thumbnail of MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour; L.A. Riot
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<v Narrator>These scenes of buildings engulfed in flames were reminiscent of the Watts riots <v Narrator>of 1965. <v Narrator>Hundreds of fires were reported. <v Narrator>Many were allowed to burn out of control because firefighters were spread too thin. <v Narrator>They were also afraid to go in without police protection. <v Narrator>Earlier in the day, at least four motorists were pulled from their cars and beaten. <v Narrator>Angry crowds gathered in some locations. <v Narrator>Despite the apocalyptic visions, most of the residential areas of South <v Narrator>Los Angeles, LA's predominantly black area, was peaceful. <v Narrator>[choir singing] Community members and leaders gathered at the First AME church. <v Narrator>Mayor Tom Bradley said he was outraged by the verdict in the King beating <v Narrator>case, but he also appealed for restraint. <v Tom Bradley>I was shocked. I was stunned. <v Tom Bradley>I was, I had my breath taken away by the verdict that was announced this afternoon.
<v Tom Bradley>We have come tonight to say we have <v Tom Bradley>had enough [applause]. <v Tom Bradley>We encourage you to express your outrage and your <v Tom Bradley>anger verbally. <v Tom Bradley>We don't intend that any of you should go out and burn down any buildings <v Tom Bradley>or break out any windows. <v Tom Bradley>Those words were not heeded by crowds who rampaged at the civic center. <v Protesters>No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! <v Narrator>Police appeared remarkably <v Narrator>restrained, dispersing people but making few arrests. <v Narrator>It appeared there was a conscious effort not to provoke any further violence. <v Narrator>This morning, fires still raged in the South Los Angeles area and residents <v Narrator>heard the grim statistics. <v Narrator>As of noon Los Angeles time, at least 13 dead, more than 200
<v Narrator>injured. One firefighter shot in the neck. <v Narrator>There was a much greater police presence on the streets today than there was yesterday. <v Narrator>Police escorted weary firefighters who were overwhelmed by the immensity <v Narrator>of their task. <v Narrator>This is smoldering and you're leaving the scene, right? <v Firefighter>Yeah, that's correct. <v Narrator>You wouldn't normally do that? <v Firefighter>No, on a normal day, we would never leave something like this. <v Firefighter>But since, you know, we have so much activity going on right now, what we want to do is <v Firefighter>just knock the fire down to protect the uh, buildings next to it, <v Firefighter>just to ensure that they don't start spreading. <v Narrator>And get on to the next one. <v Firefighter>Exactly. <v Narrator>In some areas, anarchy and lawlessness prevail. <v Narrator>We saw brazen looting with no police in sight. <v Narrator>They were deployed elsewhere. <v Narrator>There seemed to be little pattern to the violence, though it did appear that Asian-owned <v Narrator>businesses were special targets. <v Store owner>They, they shot all the windows and stuff and my mother, they were back there. <v Store owner>They could, they couldn't get out. <v Narrator>Are you afraid now? <v Store owner>Yeah, we're afraid they'll come back tonight. <v Narrator>Although
<v Narrator>those participating in violence were in the minority, anger among residents <v Narrator>was palpable. <v Narrator>What do you mean by this? And what do the people who are honking their horns mean? <v Narrator>What are you trying to say? <v Protester>We're trying to make noise, okay. <v Protester>Noise brought you here. Noise brings the media here. <v Protester>Noise brings attention here. Upon making the noise, we, hopefully we can get some <v Protester>response. <v Narrator>Is this an endorsement of the violence that we've seen? <v Protester 2>No it is not. <v Protester>You do not see no one advocating violence here. <v Protester 2>We need to make some type of change. We need to make a statement. <v Protester 2>We need to have a different police department. <v Resident>Uh, just to do all of this to innocent people. <v Resident>I mean, these people may be supporters of Rodney King as well as they are. <v Resident>They may not like what happened to Rodney King. <v Resident>And so when you're doing this, you are losing the support of the very thing that you <v Resident>need. <v Narrator>One official, state senator Diane Watson, toured the area. <v Narrator>She said the violence was caused by long-held grievances. <v Diane Watson>The rage, it's pent up rage over a decade of time.
