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Los Angeles Riot 1992,
Los Angeles, California
April 29, 1992

Last updated: 7 months ago

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In Los Angeles, California, four Los Angeles police officers that had been caught beating an unarmed African-American motorist in an amateur video are acquitted of any wrongdoing in the arrest. Hours after the verdicts were announced, outrage and protest turned to violence as the L.A. riots began. Protestors in south-central Los Angeles blocked freeway traffic and beat motorists, wrecked and looted numerous downtown stores and buildings, and set more than 100 fires.

On March 3, 1991, paroled felon Rodney King led police on a high-speed chase through the streets of Los Angeles County before eventually surrendering. Intoxicated and uncooperative, King resisted arrest and was brutally beaten by police officers Laurence Powell, Theodore Briseno, and Timothy Wind. Unbeknownst to the police, a citizen with a personal video camera was filming the arrest, and the 89-second video caught the police beating King with their batons and kicking him long after he was capable of resistance. The video, released to the press, caused outrage around the country and triggered a national debate on police brutality.

Rodney King was released without charges, and on March 15 Sergeant Stacey Koon and officers Powell, Wind, and Briseno were indicted by a Los Angeles grand jury in connection with the beating. All four were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and excessive use of force. Though Koon did not actively participate in the beating, as the commanding officer present at the scene he was charged with aiding and abetting. Powell and Koon were also charged with filing false reports.

Because of the uproar in Los Angeles surrounding the incident, the judge, Stanley Weisberg, was persuaded to move the trial outside Los Angeles County to Simi Valley in Ventura County. On April 29, 1992, the 12-person jury issued its verdicts: not guilty on all counts, except for one assault charge against Powell that ended in a hung jury. The acquittals touched off the L.A. riots, which grew into the most destructive U.S. civil disturbance of the 20th century.

Violence first erupted at the intersection of Florence Boulevard and Normandie Avenue in south-central Los Angeles. Traffic was blocked, and rioters beat dozens of motorists, including Reginald Denny, a white truck driver who was dragged out of his truck and nearly beaten to death by three African-American men. A news helicopter, hovering over the street, recorded the gruesome event. Los Angeles police were slow to respond, and the violence radiated to areas throughout the city. California Governor Pete Wilson deployed the National Guard at the request of Mayor Tom Bradley, and a curfew was declared. By the morning, hundreds of fires were burning across the city, more than a dozen people had been killed, and hundreds were injured.

Rioting and violence continued during the next 24 hours, and Korean shop owners in African-American neighborhoods defended their businesses with rifles. On May 1, President George Bush ordered military troops and riot-trained federal officers to Los Angeles and by the end of the next day the city was under control. The three days of disorder killed more than 60 people, injured almost 2,000, led to 7,000 arrests, and caused nearly $1 billion in property damage, including the burnings of more than 3,000 buildings.

Under federal law, the four officers could also be prosecuted for violating Rodney King’s constitutional rights. On April 17, 1993, a federal jury convicted Koon and Powell for violating King’s rights by their unreasonable use of force under color of law. Although Wind and Briseno were acquitted, most civil rights advocates considered the mixed verdict a victory. On August 4, Koon and Powell were sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

The Rodney King Riot of 1992 occurred in Los Angeles, California in response to a highly publicized incident of police brutality.  Rodney King, who had worked as a Dodgers Stadium usher, was arrested on charges of speeding, driving while intoxicated, and failing to yield.  The four responding police officers claimed that King had been high on drugs and was trying to attack them, prompting the police to beat him on the grounds of self defense.  An amateur photographer, George Holliday, was standing nearby and captured the attack on film.  The four officers were brought to court and tried on charges of assault.

During the trial, the officers argued that Rodney King’s body was always in the position to inflict harm on others.  The use of force was termed as “necessary” when police thought King was reaching for a weapon in his waistband.

At 3:00 p.m. on the day of April 29, 1992, the four police officers were acquitted of the assault charges.  The riot started soon after the announcement.  Around 4:15 p.m, a little over an hour after the acquittal was delivered, there were reports of looting in South Central Los Angeles.  By 5:45 p.m. there were numerous reports of motorists being assaulted in the streets and by 8:15 that evening, the first fatality was reported in the news.

