UPDATED: 7:55 a.m., April 29, 2022
Originally published: Jan. 11, 2022
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots.
A Black motorist, Rodney King was beaten by police in March 1991. The incident was recorded on a VHS tape-recorder by George Holliday from his apartment balcony. King was struck by police batons over 50 times. As a result, he suffered 11 fractures, as well as other injuries.
The footage was released to the local television station KTLA, then broadcast to the world. On April 29, 1992, the four officers recorded on video savagely beating the unarmed Black driver were acquitted and the city of Los Angeles erupted.
Also known as the ‘Rodney King Riots’, Los Angeles was enthralled in racially sparked riots, which lasted more than six days. Thousands of Angelenos took to the streets in an especially violent display of protest.
One of the officers acquitted, Sergeant Stacey Koon, needed a police escort just to leave the courtroom after the verdict was read.
Three decades later, King’s daughter recalled how “crazy” she found the riots.
“I don’t agree with the violence, of burning things up,” Lora King told Newsweek to mark the anniversary. “But I understand the language of not being heard.”
She described the lingering trauma from being such a young witness to that type of brutality against her own father.
“It’s something that still haunts me, still to this day,” Lora King continued. “It’s extremely hard for adults to watch so imagine a 7-year-old child watching her father. I really don’t wish that on anyone.”
The L.A. Riots was one of the most devastating events in Los Angeles history. Violence raged through the city leaving civilians injured and businesses ruined forever. It is important to look back at moments in our past, so we are not doomed to repeat the same mistakes in our future. Sadly, today much hasn’t changed when it comes to Blacks in America and police brutality. But the past can still teach us lessons. Here are five important facts about the ‘Rodney King Riots’.
Korean Americans During The Los Angeles Riots
Korean Americans living in Los Angeles were heavily impacted by the riots. Some faced physical harm, while others had their stores and businesses looted. An estimated 2,300 Korean-owned stores in southern California were looted or burned during the riots. Almost half of the property damage reported was from Korean-owned businesses.
Bill Cosby’s Final Episode Of “The Cosby Show” Aired On The Second Night Of The Riots
Bill Cosby took to the airwaves on the final episode of his hit series “The Cosby Show” to tell rioters to stop and watch the program. Cosby would appear on television that day to politely ask viewers who were participating in the riots to stay home and what the series finale, instead of hitting the streets.
The Local Media Gave The World An Inside Look Into The Riots
L.A. local news played a whole role in the world being able to witness the riots. Using a news helicopter, local media was able to capture live moments during the riots that left the world stunned. A news chopper flew over the riots broadcasted live to the world, white trucker Reginald Denny was cornered by rioters and struck violently in the head with a brick. This moment sent the national media into a frenzy. Violence and tension in the streets of Los Angeles were on display for the whole world to witness.
The National Guard’s Presence
During the riots, more than 1,000 Marines, 600 Army soldiers and 6,500 National Guard troops were sent to patrol the streets of Los Angeles. Soldiers from the California National Guard, the United States Military and officers from several law enforcement agencies all took place in helping end the violence and looting.
The Horrific Number of Victims
Sixty-three people were killed, 2,383 people were injured, more than 12,000 were arrested after the riots. There was more than an estimated $1 billion in property damage, most of which took place in Koreatown.
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