Adrenaline faded; sadness lingers: Reporter Greg Braxton recalls being sent into the chaos. Racial tensions have eased, but there’s still a long way to go.
Some staffers pointed out that several African American reporters from suburban sections — I was among them — were hastily dispatched into trouble spots while the predominantly white Metro staff stayed in the newsroom. Those reporters were “cannon fodder,” they charged.
When the danger had largely subsided, most of us were unceremoniously sent back to our offices without thanks. The controversy about diversity — and the lack of it — sparked heated staff meetings, and top editors moved quickly to increase the percentage of journalists of color.
Photo: A rioter attacks a car at Florence and Normandie after the violence began on April 29, 1992. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
Channeling a voice of Eastside L.A.: The riots broke George Ramos’ heart. But if he could see his once-smoldering city now, he’d love her again. His Eastside perseveres, despite feeling like bankers and economists staged their own riot.
Photo: A sign along Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times
Asian identity crisis fades to worries of everyday life: For one reporter, fear of being mistaken for Korean yields to concerns about gray hair and household finances. But tensions between older and newer immigrants are a lingering challenge.
Recently, I was jarred to read an essay that ran on the front page of this newspaper two decades ago. “Suddenly, I am scared to be Asian,” the author wrote. “More specifically, I am afraid of being mistaken for Korean.”
Those words were mine, a fourth-generation Chinese American, written as large swaths of L.A. were smoldering. I’m sure my remarks made some readers suspect I had slept through Political Correctness 101. Had the violence racking the city really rubbed me so raw?
It’s easy to forget how confounding the events of that spring were for Los Angeles.
Photo: In Koreatown, a security guard waits for trouble. Credit: Hyungwon Kang / Los Angeles Times
Another city, not our own: To live in Los Angeles during the riots was like waking up and seeing your own room through a distorting lens. Now L.A. has changed. We build and tear down and rebuild and glory in the forgetting.
Photo: National Guardsmen patrol near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Vermont Avenue as the ruins of stores smolder. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times
The intersection of Florence and Normandie in South LA is thought of the flashpoint for the 1992 LA Riots. People gathered at this corner to protest the acquittal of police officers who had beaten Rodney King. It was also on this corner where Americans watched the news as truck driver Reginald Denny was dragged out of his cab and beaten. We ask: Has the corner changed since 1992?
More here: kcrw.com/lariots
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The past still grips Rodney King: The beating victim says he’s at peace with all that’s happened to him and that he’d go through the night of March 3, 1991, again. Now out of work and nearly poor, he wears the physical and emotional scars of his ordeal.
As to why he wouldn’t change what happened that night, he has a theory. True, the beating and the first trial led to deadly violence. It fills him with guilt. How can he not feel responsible for what some still call “the Rodney King riots”? Yet good came of it. The convictions of Koon and Powell, he says, the moral weight that pushed his call to “get along” deep into the public consciousness — these things helped change the world.
Photo: Rodney G. King at his home in Rialto. King, whose beating by police was caught on videotape and then sparked the L.A. riots when the accused officers were acquitted, has a book coming out, timed with the 20th anniversary of those riots. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Steady hands, determination saved Reginald Denny as L.A. burned: Working on a multiracial team to save a white truck driver who was beaten during the L.A. riots was a defining moment for Madison Richardson, a surgeon and black man who was taught that race shouldn’t matter.
Photo: For 20 years, Dr. Madison Richardson has kept photographs, such as this one of Reginald Denny shortly after he arrived at the hospital, and other items from the L.A. riots. He’s even kept a Christmas card signed “Love, Reggie.” Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
April 30, 1992: On the second day of the Los Angeles riots, a man with a shopping cart full of diapers runs past a burning market on 3rd Street.
Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
Rodney King was on my mind a lot when the news first came out about Mark Duggan, the father of four who was shot to death by police in Tottenham last Thursday. Like the violence against King, the death of Duggan was the match that lit the fuse of a bomb that spread violence across a whole metropolis. How and why this happened in Los Angeles seems to connect in a lot of ways with the catastrophe in London.
The initial part of the story of the Los Angeles riots was rather different, though.