<v Diane Watson>Uh, Reagan Bush are just as responsible for what's happening here as the people <v Diane Watson>who are lighting the fires. <v Diane Watson>The twelve jurors made a costly error, and this is a motion <v Diane Watson>that you can't keep under wraps. <v Diane Watson>These people here are serious about this. <v Diane Watson>They burned out the Korean businesses because they can't keep their businesses open. <v Diane Watson>And the business- <v Narrator>And it's not just Korean businesses, is it? <v Diane Watson>No. I said they burned out the Korean business right here. <v Narrator>Yeah. <v Diane Watson>They burned out black businesses here. <v Diane Watson>They're burning and they're looting because this is one way to vent their frustration. <v Diane Watson>What we have to do is come up with a plan to bring economic viability <v Diane Watson>back to our community. <v Narrator>Bus service was curtailed in the riot area, sales of ammunition and guns <v Narrator>were forbidden, nor could gasoline be sold in containers. <v Narrator>Public schools were shut down in South Los Angeles, so many youth spent <v Narrator>their time wandering the streets. <v Narrator>Among them, 13 year old Clifford Christmas. <v Clifford Christmas>I don't think the Rodney King trial was right.
<v Clifford Christmas>I think they should've proven them cops guilty. <v Clifford Christmas>But then again, the black people shouldn't go terrorizing everybody like they did. <v Clifford Christmas>I don't think that's right either. <v Narrator>What are you doing today? <v Clifford Christmas>Just going around, watching everybody, watching all the stupid fools, burning <v Clifford Christmas>up everything, looking at all that stuff. <v Narrator>Are you frightened? <v Clifford Christmas>Yeah, in a way. <v Narrator>Why? What do you think's going to happen? <v Clifford Christmas>Man, they're probably gonna burn up over my house, or something go, something gonna catch <v Clifford Christmas>on to my house or where my mother lives or by her job or somebody in my family might get <v Clifford Christmas>hurt or something. <v Narrator>Are there people trying to stop this stuff from going on? <v Clifford Christmas>Well not so far that I know of, there's not nobody trying to do nothing but the police, <v Clifford Christmas>and the police are so scared to come they ain't doing nothing about it they self. <v Narrator>Tonight, a dusk to dawn curfew was to take effect <v Narrator>and the National Guard was expected to be out helping police patrol the streets.
<v Narrator>Late yesterday afternoon, the situation was chaotic. <v Narrator>Looting was widespread. At one location, looters leaving an appliance store <v Narrator>created a traffic jam as they escaped, clutching their merchandise. <v Narrator>It wasn't until yesterday afternoon that police began to restore a semblance <v Narrator>of order by making mass arrests of looters. <v Narrator>About the same time, 2,000 National Guard troops arrived in Los <v Narrator>Angeles to assist law enforcement officials. <v Narrator>At dusk, a curfew took effect in Los Angeles and adjoining cities. <v Narrator>As a result, parts of L.A. <v Narrator>were deserted. Hundreds of fires still raged. <v Narrator>Not as many as the night before, but there was one big difference: <v Narrator>vandalism had spread beyond the confines of South Los Angeles, <v Narrator>the predominantly black community where disturbances started. <v Narrator>We saw looting close to Hollywood to the north. <v Narrator>Fires along Hollywood Boulevard, a world-renowned tourist landmark,
<v Narrator>might give non-Angelinos some appreciation for the scope of the lawlessness. <v Narrator>Even while scattered fires burned, for the most part last night, the <v Narrator>police seemed to own the streets. <v Narrator>The National Guard stood by at selected locations. <v Narrator>At a midnight press conference, officials, including California Governor Pete Wilson, <v Narrator>said the curfew seemed to be effective. <v Pete Wilson>The mayor has imposed a curfew. I am convinced that the curfew is working, that it <v Pete Wilson>will work over a long weekend, provided we have an adequate show <v Pete Wilson>of force, the kind of presence that is necessary to allow <v Pete Wilson>law enforcement to make the arrests necessary. <v Narrator>Officials who had already authorized deployment of 4,000 National Guard troops <v Narrator>announced they were requesting 2,000 more. <v Pete Wilson>Once the officers of the sheriff and the chief have secured <v Pete Wilson>a building that has been looted, we are going to provide the troops from
<v Pete Wilson>the guard who can stay on station at a particular site to <v Pete Wilson>assure that the looters do not return. <v Pete Wilson>That frees the officers, makes them mobile to go out and make arrests both on <v Pete Wilson>the streets and to actually arrest the people who have been involved in looting. <v Narrator>By daybreak when the curfew ended, people who returned to their businesses <v Narrator>in many cases discovered that the curfew had not worked for them. <v Narrator>While firefighters continued their efforts, residents <v Narrator>of Los Angeles had to cope with numerous power outages, closed banks, <v Narrator>post offices, schools and other businesses. <v Narrator>There are few people in Los Angeles whose lives have not been disrupted in some <v Narrator>way. <v Narrator>L.A. is known for its racial and ethnic diversity, and it is important <v Narrator>to note that members of all races were both victims and perpetrators of <v Narrator>violence. Along Western Avenue, Asian shopkeepers cleaned <v Narrator>up what remained of their looted stores.
