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Sifting through the ashes: 20 years since the LA Riots

by AirTalk®

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A building is burning on a street near the intersection of Western Avenue on April 30, 1992, during the LA Riots. Gary Leonard/LAPL

The violence, despair and destruction that exploded in Los Angeles on April 29, 1992 left indelible memories on Angelenos and on Americans right across the country.

The city became unhinged after the jury acquittal of four LAPD officers criminally charged for the beating of black motorist, Rodney King. Tension spilled onto the streets. Fires burned from Long Beach to Pasadena. Looting was rampant. Gun violence spiked.

There are differing accounts of how many were killed over the course of those few days; as many as 63 Angelenos died in riot-related incidents according to new Los Angeles Times data. The worst trauma was race-related. Depending on whether you were black, white, Asian or Latino, the riots had different implications for you.


What did you experience of the turmoil that week, directly or indirectly? Did it have a lasting impact on your life? How do you interpret the events now? Where do you put the riots in the larger context of L.A., its history and its culture?


Leslie Berestein-Rojas, KPCC immigration reporter; writes the Multi-American blog on

Kathy Choi, Contributor to KPCC’s Public Insight Network; Choi was 13 years old at the time of the riots, but it had a profound influence on her; Choi is making a film about the L.A. riots.

Brian Bentley, Contributor to KPCC’s Public Insight Network; Bentley was an LAPD officer at the time of the riots

André Birotte Jr., US State Attorney for the Central Region of California, Department of Justice.; Birotte was a public defender in Los Angeles at the time of the riots; former Inspector General of the L.A.P.D.

Rhonda Mitchell, Contributor to KPCC’s Public Insight Network; Mitchell was a 911 dispatcher at the time of the riots

Olsen Ebright, NBC4 social media lead on the digital team. Ebright launched real time tweeting of the events last Friday. The goal is to portray the events as if there was Twitter at the time and to inform people of the time line and the scope of the events as they develop in real time.
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