In 1991, Rodney King, an African American, was chased down for drunk driving by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department. King was beaten by the LAPD, struck more than 56 times and tasered more than once. The incident was videotaped by a bystander and broadcast repeatedly, locally and worldwide. Four of the officers were charged with excessive force and tried a year later in the white, conservative suburb of Simi Valley. When all were acquitted of all charges, the city exploded, but the LAPD was completely unprepared.
Exactly 20 years ago today, Los Angeles was in the second day of a riot that killed 53 people, wounded thousands and cost more than a billion dollars. It was a perfect storm of police abuse, racial hostility, economic decline and crime, including deadly traffic in crack cocaine. Today, crime's declined, people feel safer and race relations are much improved, but LA's troubles aren't over yet. What can the rest of the country learn from a city that's often called a preview of America's future?
For complete KCRW coverage of the 1992 riots, go to http://KCRW.com/LARiots.