On Wednesday, April 29, 1992, four hours after a mostly white jury found four L.A.P.D. officers not guilty in their prolonged (and videotaped) beating, 14 months earlier, of fleeing black motorist Rodney King, thousands of people in Los Angeles [and later in other cities: San Francisco, Las Vegas, Seattle, New York, Atlanta, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Birmingham (MS), and Omaha] took to the streets committing acts of violence, looting and arson, events TV brought live to a shocked America.
 
Superficially, the riots may have been triggered by the seemingly unfair verdict in a case about a beating that became recognized globally, but the roots of the ethnic rift went much deeper. Blacks, who were hit worst by a nationwide recession, felt further squeezed by the growing influx of low-wage migrant Latino workers and superior-acting Korean shop owners into the mostly African-American neighborhoods. With an extremely poor relationship with police going back decades, the perceived continued injustice against them was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
 
The wave of destruction spread from South Central to downtown, Inglewood, Pasadena, Hollywood, Koreatown, among others. Mayor Tom Bradley issued a State of Emergency (including a curfew and the closing of public and private schools.) Governor Pete Wilson activated the National Guard (4,000 as well as 1,700 federal agents.) President George H.W. Bush called for national calm. A shaken Rodney King pleaded on national television: “Can we all just get along?”
 
Six days later, the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, “the worst and costliest race riot in U.S. History,” according to The Christian Science Monitor, ended. The toll: 54 dead; 4,000 injured; 12,000 arrested; and millions distressed. 3,600 fires destroyed 1,100 buildings; and damages of all sorts approached $1.5 billion.
 
That weekend, Rebuild L.A., a major development effort headed by 1984 Summer Olympics Committee’s Peter Ueberroth, was formed, creating $1.4 billion in business investments in riot-torn South Central (until its charter ended in 1997.) On Saturday, 30,000 people attended a Peace rally. Thousands of individuals, known and unknown, came to the aid of the nation’s people, and helped in every way they could. Jerry Seinfeld, along with  longtime friend George Wallace, held two benefit performances in an effort to use laughter as a means to heal the city, with proceeds going to Rebuild L.A. By year’s end, Police Chief Daryl Gates had resigned, and on April 17, 1993, a federal jury found two of the four officers guilty. The famous federal Christopher Commission found occasions of racism and institutional brutality within the L.A.P.D., and made several recommendations.
 
This is a vital race-relations story, and CNN has been vigilant in following up on it, particularly by doing a fifth and tenth anniversary coverage. Twenty seven years earlier, a highway patrolman’s arrest of a black motorist sparked the 1965 Watts Riots during which 34 people died, another 1,000 were injured and 4,000 arrested. 600 buildings were involved for a total bill of $40 million.
 
Some of the photos in this collage were obtained from various sources and websites, including Stan Chambers,  Hyungwon Kang, Urban Voyeur, and Fragments. 
A great apology to those who were and remain hurt, and a great thanks to all those who ventured out to assist during this awful tragedy, and who today help the less fortunate.
 
 
What:  
    Los Angeles Riots
 
When:
    April 29 to May 4, 1992
 
Why:  
    Perceived Racial Injustice
 
Toll:  
    54 dead; 4,000 injured;
    12,000 arrested; 3,600 fires;
    1,100 buildings destroyed;
    $1.5 Billion in damages.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
15 years ago