Bob Hipolito: 'We Didn't Do Anything Wrong.'
I'm the one in the photo on the left-hand side. The good-looking one.
The picture was shot at 103rd and Compton. It looked like that picture. It was real smoky. And obviously dark. I was in the Glendale infantry unit. They sent us in first 'cause we were the only all-white unit. There were other units closer but they decided they didn't know what the reaction would be to interracial troops — at least that was what we heard. So we got sent.
I grew up in Glendale. I'd never been to South L.A. [It wasn't like] the slums and ghettos of New York. Instead, the houses were all nice and tidy. It looked pretty affluent to me. Parts of the San Fernando Valley seemed worse.
We got activated on Friday the 13th. The governor in his infinite wisdom activated us at 5 p.m., which means they had to feed us, 'cause we officially started at 6 p.m. But they didn't have any food, so they commandeered several restaurants in Glendale. We went to Bob's.
There was nobody on the freeway, it was shut down. They stopped our convoy near the Convention Center. A convoy of Marines going the other way had trucks of mortar ammunition. They handed the crates over the center divide.
There was a park at about Manchester. They told us to dig foxholes. They quickly transferred us to Will Rogers Park.
I was at the tail end of our infantry company, and that guy [Times photographer John Malmin] came up with an entourage of officers. He snapped a picture, and it flashed. Flashes weren't what they wanted to have for fear they'd be shot at.
I saw that picture years ago, and thought, gee, it looks familiar. And then I saw the photographer's obituary that said where it was taken. So I asked my wife if that looks like me, and she said, yeah, that's your posture. It was taken on Friday the 13th, probably at 11:30 or 12 at night.
We were only trained for combat, not civil disobedience. The National Guard trained us how to handle civil disobedience after that. People that we talked to were innocent civilians that were just terrified. They were happy we were there.
The riots only lasted five hours after we got there. They had been going for three days. We snuffed it real quick. It was just guard duty after that.
We were trained to do something and we did it and went on about our lives. As far as I'm concerned, we didn't do anything wrong. It was by the book.
Stan Diamond: 'We Didn't Deserve What We Got'
Stan Diamond, 27, was working in his father's furniture store, Nat Diamond Empire Furniture on Central Avenue and 43rd Street, when he saw TV reports about the rioting. Today, Diamond, 67, is the second-generation proprietor of Nat Diamond Empire Furniture, now in Inglewood.
I was there the day [the rioting started]. We saw on television that it was going on. People were turning cars over, they were doing a lot of vandalism. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were getting out of the store, and somebody threw a Molotov cocktail and it landed right on the curb, right before our front door. Luckily, we got out safely.
It was like a nightmare. On television we were seeing pictures of our store and people walking out with ranges and sofas and TVs. We called the police and they said, "Well, if you value your life, you'll stay away."
The front part of the store was saved. The fire door automatically closed after there was so much heat. We had maybe 10,000 square feet left in that store.
We went back in '67, and we reopened that store. And it was open until around '84. We had another store on Adams near Crenshaw. That store was completely burnt in the '92 riot. After that, we moved to Inglewood.