% percent of residents feel the economic situation in Los Angeles has significantly worsened. A population change occurred from 1992–2007; the black population dropped by 123,000 after the riots and grew more than 450,000 in Latino population. According to the Los Angeles police statistics, violent crime fell by 76% between 1992 and 2010 and tensions between racial groups have lessened; 60% of residents reported racial tension has improved in the past 20 years with decreased gang activity.
In popular culture 
See also 
Simultaneous 1992 riots:
Los Angeles riots:
- Dr. Dre, The Chronic – "The Day the Niggaz Took Over"
- N.W.A, Straight Outta Compton – "Fuck tha Police"
- Ice Cube, The Predator – "We Had To Tear This Muthafucka Up"
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- [dead link]
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- Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD pages 41–42
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- The American edition of the National Geographic Channel aired the program "The Final Report: The L.A. Riots" on October 4, 2006 10 pm EDT, approximately 27 minutes into the hour (including commercial breaks).
- Cannon, L. (2002). Official Negligence : How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD. Basic Books. ISBN 0-8133-3725-9
- CNN Documentary "Race + Rage: The Beating of Rodney King" aired originally on March 5, 2011, approximately 14 minutes into the hour (not including commercial breaks).
- The most accurate documented count of the dead may be the April 24, 2002 LA Weekly article, "The L.A. 53", by Jim Crogan. Using coroner's reports, police records and interviews, he documented the deaths of 53 people, including details about how they died.
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- Bill Cosby asks for peace during 1992 Los Angeles Riot
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- Webster Commission, The City in Crisis' A Report by the Special Advisor to the Board of Police Commissioners on the Civil Disorder in Los Angeles, Los Angeles: Institute for Government and Public Affairs, UCLA, 1992.
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Further reading 
- Afary, Kamran, Performance and Activism: Grassroots Discourse After the Los Angeles Rebellion of 1992, Lexington Books, 2009.
- Assembly Special Committee To Rebuild is Not Enough: Final Report and Recommendations of the Assembly Special Committee on the Los Angeles Crisis, Sacramento: Assembly Publications Office, 1992.
- Baldassare, Mark (ed.), The Los Angeles Riots: Lessons for the Urban Future, Boulder and Oxford: Westview Press, 1994.
- Cannon, Lou, Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD, Basic Books, 1999.
- Gibbs, Jewelle Taylor, Race and justice: Rodney King and O.J. Simpson in a house divided, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, c1996.
- Gooding-Williams, Robert (ed.), Reading Rodney King, Reading Urban Uprising, New York and London: Routledge, 1993.
- Hazen, Don (ed.), Inside the L.A. Riots: What really happened – and why it will happen again, Institute for Alternative Journalism, 1992.
- Jacobs, Ronald F., Race, Media, and the Crisis of Civil Society: From the Watts Riots to Rodney King, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
- Los Angeles Times, Understanding the Riots: Los Angeles Before and After the Rodney King Case, Los Angeles: Los Angeles Times, 1992.
- Song Hyoung, Min, Strange future: pessimism and the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.
- Wall, Brenda, The Rodney King rebellion: a psychopolitical analysis of racial despair and hope, Chicago: African American Images, c1992.
- Webster Commission, The City in Crisis' A Report by the Special Advisor to the Board of Police Commissioners on the Civil Disorder in Los Angeles, Los Angeles: Institute for Government and Public Affairs, UCLA, 1992.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: 1992 Los Angeles riots|
- The L.A. Riots: 15 Years after Rodney King from Time.com.
- Military operations during the 1992 Los Angeles riots – an account by a participating guardsman.
- Lessons in command and control from the L.A. riots – Parameters, journal of the Army War College.
- Flawed Emergency Response during the L.A. riots – article by Taubman Center for State and Local Government.
- The L.A. 53 – full listing of 53 known deaths during the riots, from the L.A. Weekly.
- L.A.'s darkest days – Christian Science Monitor retrospective and interviews with victims and participants.
- "Charting the Hours of Chaos". Los Angeles Times. April 29, 2002.
- 1992: The LA riots – an anarchist perspective characterizing the riots as political uprising.
- Of Illicit Appearance: The L.A. Riots/Rebellion as a Portent of Things to Come, Lewis Gordon, Truthout, May 12, 2012
- 20 Years After the L.A. Riots, Revisiting the Rationality of Revolt, Nigel Gibson, Truthout, May 12, 2012
- Urban Voyeur – black and white photographs taken during the riots.
- Los Angeles – A City Under Fire Part 1 (news clips montage)
- Los Angeles – A City Under Fire part 3 (raw news clips)
- Footage of the Rodney King beating.[dead link]
- Day 1 – Los Angeles Times/KTLA.[dead link]
- Day 2 (Part 1) – Los Angeles Times/KTLA.[dead link]
- Day 2 (Part 2) – Los Angeles Times/KTLA.[dead link]
- Day 3 – Los Angeles Times/KTLA.[dead link]