On the afternoon of April 29, 1992, a jury in Ventura County acquitted four LAPD officers of beating Rodney G. King. The incident, caught on amateur videotape, had sparked national debate about police brutality and racial injustice. The verdict stunned Los Angeles, where angry crowds gathered on street corners across the city. The Los Angeles riots would become one of the worst in the nation's history. The flash point was a single intersection in South L.A., but it was a scene eerily repeated in many parts of the city in the hours that followed.
Then Mayor Tom Bradley called a local state of emergency and then Gov. Pete Wilson ordered the National Guard to activate 2,000 reserve soldiers. During six days of rioting, more than 60 people died amid the looting and fires and more than 2,000 people were injured. A year later, a federal jusry would find officers Stacey C. Koon and Laurence M. Powell guilty of violating King's civil rights. Officers Theodore J. Briseno and Timothy E. Wind were acquitted for their role in the arrest and beating. King drowned in the pool of his Rialto home in 2012. He was 47.
The LAPD's better relationship with the community, along with plummeting crime and less graffiti, illustrate improvements. But frustration, isolation and the lack of enough jobs still plague the area.
Many agree that the black community and the city have not made enough progress since the riots. But changes in the LAPD may be a bright spot.
Los Angeles-area high school students find lessons about the 1992 riots gripping and galvanizing — when their teachers have time to turn the focus away from standardized tests.
Nearly 20 years after the 1992 L.A. riots, residents say the city is safer and relations between its racial and ethnic groups are significantly better than they were in 1992, according to a new survey.