A 1992 Retrospective

“Saying that Columbus ‘discovered’ America is like saying it was an empty land and that the people who were there before weren’t worth living.” --Misael Bautista, one of several American Indians and Latinos who held a nightlong vigil on the eve of the 1992 Rose Parade to protest the selection of a direct descendant of Christopher Columbus as a parade grand marshal.

“I’m sorry.” --Convicted murderer Robert Alton Harris, moments before he became the first inmate to be executed in the state of California in 25 years.

“I felt he (Officer Laurence M. Powell) was guilty. But I couldn’t prove it to myself, so I had a real tough time, a real tough time putting in a not guilty verdict.” --One of the 12 jurors who acquitted four LAPD officers on all but one count in the March 3, 1991, beating of Rodney G. King.

“That trucker didn’t do anything to me. He was just white in the wrong place.” --From a written statement signed by Henry Keith Watson, one of the men accused of beating truck driver Reginald O. Denny nearly to death during the first day of rioting.


“It’s just like war. I’ll shoot and worry about the law later.” --Richard Rhee, owner of the California Market in Koreatown on the second night of the riots.

“If you win a case, you’re a hero. If you lose, you’re a goat. (Reiner) is toast. It goes beyond goat.” --Sam Singer, a political consultant who managed Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner’s 1990 campaign, assessing the impact of the not guilty verdicts returned for four officers accused of beating Rodney G. King.

“Excuse me, George Herbert, irregular-heart-beating, read-my-lying-lipping, slipping-in-the-polls, do-nothing, deficit-raising, make-less-money-than-Millie-the-White-House-dog-last-year, Quayle-loving, sushi-puking Bush! I don’t remember inviting your ass to my show.” --Arsenio Hall, responding to White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater’s assertion that Bush was considering appearances on “the same kind of media” that other presidential candidates had appeared on--with the exception of “The Arsenio Hall Show.”

“Clearly that night (when the riots began) we should have gone down there and shot a few people. In retrospect, that’s exactly what we should have done. We should have blown a few heads off. And maybe your television cameras would have seen that and maybe that would have been broadcast and maybe, just maybe, that would have stopped everything.” --Former Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, reminiscing about the civil unrest on his radio talk show.


“You get in my face, I’m going to fight back. You swing at me, I’m going to knock you off your feet. And you pull a gun, I’ll kill you.” --LAPD Officer Henry J. Cousine, one of 44 “problem officers” described by the Christopher Commission in its review of LAPD operations after the King beating.

“There are days when you think everything is OK. But then you sort of drift around, and you wake out of it and find yourself in your back yard, and you don’t know how you got there or how long you’ve been there.” --Theodore J. Briseno, one of the four officers who faces federal civil rights charges in the beating of Rodney G. King, describing his life since a jury acquitted him of state charges.

“This truce is kind of a skeptical thing for me right now. One minute you want to believe it, because you want this community to get better, but it seems like something always comes around to hinder you from believing.” --Yolanda Hannah, 18, after her 22-year-old brother, Jackie Winters, was slain by a rival gang member in spite of a truce between many of Los Angeles’ black gangs.

“Please have a good life. I want to know your children, and I want to know your grandchildren. And I want to baptize them, and I don’t ever want to bury one of la raza again. The gangbanging must stop. Please make it stop. If you do that, then I will know that you love me.” --Father Gregory J. Boyle, speaking to warring gang members during his final homily at the Dolores Mission Church.

“Exactly four years ago, my daughter died of AIDS. She did not survive the Reagan Administration. I am here because my son and I may not survive four more years of leaders who say they care but do nothing. I am in a race with the clock.” --Elizabeth Glaser, AIDS activist and Los Angeles resident, speaking at the Democratic National Convention.

“Sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug. When you lose, the campaign manager is the bug.” --Rose Kapolczynski, campaign manager for Democrat Barbara Boxer’s bid for the U.S. Senate (Boxer won).

“Most whites in America are not good enough on the race question, and we all understand that.” --Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) discussing the presidential race.

“This whole term male-bashing--if women did it for 30 years, we still wouldn’t even the score. I say, learn to laugh at yourself, like women have had to over the years. Develop a sense of humor. Or at least marry one.” --Comedian Diane Ford, responding to charges that the rash of dumb-men jokes in 1992 was part of a 20-year-onslaught by the most radical of America’s feminists.


“Attorneys have ruined the world. Attorneys have done enough damage to the people.” --James Sinclair, just before he killed his attorney and committed suicide in the Los Angeles County Law Library.

“I bid you a very heartfelt good night.” --Johnny Carson, 30-year host of NBC’s “Tonight Show,” in his final broadcast.