<v Narrator>Do you think that you were targeted because you were Asian? <v Narrator>There was a lot of feeling about that. <v Shopkeeper>I don't know because in- on the whole street here, I saw it does matter, you know <v Shopkeeper>what race they are. Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean or whatever, it <v Shopkeeper>still happened. Even, you know, American. <v Shopkeeper>I saw American, so, you know, get ?inaudible? <v Narrator>Further down Western Avenue, lines for gasoline started to form, <v Narrator>a first indication of inevitable shortages being faced in some devastated <v Narrator>communities. At a Viva supermarket, neighbors volunteered <v Narrator>to clean up. Among them, local resident Kenny Long. <v Narrator>Long teaches at a public high school. <v Narrator>What's gonna happen when people get hungry and need to go to a market to eat? <v Kenny Long>I think that's when they're gonna really come to their senses. <v Kenny Long>Um, they're not going to be able to get any food. You know it's, I mean, I don't think <v Kenny Long>that the community is, if, if we don't establish a hold on this place so it doesn't go <v Kenny Long>down, they're not gonna rebuild in these communities any time soon.
<v Kenny Long>I've been watching for the last 20 years, and just, this place over here was just rebuilt <v Kenny Long>after all, the last situation. And - <v Narrator>The last situation being sic- 1965? <v Kenny Long>Yes. <v Narrator>Watts riots. <v Kenny Long>Yeah, exactly. <v Narrator>So it took a while to get this reestablished. <v Kenny Long>I'd say at least two decades. <v Narrator>And now you're worried it's going to take, what, as much time as that to get <v Narrator>reestablished again? <v Kenny Long>Exactly, but it, you know, it's, now it becomes a community concern and we have to <v Kenny Long>protect what we know is ours. <v Kenny Long>Those who still have some good sense need to come out and try to talk some sense into <v Kenny Long>those who have not, who are not thinking at this time. <v Narrator>The dawn to dusk curfew will remain in effect indefinitely, according to Mayor Tom <v Narrator>Bradley. President Bush has authorized the dispatch of 4,000 <v Narrator>federal troops to Los Angeles, along with an additional 1,000 U.S. <v Narrator>agents. But even with a beefed-up police presence and calls for <v Narrator>peace, many residents are looking out for themselves. <v Narrator>Hundreds of stores have been closed, so some people are hoarding food,
<v Narrator>not knowing where or if it will be readily available in their neighborhoods. <v Narrator>As the sun rose Saturday, it was clear that the arrival of federal troops had made <v Narrator>a difference. The number of overnight incidents dropped dramatically from the first <v Narrator>two nights. But there was also the irony that many of the buildings guarded <v Narrator>by soldiers had already been vandalized. <v Narrator>When the overnight curfew had passed and citizens were free to come and go, <v Narrator>hundreds of volunteers from all over Los Angeles descended on the devastated businesses <v Narrator>and streets of the south-central neighborhoods. <v Narrator>Just as law enforcement had made their show of force, so did these people.
<v Narrator>Armed with tools to begin the cleanup, brooms, rakes, shovels, and <v Narrator>plastic bags, they were determined to make their own contributions by <v Narrator>beginning a healing process. <v Narrator>In other neighborhoods, many citizens tried to restore normalcy to their lives <v Narrator>by going to a reopened supermarket, or by having their hair cut, <v Narrator>all the trappings of a typical Saturday. <v Narrator>But only a block away, the residents of this scorched apartment building were <v Narrator>filled with rage, trying to cope with the loss of something so basic as the roof <v Narrator>over their heads. <v Building owner>I got to pay the bills here. I got to pay the mortgage. <v Building owner>I got to pay the insurance. I got to pay the electric. <v Resident>I know -. <v Building owner>I can't pay it if we don't collect the rent. <v Resident>But who's going to pay my my furniture my everything because everything is ?ruined?. <v Narrator>The owner of the building had come to listen, to talk about relocation arrangements. <v Narrator>Tenants in this building felt their landlord should help with moving costs. <v Narrator>Yvonne Davis was one of the burned-out renters.
