CBS2 anchor Pat Harvey takes a look back at one of the most destructive urban uprisings in American history in a half hour special “Eye on Our Community: The L.A. Riots — 20 Years Later,” which will be rebroadcast on Saturday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. on KCAL9.
How far has Los Angeles come in healing the wounds inflicted during the week that it took officials to restore order 20 years ago?
Pat Harvey looks back at what caused the civil unrest and what relationships have changed within Los Angeles among ethnic groups and the LAPD.
Also leaders give their forecast of the city’s future. Could a riot like 20 years ago ever happen again? We ask those intimately involved in the community now who were directly effected by the riots in 1992.
EYE ON OUR COMMUNITY
The L.A. Riots: 20 Years Later
Hosted by Pat Harvey
Saturday, April 28
7:30 p.m. on KCAL9
Where were you living in Los Angeles and how did the riots effect you 20 years ago?
Memories Of The LA Riots
I was 18 years old and lived with my family in a mostly white community not far from the center if the riots. My father was an LAPD detective at the time. I remember watching the riots begin on TV and my dad immediately began to get ready to report for work even before receiving the call from his supervisor. I remember he was taking a shower when the call came. I remember begging my dad not to go…because I was afraid he would be killed. I had never seen him in a police uniform until that day. We grew up treating everyone as equal no matter what race they were. None if it made sense and everyone was so worked up over it all. I recall the men in our neighborhood held a meeting with a plan to protect the street if necessary. It was an intense time for anyone living in L.A.
-Melinda Call, Fairfax, Va.
I was at LAC USC Medical Center where we watched Reginal Denny get struck with the brick – my supervisor a few minutes later told me to report to the Sheriffs Emergency Operations Center. I remember waiting there, operations center was full, and the Sheriffs chief of the operations center looking at the LAPD representatives there and asking them if Chief Gates required assistance – county and state resources waiting to move on and the word of the chief and “nothing.” The people ran crazy and things began to burn. To this day knowing sheriff and highway patrol resources staging in north county if they were requested in the early hours if this whole riot thing would have past as a minor disturbance other than the full scale riot.
-Michael V., Los Angeles
I must have been about 8 yrs old. I think that was a major reality check as a child of where I lived and how poor my community was. For the first time I saw fear in a lot of ppl. From the building behind us burning, to ppl just shooting everywhere, to my parents and neighbors being scared to going to go get us food. Even tho they came bk with free food. Thank Jesus for the lady who gave us all shelter.
-Gina, Los Angeles
I was 13 at the time and coming out of school when I became aware of the verdict on the news. I was stunned by the result of the case as I told myself the evidence is clear so I how could they get away with this? The next thing I remember is seeing on the news the crowds gathering on the corner of Florence and Normandie and well, you know the rest. I was seeing our city literally implode and it became a lot more real when the looting and burning came into my back yard. I grew up in East Hollywood and if anybody remembers there was a Hollytron which was an electronic store owned by Korean Businessman. Looters were anxious to break into there store but they fended them off with their own guns. A day later the businesses just south of the Hollytron go up in flames. The Circuit City by my house was not to so lucky as it got swept clean. I remember a news camera filming on this man was carrying a TV and once he noticed that he was being filmed, he pulled out a gun and ran off. I remember standing on top of the roof of my apartment and hearing gunshots and clouds of smoke. It literally felt like hell on earth for those few days. The citizens of LA just decided to take matters into their own hands and it was an LA that was under siege.
-José V., Pomona
I was a California Army National Guardsman, I was 1st State Activated, then Federally activated for the Riots. I am a So Cal Native, but living, working and going to college up North. In several CA National Guard and Reserve Units in that area, there were many Rednecks with extreme racist attitudes. I had to pull rank on these pin heads, and settle them down, ( that is put in the most sanitized version I can give you, I had to use some 4 letter words to get my point across to these cone heads) They were too stupid to realize that we were going to occupy and point weapons at and possibly shoot AMERICAN CITIZENS ON AMERICAN SOIL ! Now I deal with similar cone heads in the Trayvon Martin Case. I don’t know what happened except, It happened in FLA, A kid died, Zim pulled the trigger, let the judge, jury and evidence sort it out. But we are on the precipice of a similar if not more dangerous situation. There are more details about my time in LA, but I could type for an hour, or more….
I was in pacoima with buddy of mine on van nuys Blvd on that day just minding our business when all of a sudden rush hour stopped and hell,violence,and distorted scream of frightened people and ravage people all around us I remember telling my friend when will mankind and society know their limitation after that I ran to myron’s house with fear not knowing if I am going home dead or alive I wont forget it and what effected me was the sheer impact of fear and nightmare and a lesson in life to get along with each other I wont forget it, wont forget it.
-Hector H., San Fernando
The 1992 Los Angeles Riots left an indelible mark on Fred Heinrich, a Film Editor and Owner of Wildwood Film Services, one of the first independent commercial editorial companies in Hollywood. With his talent, high end equipment, and access to industry professionals Fred reached out to diverse low-income and minority youth and provided FREE hands-on learning and job placement services. What started with 12 students has grown to 494 alumni. 35% Female, 61% Latino, 20% African American, 9% Caucasian, 8% Asian/Pacific Islanders and 2% Middle Eastern. Students come from broken or abusive homes with family members who are unemployed, addicted, incarcerated, nonexistent, in fear of being deported, or with life-threatening illnesses. Today, over 98% of our alumni attend college. Over 50% have been placed in industry jobs. They are building skills, contacts, careers and becoming union members. Welcome to Inner-City Filmmakers!
-Fred H., Los Feliz