The chairman of a newly established Assembly committee to investigate the Los Angeles riots vowed Thursday to "burn this state down" if the city returns to the way it was before the verdicts in the Rodney G. King beating trial spawned days of rage.
"If it gets back to normal, we'll burn this state down," Assemblyman Curtis Tucker Jr. (D-Inglewood) told about 2,000 demonstrators who marched on the Capitol. "Los Angeles should never get back to normal. We're tired of normal. We want justice."
The crowd, which throughout the rally chanted "Fire Up--Can't Take No More!" and "No Justice! No Peace!" cheered as Tucker made the comment.
In an interview after the rally, Tucker said his comment was not so much a threat as a prediction of what would happen if the Legislature and others supported the status quo.
If that happens, Tucker said, "we're throwing a match on a powder keg."
Tucker joined more than a dozen politicians, clergy and civil rights activists who urged the peaceful crowd to keep to the streets until they are satisfied that civil rights are ensured for all.
The march and rally were organized by Benjamin L. Hooks, executive director of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, who mocked those who have called for law and order in Los Angeles while doing nothing to ensure that minorities are treated fairly by the judicial system.
"If you want to have peace for somebody you've got to have peace for everybody," Hooks said.
Earlier Thursday, Tucker was named by Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco) to head the inquiry, which will begin with a tour of riot-torn areas on Saturday to assess the need for state legislation and services.