Authors: Ryan Gattis
DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF COLONEL ROBERT HOUSTON GATTIS SR.
. on April 29, 1992, a jury acquitted Los Angeles Police Department Officers Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind, as well as Sergeant Stacey Koon, of excessive force used to subdue civilian Rodney King. The jury failed to reach a verdict on the same charge against Officer Laurence Powell.
At roughly 5:00
., riots began. They lasted six days, finally ending on Monday, May 4, after 10,904 arrests had been made, over 2,383 people had been injured, 11,113 fires had burned, and more than one billion dollars' worth of property damage was sustained. In addition, 60 deaths were attributed to rioting, but this number fails to account for murder victims who died outside active rioting sites during those six days of curfews and little to no emergency assistance. As LAPD Chief Daryl Gates himself said on the first night, “There are going to be situations where people are going to be without assistance. That's just the facts of life. There are not enough of us to be everywhere.”
It is possible, and even likely, that a number of victims not designated as riot related were actually the targets of a sinister combination of opportunity and circumstance. As it happened, nearly 121 hours of lawlessness in a city of close to 3.6 million people contained within a county of 9.15 million was a long time for scores to be settled.
This is about some of them.
AN EVEN MORE INTERESTING QUESTION IS: WHY IS EVERYBODY WORRYING ABOUT ANOTHER RIOTâHAVEN'T THINGS IN WATTS IMPROVED ANY SINCE THE LAST ONE? A LOT OF WHITE FOLKS ARE WONDERING. UNHAPPILY, THE ANSWER IS NO. THE NEIGHBORHOOD MAY BE SEETHING WITH SOCIAL WORKERS, DATA COLLECTORS, VISTA VOLUNTEERS AND OTHER ASSORTED MEMBERS OF THE HUMANITARIAN ESTABLISHMENT, ALL OF WHOSE INTENTIONS ARE THE PUREST IN THE WORLD. BUT SOMEHOW NOTHING MUCH HAS CHANGED. THERE ARE STILL THE POOR, THE DEFEATED, THE CRIMINAL, THE DESPERATE, ALL HANGING IN THERE WITH WHAT MUST SEEM A TERRIBLE VITALITY.
NEW YORK TIMES
JUNE 12, 1966