Twenty years ago Sunday, Los Angeles erupted into destructive riots after the verdict in the Rodney King trial. The violence lasted six days and left more than 50 dead and over $1 billion in damage. NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates remembers; she lived in the one of the neighborhoods that went up in flames.
Several years ago, I interviewed Karl Fleming for the 40th anniversary of the Watts riots. He was a veteran journalist who'd covered the civil rights movement in the in the 1960s for Newsweek.
A fire burns out of control at the corner of 67th St. and West Blvd. in South Central Los Angeles on April 30, 1992. Hundreds of buildings burned when riots erupted after the verdicts in the Rodney King case were announced.
The Los Angeles riots began 20 years ago Sunday, when a jury acquitted four police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King in 1992.
While the ashes were still smoldering, then-Mayor Tom Bradley announced a new organization that would repair the shattered city, Rebuild L.A. Its mission was to spend five years harnessing the power of the private sector to replace and improve on what was lost. While it created a lot of hope, it created even more disappointment.
William Lawlis Pace died in California this week. He holds the record for the person alive the longest with a bullet in his head. Back in 1917, his brother accidentally shot him with a rifle. Doctors left the bullet in place, feeling it would do more damage to remove it.
Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 6:41 am
National Guardsmen watch a business go up in flames in South Los Angeles on April 30, 1992. The riots erupted after a mostly white jury acquitted police officers accused in the beating of black motorist Rodney King.
Commentator John Ridley moved to Los Angeles 20 years ago, not long before the riots.
Look, I was always going to end up in Los Angeles. From the time I was a kid in Wisconsin, for me, L.A. was the city. It had sunshine, palm trees, a black mayor, even a police force whose legend was preached nightly on hit TV shows.