16th Anniversary of Los Angeles Riots

Two days after the riots started, somewhere near Normandie-photo taken by me

16 years ago today was the beginning of one of the biggest social upheavals in this city, The Los Angeles Riots (or Uprising for you KPFK listeners).

Whenever the riots are remembered, the discussion focuses on dichotomous forces: Black vs. Whites, Blacks vs. Koreans, Blacks vs. Police etc. What is rarely mentioned is that for some (this includes people of all ethnicities and races), the riots were the best time of their lives. I’m not trying to discount the death, violence or heavy repression that went along with this event. I think most of that has been well documented. However, I have many friends that participated in the riots and describe a festival atmosphere. They will wistfully recount tales of three day drunkenness, street parties and a sense of liberation. If you don’t believe me, it’s because these people were never asked their opinion or asked to share their stories. When they have, their perspective has been totally discounted. Just a different viewpoint on an event that’s been described as one of the worst times in Los Angeles history.

16 thoughts on “16th Anniversary of Los Angeles Riots

  1. I was living in Hollywood, the 6000 block of Franklin, at the time of the 92 riot. During the day, I went out to the streets of Hollywood to take photos, in the afternoons, I volunteered at a Red Cross shelter at Belmont High and at night enjoyed a BBQ on the roof of our apartment building with my neighbors as we watched the city burned

  2. The riots or as some would call the rebellion of 92. I was just ending jr high school. I had an Asian-American boyfriend, he wasn’t Korean-American, he was Japanese-American. I bring up his race, because for some odd reason he was involved in the riots.

    I remember he snuck in my window after a night of pillaging (i kept trying to leave, but my mom wouldn’t let me, she was such a killjoy) and he had bags and bags of hair relaxer. I don’t straighten my hair, but he saw black women on the cover of the boxes and thought it might be something I could use.

    He told me that people had guns and it was like a party and I should really try to get out of the house.

    Dude was crazy. He was so cute though…he looked like Christian Hasoi, but more skinny and more tall. I dated him all the way through high school.

    If any of you were involved in the riots and saw an Asian kid looting, that was my man.


  3. This will be last comment, until Thursday, because I’ve got lots of stuff I need to do and I’ve been wasting way too much time online.

    I think one aspect of the riots that is also not discussed was how racist the cops were against the Korean-American merchants. They let their shops just burn to the ground. I think it was odd how they made sure no one went west, but the Korean-American merchants had to fend for themselves with rifles on top of their stores. Unfair, very unfair.

    I really have to commend the Korean-American community’s response to that, they could have taken that experience and been completely pissed about the whole situation, which I’m sure many were, but it seems like the vast majority (at least the more political) took that as an opportunity to build some relations with the African-American community. They made more of an effort than I’ve seen anyone else whose store got burned to the ground owing to misdirected anger.

    If you go into Korean stores now, many times you’ll see a Latino or black kid working in there. What other mom and pop stores owned by ethnic people have people of different ethnicities working in the store? None, Korean-American stores are the only ones.


    Anyways though it was a party to lots of people. The economy was very, very bad at that point and it was bound to happen. I predict the next party will be taken place some time around 2010.


  4. “April 29th, give power to the people or we might just see a sequel..”- Ice Cube “Wicked” (92)

    April 29th, well actually, the 30th was the day the school buses stopped coming to my school. It was very eerie seeing this Northridge school 1/2 empty, since many of the school buses (from over the hills) didn’t show up. On the morning of the 30th, our bus driver played the CV radio instead of the stereo (Helluva Helluva) so the kids could hear all the drama. It was pretty wild hearing the other drivers stuck somewhere, or reporting no kids at the stops.

    I lived a couple of blocks away from where Rodney King got beat (Lake View Terrace-SFV), and it was quiet as can be. Well actually, some dude ran a truck into a furniture store on April 29. We still played our scheduled little league game that night… seemingly far removed.

