If LAPD oppression was both the cause and the target of that violence, why did the mobs assault the following civilians, among many others, in the first two hours of violence alone? There were the son of the Korean owner of Tom’s Liquor Store at Normandy and Florence, beaten by gangbangers while the store was being torched; the white driver of a gray Volvo, who was dragged from his car and kicked in the head by assailants yelling “It’s a black thing,” and who barely escaped in his car (minus his camera and briefcase, naturally); the white driver of a brown Jeep Wrangler who was hit by a rock thrown through the front windshield, then smashed in the face with a bottle when he got out of the jeep; a Latino driver who was pulled from his blue sedan and beaten; a Latino man, woman, and one-year-old child who were pelted with bottles; a 30-year-old woman who sustained numerous injuries to the head; a Guatemalan immigrant who was yanked from his truck, robbed, and bashed in the forehead with a car stereo while a rioter tried to saw off his ear; the driver of a white van who was beaten to the appreciative cheers of spectators, and to the taunt: “That’s how Rodney King felt, white boy”; and, of course, truck driver Reginald Denny, dragged from his big rig, stomped on, and beaten so ruthlessly with his truck’s fire extinguisher that his cranium was fractured in 91 places and his left eye dangled into his cheek cavity.
And if the LAPD was the cause of what Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez calls “those epic days,” why were two white males in Long Beach, California—far south of the LAPD’s jurisdiction—dragged from their motorcycle, beaten, robbed, and then, as they lay semi-conscious on the ground, shot multiple times—one fatally? Why was there rioting as far afield as Atlanta and Las Vegas? And what does the mindless property destruction, with its self-serving, maudlin justifications, have to do with the LAPD? “People can’t keep living like this. People are tired of this,” bathetically explained a looter carrying beer out of a South Central liquor store. Over 20,000 employees were put out of work because their places of employment had been burned to the ground or rendered uninhabitable; few if any were employed by the LAPD.
This fireball of racial hatred is being kept carefully offstage in the anniversary coverage, reduced to a few dry statistics: 54 dead, 2,328 hospitalizations, nearly $1 billion in property damage. Twenty years later, the media seems interested mainly in asking how Rodney King feels about things now and whether the LAPD has changed.
The press could use the 1992 riots as an occasion for self-examination. Instead, history is repeating itself. The build-up around the Trayvon Martin shooting seems almost designed to provoke riots should the case not come out the way the race agitators and the media think it should. As with the King beating, the press has doctored evidence and suppressed relevant context. It is once again promoting falsehoods—that the criminal justice system is racist and that blacks are under assault from racist whites. (To the contrary, young black males are under assault from other young blacks, who commit homicide at ten times the rate of young white and Hispanic males combined. White-on-black killings are negligible compared with black-on-white killings and are a minute fraction of the over 6,000 blacks mowed down every year by other blacks. Blacks kill whites and Hispanics at two-and-a-half times the rate at which whites and Hispanics kill blacks, though blacks are only one-sixth of the combined white and Hispanic population.)