<v Yvonne Davis>Wednesday night, I went to bed. I had a home. <v Yvonne Davis>Thursday morning I woke up, got my kids dressed. <v Yvonne Davis>I don't have a home and this is what's left. <v Yvonne Davis>Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. <v Yvonne Davis>This is it. Nothing livable, nothing to repair, okay, <v Yvonne Davis>and this man wants us to move into a building like this and continue to pay. <v Yvonne Davis>I mean, this is a death trap. <v Yvonne Davis>This is a hazardous zone. I mean, if the walls could talk, they would tell you there was <v Yvonne Davis>a family here. <v Narrator>Davis had no choice but to take her three children and move in with friends. <v Red Cross Worker>We have shelter, food, and family services will be out either today or tomorrow. <v Narrator>The Red Cross opened a nearby shelter providing the tenants with bed and board. <v Narrator>But Suzie Cooper was afraid vandals might invade her apartment if she left it. <v Suzie Cooper>Me taking five children to a shelter, leaving what little I have left <v Suzie Cooper>for the vandals to come and take tonight. <v Suzie Cooper>This is all I own. <v Narrator>In the aftermath of the riots, routine activities became arduous chores.
<v Narrator>People lined up at post offices to receive welfare and Social Security checks <v Narrator>that were normally delivered to their mailboxes. <v Narrator>The National Guard protected government buildings and businesses. <v Narrator>Police agencies provided escorts to emergency vehicles and watched <v Narrator>out as crews from utility companies work to restore services. <v Narrator>Many neighborhoods had gone without electricity for days. <v Narrator>But the day belonged to volunteers. <v Narrator>Civilians directed traffic at dangerous and congested intersections <v Narrator>such as Manchester and Vermont, where a power failure had knocked out traffic <v Narrator>lights. Other volunteers brought food and beverages to those <v Narrator>maintaining order. <v Narrator>All over the city, people began the day as strangers and ended up as friends. <v Narrator>People such as this group, including Pamela Harris, a civilian dispatcher <v Narrator>at the Santa Monica Police Department. <v Pamela Harris>We've basically been added since about maybe 8, 8 this morning.
<v Bystander>Yeah. <v Narrator>Why are you doing this? <v Pamela Harris>Because I care. <v Narrator>For Pamela Harris and thousands of other Angelinos, Sunday morning <v Narrator>brought time for reflection and pause [choir singing]. <v Narrator>Churches played the role they so often have in the black community as centers <v Narrator>for community organization as well as sanctuaries for the spirit. <v Pastor Recia Johnson>If we can contact God through <v Pastor Recia Johnson>the medium of prayer, if God <v Pastor Recia Johnson>responds to our requests, it stands <v Pastor Recia Johnson>to reason there is more power in the Church House <v Pastor Recia Johnson>than there is in the White House. <v Narrator>Pastor Recia Johnson at the Bethany Baptist Church in West Los Angeles, urged his <v Narrator>congregation to find solace through prayer. <v Narrator>As he spoke, soldiers of the National Guard stood watch across the street.
<v Narrator>Nearby, burned-out buildings bore the scars of rioting. <v Narrator>Inside the church, Johnson told congregants to consider themselves blessed <v Narrator>that they had come through days of violence relatively unscathed. <v Narrator>But he said much work remained. <v Pastor Recia Johnson>Can Los Angeles be healed? [congregation affirms] Can south Los Angeles be healed? <v Pastor Recia Johnson>[congregation affirms] Can west Los Angeles be healed? [congregation affirms] Does Beverly Hills need any healing? [mixed reaction] Can it be healed? [congregation affirms] Can <v Pastor Recia Johnson>?inaudible? be healed? [congregation affirms] Can America be healed? [congregation affirms] Can our community be healed? [congregation affirms] Yes, yes, yes. <v Narrator>Few members of this church had been left untouched by the chaos in Los Angeles. <v Church member 1>I wasn't able to go to work and my clothes were burned in the cleaners, <v Church member 1>and by me not going to work, that was the main thing that really made it bad 'cause I <v Church member 1>just got a new job. <v Narrator>And you sir? <v Church member 2>Uh, just the stores you can go to stores, or the people who go for welfare, they couldn't <v Church member 2>cash their checks. They went to the post office to get the checks and they still couldn't
<v Church member 2>cash them it was nowhere to cash them, so, there's been a lot of problems that way. <v Narrator>You personally? <v Church member 2>Uh, for me, personally, uh trying to find gas to go to work. <v Narrator>Sunday afternoon, the Bethel AME church became a food distribution <v Narrator>center. <v Narrator>The effort had been publicized, so residents from all over the Los Angeles area <v Narrator>came to donate goods. <v Pastor Edgar Boyd>Uh we're doing a- a major effort at this point in time, trying to do an immediate <v Pastor Edgar Boyd>response for the food ?inaudible? and we're doing immediate response - <v Narrator>Pastor Edgar Boyd said the need was enormous. <v Pastor Edgar Boyd>Uh, and people are very satisfied with anything that resembles food because many of them <v Pastor Edgar Boyd>cannot get the, um, the supermarkets. <v Pastor Edgar Boyd>All the supermarkets in that area have either been burned, uh, looted, and are just out of business for the moment. <v Narrator>Volunteers kept busy handing out food to anyone who requested it, <v Narrator>no questions asked. Many walked for blocks to get here. <v Paul Pursley>Why don't we start off with these folks - <v Paul Pursley>Okay we ready? <v Narrator>Church member Paul Pursley rounded up a group of students from UCLA
<v Narrator>to help deliver boxes of food to people who could not come to the church. <v Narrator>Pursley makes his living delivering paper goods to commercial customers all over <v Narrator>Southern California. Yesterday, he drove his car, providing desperately <v Narrator>needed food goods to grateful residents of South Central Los Angeles. <v Resident>Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you, God bless you. <v Resident>Take care. <v Volunteer>Take care. <v Narrator>Jack Jones seemed frustrated by the shortages he was now facing. <v Jack Jones>Man, we ain't got nothing. We ain't got no bread, there's stores around here, no nothing. <v Jack Jones>We ain't got -- they tore up everything. <v Jack Jones>It's like we gotta go way out somewhere. And some people like don't have transportation <v Jack Jones>or nothing, it's like you gotta survive with what you got til later. <v Narrator>Yeah. You got, you don't have enough gas in the car? <v Jack Jones>Oh, man. Don't even talk about gas. You can't even find a gas station. <v Jack Jones>It's like you've got to walk. And I'm glad they've finally got the buses running. <v Narrator>Another recipient was 57-year-old Arlene Timmons. <v Narrator>Timmons has no car and her arthritis keeps her from walking more than a few blocks.
<v Narrator>She relied on the corner grocery store for her food, but that's no longer an option. <v Narrator>Before those disturbances- <v Arlene Timmons>I walked down on the corner down there and got my food. <v Narrator>And what happened to the store? <v Arlene Timmons>It burnt up. <v Arlene Timmons>And they were really si - it were really, you know, see people down there with tears <v Arlene Timmons>in they eyes, I mean they were just something to see. <v Arlene Timmons>I've never seen nothing like that before. <v Narrator>It turns out that the storm Ms. <v Narrator>Timmons shop ?got? Was in a row of businesses that were looted, then torched by rioters. <v Narrator>Among them, a beauty shop owned by the Martinez family. <v Narrator>They not only lost their store, they lost their home. <v Narrator>Oh you lived up there too? <v Martinez family member>We used to live up there and we used to have a basement down here. <v Narrator>Where are you going to live now? <v Martinez family member>Uh, we are with uh some of our family in East L.A. right now. <v Narrator>We're gon -- you're going to have you have to move to East L.A. now. <v Martinez family member>Yeah. As you can see, we lost everything. <v Narrator>As dusk approached yesterday, authorities hoped this would be the last day
<v Narrator>the curfew would be necessary. <v Narrator>Residents were also anticipating the restored freedom to travel at night <v Narrator>would be another sign the crisis had passed. <v Narrator>Today, parts of Los Angeles still looked like an occupied war zone. <v Narrator>Government agencies were gearing up to repair the devastation and businesses <v Narrator>were getting down to the nuts and bolts of restoration. <v Narrator>Residents are now taking the time to reflect on what went wrong. <v Narrator>Schools resumed today and at Hollywood High School, teacher Kenny Long tried <v Narrator>to help his students understand the turbulent events of the past week. <v Kenny Long>Can some of you just call off some words? I want just single words. <v Student 1>Racism. <v Kenny Long>Racism. <v Student 1>Tolerance. <v Student 2> Poverty. <v Kenny Long>Poverty. <v Kenny Long>Okay, something else. <v Student 3>Advantage. <v Kenny Long>I can't hear you.
<v Student 3>Advantage. <v Kenny Long>Advantage? You mean taking advantage of a situation? <v Student 3>Mhm, yeah. <v Kenny Long>Okay. <v Student 4>Violence. <v Kenny Long>What else? <v Student 4>Violenc. <v Kenny Long>Violence. <v Student 5>Ignorance. <v Kenny Long>I heard a wonderful word I want to put up here. <v Kenny Long>I'd like to make that capital letters. <v Kenny Long>And we're going to deal with this word a lot. <v Kenny Long>Ignorance. What else? <v Narrator>Officials are promising to throw the book at those arrested for looting. <v Narrator>This morning, a congested court system made preparations to arraign the thousands <v Narrator>booked on riot-related charges. <v Narrator>The curfew has been lifted tonight throughout most of the Los Angeles area, but <v Narrator>authorities warn that should disturbances re-occur, the curfew will go back <v Narrator>into effect.
<v Teacher>Was anyone surprised by the reaction? <v Students>I was. <v Teacher>Yeah. What did you see? <v Student>There was this, uh, black man um in his car, a black male. <v Student>And uh, and he, and he uh got out of his car and uh there was this <v Student>uh this caucasian male driving by and he reached in, picked up his <v Student>gun and uh and shot him three times and uh <v Student>twice in the head. <v Teacher>He killed him? <v Student>Killed him. And and the, and the car kept on going and um and- <v Teacher>And where were when this was happening? <v Student>Oh um, I was right over there by it. <v Teacher>Were you afraid? <v Student>Uh, yes sir. I was afraid when I heard the first gunshot, um I was real surprised, and it <v Student>ki- and it kind of uh and and and and I <v Student>kind of and I kind of jumped and then I turned around and <v Student>I, and I saw. <v Teacher>Does anyone understand the reaction? <v Teacher>Can anyone explain the rage, the fury, why
<v Teacher>that exists, someone who hasn't spoken, yeah? <v Student 2>Well, I think at first it was- it was like anger. <v Student 2>But then afterwards, it started going off all day and everything. <v Student 2>They were just doing it to be doing it. <v Student 2>They just started doing it because it was free. <v Student 2>So then after after the day went by the anger <v Student 2>like settled and then people just started doing it to be doing it because it was- it was <v Student 2>there. <v Teacher>Do you know people who are involved in this? <v Student 2>Yep. <v Teacher>And have you talked to them? <v Student 2>Yep <v Teacher>And what do they say? <v Student 2>They said I did it to be doing it. They said I- that they were smiling about it and <v Student 2>everything. <v Teacher>And who are they? Who- who are these people that yo- I don't need their names. <v Teacher>But are they gang bangers, uh who? <v Student 2>Nah they some decent people. <v Teacher>What do you mean decent people? <v Student 2>You know they- they regular students, they don't go here though. <v Teacher>Yeah. <v Student 2>They- they go to stu- they go to schools out in the valley and stuff. <v Student 2>And they- they go to church and everything just like the next person. <v Student 2>But I guess that since they saw a opportunity they took it. <v Student 3>My friend was telling me the reason she said the reason that she went to the stores and
<v Student 3>started um looting and stuff is because they were burnin' down stuff in our community and <v Student 3>we didn't have- we don't have nowhere to shop or nothing. <v Student 3>And they need diapers and milk and stuff, and her mother has a car but she has to work, <v Student 3>so how else would her brother, sister get milk and diapers and everything? <v Student 3>So she was feeling like what everybody else is doing, I have to get something for my, you <v Student 3>know, my little brother and sister to survive. <v Teacher>So you're saying that your friend went in to loot a store- <v Student 3>Because- <v Teacher>-because she was afraid that she wouldn't be able to get that stuff anywhere else? <v Student 3>Exactly. Mhm. <v Student 4>I don't even think it was nothing for Rodney King. <v Student 4>It probably- a little piece of it started. But, you know, cause my friends and all that <v Student 4>were trying to say let's go do that stuff. <v Teacher>Your friends wanted to do it, and- and you said, no? <v Student 4>Basically, my mom wouldn't let me go, but, you know. <v Teacher>And if your mom had let you go, would you of? <v Student 4>I admit, I woulda. <v Teacher>You didn't go out there because your mom said no, but you would have anyway. <v Student 4>Yes. <v Teacher>Why? Why would you have gone into someone else's store and stolen stuff? <v Student 4>Cause this is- this is what I'm saying. If it's going to burn down on it, all that good <v Student 4>stuff is in it, it would be better off in somebody house [students laughing].