Rioting occurred throughout the next few days, with the heaviest damage done in the South Central district of Los Angeles and “Koreatown,” which was located between black neighborhoods and Hollywood.  Koreans became the eventual targets of the rioting, as minorities claimed they mistreated both Latino and African American customers in their stores.

The rioting finally came to a halt on May 2, 1992 when 10,000 National Guardsmen, 3,500 military personnel, and the entire Los Angeles Police Department were deployed to the South Central district.  When all of the rioting was finally stopped, over 51 people were killed, 2,383 people were injured, 8,000 people were arrested, and over 700 businesses were burned.  Damages were estimated at about $1 billion to property.

- See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/rodney-king-riot-1992#sthash.jt8RGmZW.dpuf

The Rodney King Riot of 1992 occurred in Los Angeles, California in response to a highly publicized incident of police brutality.  Rodney King, who had worked as a Dodgers Stadium usher, was arrested on charges of speeding, driving while intoxicated, and failing to yield.  The four responding police officers claimed that King had been high on drugs and was trying to attack them, prompting the police to beat him on the grounds of self defense.  An amateur photographer, George Holliday, was standing nearby and captured the attack on film.  The four officers were brought to court and tried on charges of assault.

During the trial, the officers argued that Rodney King’s body was always in the position to inflict harm on others.  The use of force was termed as “necessary” when police thought King was reaching for a weapon in his waistband.

At 3:00 p.m. on the day of April 29, 1992, the four police officers were acquitted of the assault charges.  The riot started soon after the announcement.  Around 4:15 p.m, a little over an hour after the acquittal was delivered, there were reports of looting in South Central Los Angeles.  By 5:45 p.m. there were numerous reports of motorists being assaulted in the streets and by 8:15 that evening, the first fatality was reported in the news.

Rioting occurred throughout the next few days, with the heaviest damage done in the South Central district of Los Angeles and “Koreatown,” which was located between black neighborhoods and Hollywood.  Koreans became the eventual targets of the rioting, as minorities claimed they mistreated both Latino and African American customers in their stores.

The rioting finally came to a halt on May 2, 1992 when 10,000 National Guardsmen, 3,500 military personnel, and the entire Los Angeles Police Department were deployed to the South Central district.  When all of the rioting was finally stopped, over 51 people were killed, 2,383 people were injured, 8,000 people were arrested, and over 700 businesses were burned.  Damages were estimated at about $1 billion to property.

- See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/rodney-king-riot-1992#sthash.jt8RGmZW.dpuf

The Rodney King Riot of 1992 occurred in Los Angeles, California in response to a highly publicized incident of police brutality.  Rodney King, who had worked as a Dodgers Stadium usher, was arrested on charges of speeding, driving while intoxicated, and failing to yield.  The four responding police officers claimed that King had been high on drugs and was trying to attack them, prompting the police to beat him on the grounds of self defense.  An amateur photographer, George Holliday, was standing nearby and captured the attack on film.  The four officers were brought to court and tried on charges of assault.

During the trial, the officers argued that Rodney King’s body was always in the position to inflict harm on others.  The use of force was termed as “necessary” when police thought King was reaching for a weapon in his waistband.

At 3:00 p.m. on the day of April 29, 1992, the four police officers were acquitted of the assault charges.  The riot started soon after the announcement.  Around 4:15 p.m, a little over an hour after the acquittal was delivered, there were reports of looting in South Central Los Angeles.  By 5:45 p.m. there were numerous reports of motorists being assaulted in the streets and by 8:15 that evening, the first fatality was reported in the news.

Rioting occurred throughout the next few days, with the heaviest damage done in the South Central district of Los Angeles and “Koreatown,” which was located between black neighborhoods and Hollywood.  Koreans became the eventual targets of the rioting, as minorities claimed they mistreated both Latino and African American customers in their stores.

The rioting finally came to a halt on May 2, 1992 when 10,000 National Guardsmen, 3,500 military personnel, and the entire Los Angeles Police Department were deployed to the South Central district.  When all of the rioting was finally stopped, over 51 people were killed, 2,383 people were injured, 8,000 people were arrested, and over 700 businesses were burned.  Damages were estimated at about $1 billion to property.

- See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/rodney-king-riot-1992#sthash.jt8RGmZW.dpuf