  5. I’ll bet the Lions vs. Christians events at the Roman Coliseum were a real blast to lots of folks too in those days. The L.A. riots just showed how much closer we all are to our primal savage nature than to the civilized people we like to think we are. It just takes a little chaos, like if we lost all electricity and all the Police dept. tomorrow, I’d bet we’d be tearing each other apart in the streets within a week. 2000 years of so-called civilization could all come down in a matter of days. Then all you cop-haters would be crying (like beeatches) for those corrupt SOB’s in blue to come back and save your lives!
    By the way, it’s freezing here in Hell because Browne might be right about something.
    I agree that another riot is due. I look forward to the next one for 3 reasons.
    1. Property values are too high now, if you look at riot history timelines, prices go down right after.
    2. Too many “fair weather” transplants have moved here in the past few years. When the next riot hits, it’s going to look like the L.A. Marathon just for White People as they rush to get out of town! (an earthquake would help this as well)
    3. I’ve got my eye on this awesome 70″ Plasma Screen…………

  6. During the riots they burned down my family’s favorite place to buy me crappy clothes: FedCo 🙁

    When I went back to Junior High School a bunch of kids had brand new shoes, pants, and Raiders parkas. They laughed pretty hard when they were asked to write the “What Did You Do Last Summer?” essay at the beginning of the school year.

    I remember my mom or dad saying something about how most of the areas that were being burned and looted in South L.A. had stores and businesses that had been closed since the last riot in L.A. (the 1965 Watts riots).

  7. “It just takes a little chaos, like if we lost all electricity and all the Police dept. tomorrow, I’d bet we’d be tearing each other apart in the streets within a week. 2000 years of so-called civilization could all come down in a matter of days. Then all you cop-haters would be crying (like beeatches) for those corrupt SOB’s in blue to come back and save your lives!”

    Not necessarily, if anything the riots proved that despite the chaos (or who knows because of it?)random people can come together to accomplish tasks cooperatively. According to friends, strangers helped each other out in various ways. Tales of mutual aid in the midst of urban unrest don’t make for good TV news. One memorable moment was TV anchor Bree Walker commenting on the looters, “They look like they’re having fun, those monsters!.”

  8. “Then all you cop-haters would be crying (like beeatches) for those corrupt SOB’s in blue to come back and save your lives!”

    Crying like a bitch? Hey man I’m got platinum ovaries. Woman doesn’t equal weak.

    Maybe that’s the women you surround yourself with, so you can feel like a big man.

    Dude I would welcome everyone taking responsibility for self. I think gov’t makes people like animals, because they no longer have to think, they just do what they have to do. Go to work, come home, fill out paperwork.

    The gov’t turns us into wild animals. We are on our own civilized animals that work together, but the gov’t and capitalist know that kind of thing leads to the end of exploitation. The ends of the very, very rich and the very, very poor.

    I think you could possibly be brainwashed Satan.


  9. Browne, I’m the mirror image of you, except on the other side of the coin.
    We’re both brainwashed and both full of shit most of the time. I’m just more willing to admit it than you.

    You are correct. Many good people did many good things as they always will. But wasn’t it scary to see how a small group of maniacs could create such an overwhelming environment of terror and cast such a negative light on an otherwise great city? My point is that it takes years to build up something good and only minutes to tear it down.

  10. I am total bullshit Satan, so you’re wrong. I embrace my bullshit and smear it over the internet. 😉

    While I feel for your family’s lost of Fedco Ubray, that was kind of funny how you put it…

  11. um I was about 10 yrs old but I do remember watching it on TV and the whole curfew thing. It was actually exciting and scary watching it as a kid, After the riots I remember going down the 110 fwy with my parents and looking out the window before the sound walls were up and seeing all the burnt down homes it was actully an amazing site at the time..

  12. I can’t give any specifics, but yeah, some people had a good time during that little bit of excitement. I even saw white people joining the impromptu wealth redistribution committee.

  13. You know the interesting thing about conservatives? That they embrace the whole white americana thing like a warm overcompensatory blanket, but then resort to the sniper/guerilla style anonymous attack intorduced to them by nonwhite nonamerican people.

    I was in 8th grade during the riots, and went down to SouthCen the second night with my cousins. We drove by a dead body lying around Hooper and Washington and went back home. A few months later my dad bought the dopest furniture set.

  14. Two things come to mind during that period, I had rented a tile saw from a rental yard in Glendale prior to the riot, and after cutting tile and watching the city burn, I went to retun the saw.. and it was strange to see several black folk renting generators…But then it was also strange to see the National Guard posted in front of Boys market on York and Figueroa!

  15. Man I used to live next to that Fedco. I remember going in the street and watching it burn to the ground. I was kinda happy I hated that Fedco.

  16. 16 yrs. already? Where does time go. I’m from Mpls. and was still here when the riots happened. I remember the odd, strained looks btwn. blacks and whites for the next three to five days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *