I Remember the L.A. Riots

I wrote this almost ten years ago today, which felt like a lifetime ago. So many years before a pandemic, Safe and Stuck at Home, meeting the love of my life and finding my dream job. I wrote this almost ten years ago but these words still ring true to myself today as I watch rioting on t.v. in the midwest in one of the twin cities. Here I am safe in our hometown amongst the pines in southern California. I remember that fear I had as just a kid and my dad had to go to work in the middle of a riot. No child should watch their dad pack a gun just to drive himself to his workplace to defend himself. This is not Beihruit; This is the United States.

I didn’t understand at the time what a riot in an already financially devasted area could mean to a low-income community like this but I do now and I really grieve for these communities as the youths basically burn them to the ground. So many areas are already at such a disadvantage from COVID-19 and now this area has lost so many jobs with businesses like Target and other retail locations in this area vacant. Look at Ferguson Missouri. These retailers will not rebuild.

Some people are just not good at their jobs and do terrible heartless and inhuman things whether you are a cop or you work in retail but that is no reason to riot, cause violence or burn police cars or businesses to the ground. There are so many ways to peacefully protest. Do you think Rosa Parks would have been proud of this mayhem? Watching the causes unfolding on t.v. reminded me of this blog I wrote in 2012.

April 29th, 2012

    It has been twenty years since South Central Los Angles endured the L.A Riots.

I remember some of it. I was twelve, just a kid.  What I remember is terrifying to me to this day. It scares me because what I remember most is my Dad taking a gun to work with him.
On March 3 1991 Rodney King led the L.A.P.D on a high-speed pursuit after they witnessed him driving drunk at high speeds near the San Fernando Valley. After a high-speed pursuit that reached speeds between 90 and 117 miles an hour, the ex-con finally pulled over and resisted arrest. When confronted by police Rodney King began acting erratic, causing officers to believe he was on PCP, when later it would turn out to be a combination of Marijuana and alcohol. He then grabbed his buttocks and one officer believed he was reaching for a gun. Officer Melanie Singer then drew her gun, reholstering as she approached the subject, which is standard procedure so the suspect doesn’t get a hold of the gun as the officer approaches. As the other officers tried to approach and cuff him, Rodney King threw them off and that is when the infamous beating occurred.  I’ve seen the video many times as everyone who lives in California has. This video was taken by a bystander in the neighborhood. I see cops doing their job and having to subdue a known criminal who they believe is on a powerful drug and just led them on a dangerous high-speed pursuit. I have no sympathy for criminals. These cops were working in the most dangerous area of California trying to arrest a known felon who was on drugs. I can see both sides to the story.
In late April 1992, after the trials of the police officers involved were complete, South Central Los Angels was taken over by an angry mob that set over 3,600 fires and destroyed over one thousand buildings. Over two thousand people were injured over two days as the citizens of South Central  “defended” the rights of an alcoholic who would go on, years later to be arrested numerous times for alcohol-related charges.  The community of South Central was trying to prove that they had no rights when police officers were involved by doing the worst thing possible; revolting violently.
The Los Angeles Riots hit close to home in my family. My dad worked in Vernon California, a mile from South Central Los Angeles. The area that is South Central where the riots raged for two days is just over a mile from Vernon. You drive under the ten freeway, then under the 101 freeway, and suddenly the area becomes even worse then Vernon an area full of warehouses, homeless people, and shipping dispensaries. At the time my father commuted from our home in the San Bernardino Mountains 78 miles to his job as a truck driver departing near Boyle Heights. When I was in high school I would drive him down near the intersections of Soto and Bandini by the old Farmer John Factory to drop him off at his eighteen-wheeler so he could drive to Texas and then Florida for the week. Then he would let me drive his pick up truck during the week he was on the road.  My favorite part of driving my dad to work was when we would stop at Tommy’s Hamburgers, a Los Angeles favorite every time for a chili cheeseburger with hot peppers.
Hard to believe I was driving so close to where the riots had occurred and fifty-three people died over two days.
What I remember most about this time in California history was that my dad was driving to work every night with a loaded handgun in his car. Looking all this up on mapquest it’s almost unimaginable in my mind at least to have driven into that area in that period of time. This area of Los Angles is never considered nice at all. It’s not the picture-perfect palm tree and Rolls Royce bespeckled Beverly Hills that most people see on T.V.
I clearly remember my parents having a conversation about him bringing the gun to work. My dad is in the NRA and loves to go to the shooting range. He has a lot of guns and they were all under lock and key. My parents were responsible for three young children and a lot of guns. My dad started taking us shooting when we were just little kids. I remember driving in my Dad’s little Honda so surprised he had a loaded gun under his seat and realizing how significant this event I had watched on TV really was.
It is terrifying watching now the television coverage of Reginald Denny being pulled from his eighteen-wheeler by an angry mob and it makes me thankful every day that nothing ever happened to my father those days he was commuting to work.  This was a white truck driver who was just driving his eighteen-wheeler full of sand through the streets of South Central when an angry mob pulled him from the cab of his truck. He still has brain damage from a rock thrown at his face. This was all shown on live news that day on TV. What’s unbelievable is that a good Samaritan saw what was happening in his neighborhood on TV, rushed to the scene and drove Reginald Denny’s eighteen-wheeler and Mr. Denny to the nearest hospital. In the midst of the most horrible moments of humanity, there are a few good souls left.
It must have been terrifying, driving the streets of Los Angeles for those few days.
I was twelve when the riots occurred, and I can remember the news was always on the T.V. and hearing my parents talking about my dad bringing a gun to work in his Honda Civic, but I don’t recall a lot. I was probably more concerned with my My Little Ponies and reading Nancy Drew books.
Some people remember the day when Kennedy was shot. I can clearly remember when the Challenger blew up ( I was in school at the time, our classroom turned on the news) I can remember my family watching the OJ Simpson car chase, the white Bronco streaking down familiar L.A. freeways.  Just as clear in my head is the T.V. constantly tuned to the news showing fires and looting in the South Central area.
It is so crazy to think just ten years ago something as violent as the Los Angeles Riots happened here in Southern California in an area so close to where I have driven so frequently.

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