For 20 years I have dreaded this time of year, when
the 1992 L.A. riots and Rodney King are brought to the forefront.
I am sorry King was beaten by police; I am sorry the jury brought back a verdict that was not popular with many people; I am sorry the riots ever happened.
You see, my 24-year-old son was one of the 54 people who died because of the riots. He died being a good Samaritan. I miss him every day of my life.
King said of the videotape of his beating, “Now I laugh, I smile, when I see it.” It is obvious that he has not learned much in 20 years, whereas I’ve learned to deal with the pain.
Shame on you, Rodney King; I am one of 54 families not laughing or smiling.
The day before the start of the 1992 riots, my wife and I bought a used baby bed from a nice mom in Hawthorne. Two days later, when the riots were in full swing, I drove on the 405 Freeway to pick up the bed. I was the only car on the 405 at 4 p.m. — weird. We could smell the smoke from the riots, even in Santa Monica.
I was 13 during the 1965 Watts riots. We lived in the heart of the riot zone, where there were National Guard soldiers on every block. My dad sold cars in Encino then and drove home after midnight. Every block east of Crenshaw Boulevard, National Guardsmen, pointing their rifles, stopped my dad’s car.
I will never forget the ’65 or ’92 riots.
To this day, I can’t understand how anyone could possibly look at the videotape of the King beating and conclude that no wrongdoing took place.
With great interest I read the Patt Morrison interview of King. I remember his beating in 1991 and the riots that followed. Over the years, I read about King’s life, shaking my head and wondering what could have been.
His frank and genuine responses to Morrison’s questions give me hope as to where he is going. Time will tell, but after finishing the article, I caught myself not shaking but nodding my head.
As a native of Watts and a current stakeholder in the community, I am happy to see The Times recapping this event, but how can people fully reflect on what you write when the enormous complexity of the event is simplified so greatly?
How could any section titled “Key figures and where they are now” list Damian Williams and not Elvira Evers, the pregnant Compton woman who was shot in the belly but whose unborn baby survived? And who exactly were those mysterious and unnamed “two men and two women” who helped Reginald Denny after he nearly died following a blow to the head with a brick by Williams?
As you highlight the worst elements of the events of 1992, do not ignore the many examples of righteousness that for me are the real points of an effective reflection.
I grew up near the flashpoint of the riots at Florence and Normandie avenues. I can remember my dad taking our family to the Big Donut for a special treat, so it was very sad to see the upheaval at that intersection on TV that first day.
Relations between South L.A. residents and the Los Angeles Police Department have improved, but I was disappointed to read Officer Michael Shea’s comment about seeing “a Mexican lady on the roof [of her car] and her kids grabbing things from the shelves and throwing them inside.” I am not condoning what she was doing for one minute, but did she have a sign on her chest saying “I am a Mexican”?
We don’t know if she was Mexican. Shea should have said a Latin woman. Some things don’t change.
Kudos to Manuel Pastor and Kafi Blumenfield for their wonderful and insightful Op-Ed article on how South L.A. and the rest of the city revitalized itself after the riots. It reiterated the fact that activism is always essential in this country, whether in Los Angeles or elsewhere.
The whole country recently got a little taste of what Los Angeles experienced in 1992 with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Whether serious change comes out of that is another question, but I think Pastor’s and Blumenfield’s statement that the U.S. is on the brink of rebellion clouded in uncertainty is a poignant one.
I guess only time will tell.