On April 29, Los Angeles marks the 25th anniversary of the riots that engulfed the city in 1992 following the acquittal of four Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers who were videotaped beating motorist Rodney King.
Three of the four officers were white; King, who died in 2012, was black. (Two officers were later convicted in a federal civil rights trial.)
As Bay Area public radio station KQED recalls:
Fury over the acquittal — stoked by years of racial and economic inequality in the city — spilled over into the streets, resulting in five days of rioting in Los Angeles. It ignited a national conversation about racial and economic disparity and police use of force that continues today.
The acquittals were announced around 3 p.m.; less than three hours later, the unrest began.
Residents set fires, looted and destroyed liquor stores, grocery stores, retail shops and fast food restaurants. Light-skinned motorists — both white and Latino — were targeted; some were pulled out of their cars and beaten.
The reaction to the acquittal in South Central Los Angeles — now known just as South Los Angeles — was particularly violent. At the time, more than half of the population there was black. Tension had already been mounting in the neighborhood in the years leading up to the riots: the unemployment rate was about 50 percent, a drug epidemic was ravaging the area, and gang activity and violent crime were high.
During the riots, a white trucker, Reginald Denny, was nearly beaten to death by gang members, and footage of the beating was captured overhead. Four black bystanders intervened and saved Denny by driving him to the hospital.
In the years since then, there has been significant improvement in the relationship between the LAPD and minority communities in the city. For that reason, the marches of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014 caught many observers by surprise.
During the riots, King pleaded for calm: “I just want to say – you know – can we all get along?”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak