LA Riots, 25 years later: Your voices

158396 full

We put out a call, both on-air and online, asking listeners who had witnessed the L.A. Riots to share their experiences. These are some of your responses.

Edward Contreras owned Master Blaster, a mobile electronics business that burned down during the rioting. His father owned a TV repair shop, next door.

"I lost my business, located on 69th and Broadway. I was shot in the process... The place burned down. I had to leave, go to the hospital. When I came back, everything was burned down to the ground. This was the most devastating part of my life."

Tanya L. was in junior high in 1992. She says people were shocked by the riots because they thought racism and police brutality were history.

"I think in the '90s people believed this was not happening anymore. Where now, social media has really been able to put a spotlight on a lot of things in dealing with police brutality and social injustices. Back in the '90s, we didn't have those forms of communication and so we weren't able to share that with each other. So I think a lot of people didn't understand what was going on in South Los Angeles."

Cynthia, who was in jail the night the riots broke out, called AirTalk to share her story.

"I was in jail, sorry to say, for prostitution. So I wasn't dressed properly. They put almost 100 girls out on the street that night because they were scared of rioting in the jail. And we had no money, nowhere to go, no way to get home. A lot of the people I was scared of, like the gang bangers and stuff, they broke into the businesses and stole clothes for us to keep us warm. It was really cold out that night. Funny enough, I worked for a tow truck company and they sent a tow truck to come get me."

Ivy Jennette McClelland, who now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico but grew up near Gage and Hoover and later in Inglewood, thinks not much has changed since 1992. 

"Nothing has changed since 1992 or even 1965. The anger is still there. In 1965 it was black versus white. In 1992, it was blacks versus Koreans or Latinos versus Korean. Now, it's black versus everybody. There are very few jobs, few educational opportunities, few places to shop unless you're Hispanic, Latino. A lot of blacks are feeling left out. The same anger that happened in 1992 and 1965, it's going to happen again. My aunt passed away last year. She lived at Gage and San Pedro for 57 years. She saw the area change. She would not move away... On my last visit, I've seen some whites move back into South LA. That may be another flash point, the gentrification that is happening even in Koreatown, it's happened. In Pico Union it's starting to happen. And in Baldwin Hills it's starting to happen. That's going to provoke a lot of anger. It's going to be a lot worse and I feel very sad for people who are there... I feel feel scared for the people that are still there. I fear for my family members. Hopefully, cooler heads prevail. But if you deny people the chance to participate in government and in full educational and economic opportunities, things will never change. History will keep repeating itself."

A man who didn't leave his name had this to say:

"Yeah, L.A. has changed a lot but it's still the same. And the inner city, no matter how they divide it up, no matter what race it is, has a whole lot of work to do... but it has changed. I mean you're not seeing the same amount of drive-by shootings but people are still senselessly killing. One of the reasons is probably a lot of them went to prison forever and never got out."

Karen McCue worked for Samy's camera, which was then located on La Brea Blvd. near Beverly Blvd. It was burned to the ground that during the L.A. Riots. She still works at Samy's.

"Samy's was probably the largest business that was burned to the ground. Over $10 million and not covered by insurance due to civil unrest. Luckily, we rebuilt or Samy has rebuilt his business and has thrived. But it would be nice to hear comments about it coming up into the La Brea and Beverly area. India's Oven, I believe was also burned to the ground."

A 79-year-old woman who didn't leave her name called to tell her story of being punched by a man riding a bus in Hollywood last week.

"I don't like the coverage. I think you make too much of it... and for people who are upset and angry and maybe they've been drinking... I know better than to ride a bus on the week of the of the riot. I won't be riding a public bus. I'll stay home. I don't like to be hit by people who are angry."

blog comments powered by Disqus