Los Angeles Times


- Anthony Russo For The Times

In the five days of “no justice, no peace” mayhem that started on April 29, 1992, an estimated $1 billion of damage was done to the city and more than 60 people lost their lives. As the fires died down and the looting stopped, a stunned L.A. began to examine itself — its police, its civic structures, its divisions, its heart and soul. Southlande­rs caught up in the riots and their aftermath offer assessment­s of what happened next. South-Central with a pen. I was protecting my neighborho­od and writing about Korean grocers in South-Central. Nobody really knew what to make of the violence. We were all just pissed off at each other. It was a civil war. Every person for themselves.

One thing that changed is that we realized that every action affected the situation. Whether you looted, protected, shot firearms, burned buildings, protested, fought police, locked your doors, ran away, whatever — you made the moment. And that moment tore the city apart but also brought it new life, like a forest fire.

We are a better city for the pain, but we are also a city where much hasn’t changed. The same inequities and brutalitie­s still exist. So what does 25 years mean? Why y’all so focused on the past. We’ve got a lot of work to do. Screw 1992. Focus on 2022.

The riots marked the beginning of the end of the city’s distinct divisions by race, class and ethnicity. The upheaval removed the LAPD as the contentiou­s center of our civic life.

King’s beating and the riots vilified the LAPD around the world. N.W.A’s profane excoriatio­n of “tha police” had nailed it years earlier; but after 1992, everybody everywhere knew exactly which police they were talking about.

Joe Domanick covered the riots for LA Weekly. He is now associate director of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College. His latest book is “Blue: The LAPD and the Battle to Redeem American Policing.”

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