20 years ago today our beloved City of Angels was in chaos. 20 years ago today we were classified as a disaster zone. 20 years ago today you couldn’t look outside without seeing the smoke or hearing the broken glass and shattered screams. Some may have already forgotten it ever happened and to others it’s simply a blurb in a history text book but the truth is that the LA Riots of 1992 were a very real event that should not be forgotten.
The scene in 1992 Los Angeles was one of heated racial tensions. 60% of the LAPD was white and minorities were facing heavy prejudices from law enforcement. The spark that ignited the flame came after the beating of a black LA native named Rodney King. The LAPD officers who were charged with having beaten Rodney, who gained national notoriety for what was done to him, were acquitted. That acquittal drove the city into pandemonium. The outcry started as a call for justice but eventually unraveled into a scene of greater depravity than had ever been seen in our country before.
Store windows were shattered, cars were attacked, fires were started, people were shot—and there was seemingly no one to stop the insanity. The LAPD didn’t have enough man power to stem the riots and so the National Guard was finally called in. After the initial 3 days of rioting the destruction had resulted in 55 people dead, 1,573 businesses destroyed, and a total cost of $1 billion dollars. Two of the most memorable scenes from the LA riots were the assault and beating of Reginald Denny, a trucker who was just driving through the city, and the murder of an unarmed minority school girl named Latasha Harlins. The thing that was most striking about the LA riots was that, due to video technology, the scenes of destruction and chaos were televised as never before.
In this year, the 20th anniversary of the riots, Rodney King has published his book, The Riot Within, to give his view on LA riots and the mind-set that led to them.
One of the promises of AA says that, “We shall not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.” This means that sometimes things must be learned the hard way and if we do make a mistake we should learn from it and do our best to never repeat it. If we were to shut the door on our past, we might let it fade into obscurity. By forgetting how horrible our mistakes were, we might lose the strength to continue on in sobriety.
The LA riots were a horrific tragedy in the history of Los Angeles. The only way we can make sure that they never happen again is to honor those who were victims during the riots and to constantly be improving ourselves.
What do you remember about the LA Riots? Share your thoughts in the comments below.