Apr 30 2007

LA Riots Special: Voices from the Past

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Rodney King Riots

On April 29th 1992, a predominantly white jury acquitted four LAPD officers in the videotaped beating of a black man named Rodney King. That evening existing unrest in Los Angeles, sparked by the verdict, resulted in the outbreak of an all-out riot that lasted five days. A total of 53 people died: 25 blacks, 16 Latinos, 8 whites, 2 East Asians and 2 West Asians. Approximately 3,600 fires were set, destroying 1,100 buildings. About 10,000 people were arrested. Stores owned by Korean and other Asian immigrants were widely targeted, although stores owned by whites and blacks were also targeted.

Three days after the violence began, President George H W Bush an announcement to deploy federal troops.

The Rodney King verdict triggered a violent response among residents. But what were the riots really about? Few in the media or government stopped to consider the extreme poverty, unemployment, and rampant police brutality in South Los Angeles, or anger over the tragic shooting of Latasha Harlins by a Korean grocery store owner in 1991. The videotaped beating of Rodney King was the spark that set the fire.

We heard what the president said about the riots. We also hear the voices of LA residents. A day after the announcement of the Rodney King verdict, KPFK reporter Nancy Clark spoke to many residents in and around South Los Angeles, including children, to get their reaction to what was happening. The interaction between the white reporter and mostly black residents is very instructive.

Special thanks to the Pacifica Radio Archives for these materials. To order the uncut material from the archives, call 1800-735-0230 or visit www.pacificaradioarchives.org.

13 responses so far

13 Responses to “LA Riots Special: Voices from the Past”

  1. Fresh Princeon 30 Dec 2007 at 10:22 am

    This is a very troble thing and how could this happend? and what happend to teh officers who hit the black man ??????

  2. rafaelon 31 May 2008 at 6:54 am

    Destiny brought me over to mexico in 1991 so i spend my new year 1992 down here, and i swear i did’nt know about this….It’s incredible LAPD has alot of RACISTAS against hispanic and black people, and i bet alot of white police officer got away of the bad behavior against hispanic and black people, look NOW, poor people man. how can you guys take it.

  3. ...on 23 Sep 2008 at 11:02 am

    free rodney king

  4. Vicenteon 05 Dec 2008 at 2:23 pm

    wheres rodney now? how many police was involved? did this happen in ’89 or ’92? cuz i was in los angeles at that time. VIVA MI PAIS. VIVA LA RAZA!!!

  5. DOOMERon 13 Apr 2009 at 11:24 am

    Riots will happen again, I am guessing this summer once people are out of money and hungry.

  6. Owen Edenon 27 Aug 2009 at 12:02 am

    What remember the most from the riots is that I could no longer go to the Ralphs in my own neighborhood because it burned to the ground. The aftermath of the riots is what I will NEVER forget. I hope it does not happen again. We only hurt ourselves when we destroy our own neighborhoods.

  7. Zaragosa Vargason 21 Oct 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Is this photo available for publication in a book manuscript? If so, how can this image be obtained?

  8. johnon 18 Jun 2010 at 8:49 pm

    rodney king had a rap sheet a mile long. was doing 100 mph and was high on pcp. driving that speed through black neighborhoods.after resisting arrest and trying to grab police weapons. police were obligated to stop him and subdue him at all costs. he could have killed innocent people.hes a piece of shit and they should have killed him.

  9. Leslyon 18 May 2011 at 6:21 pm

    @ #John. I completely agree with your point that RK needed to be subdued, he was a danger. However, have you seen the video clip that shows how they “subdued” him. How many police officers were there? Six? More than one, that’s for sure. The question isn’t about the danger that RK posed, it’s about the damage those particular officers caused. They lacked critical thinking and humanity. Yes, he needed to be apprehended, he did not need to be beaten. They crossed the line. The injustice happened to him, the trials were to bring justice back to all of us. If we as a society give anybody the authority to beat somebody senseless, than nobody is safe, especially those people who are “outsiders.” At any point any one of us could become those “outsiders” and percieved as those less deserving than what is right and just.

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