<v Student 4>No, no, I'm serious. <v Student 4>That, that is it. I know, you don't let that stuff go to wa- <v Student 4>here is 100, 300 dollar items in this and it's about to get burnt to <v Student 4>the ground. <v Teacher>What kind of weapons did you see on the streets? <v Student 5>Really you didn't have to see. You could just hear em. <v Teacher>Yeah. <v Student 5>You could hear like a certain pop, then you hear a pop, pop, then you hear like a whole <v Student 5>bunch of pops put together. <v Teacher>And what were they? <v Student 5>Uh shotguns. They- some of em have firecrackers, like <v Student 5>M-80s. <v Teacher>M-80s, Uzis, what else? <v Student 5>Um a 9, 38s, just everything. <v Teacher>9s, 38s. And do you know the difference in the sounds that each of these guns make? <v Student 5>If I listen to em I can. <v Teacher>How do you know the difference? <v Student 5>Like um when you get a shotgun, it's more like just one thing, and then when you <v Student 5>hear a Uzi it's ?sort? of a rapid. Um, mu- it's like a rapid <v Student 5>sound. <v Teacher>Right, and the 38? <v Student 5>But it's uncontro- it sounds uncontrollable. <v Teacher>And what does a 38 sound like? <v Student 5>It's like a crackle though. It's like when you go boom krr, you know, it's like cracklin'
<v Student 5>sound ?when you hear it?. <v Teacher>Yeah. Do you realize how shocked many people around this country will be to know that <v Teacher>you can tell me the difference between the sounds that these weapons make? <v Student 5>Why would they be shocked? <v Teacher>Why would they be shocked? <v Student 5>Yeah, why would they be shocked? <v Teacher>Because not every young person, unless they're in a <v Teacher>hunting club or a shooting range- <v Student 5>[students laugh] I'm in a danger zone ?inaudible? danger zone. <v Teacher>You're in a danger ?inaudible? can describe the way a weapon sounds. <v Teacher>What do you think about what the sociologists have to say about <v Teacher>uh oppot- lack of opportunities. Uh i- it- did that lead to the- <v Teacher>to the rage, to- to the anger? <v Teacher>Does that have anything to do with it? Yeah. <v Student 2>Well, I think that the s- the sociologists, whatever you said, I don't think they know <v Student 2>what they're talking about because they don't live here. <v Student 6>It's about respect. If police mans wanted the black people to respect them, then they had <v Student 6>no business disrespecting that man, beating him. <v Student 6>Nobody had no right to put their hands on him. <v Student 6>And if they want it and how can you lead somebody u- how can you solve a
<v Student 6>problem when you haven't been part of it to know what's wrong? <v Teacher>Is that what it's all about? Respect. You were telling me about what happens when you- <v Teacher>in- in some stores. Tell me that. <v Student 6>Um certain st- oh, um when they follow you down the aisles. <v Student 6>I mean, I'm not saying I'm not gonna make a generaliz- generalization and say all <v Student 6>Korean Americans do that. <v Student 6>But I have been in a store before where I have been followed <v Student 6>up and down the aisles. And yo- haven't you ever been in a store where you pick something <v Student 6>up and to analyze it? You don't- you don't- you not- you're not gonna necessarily buy <v Student 6>it, but you just want to see if it's something you may want to come back to get. <v Student 6>And then, you know, the Korean was like, oh, that's this night, this price, 5.99 <v Student 6>or whatever and stuff like that, and they come up to you and then, are you gonna buy it <v Student 6>or not? And then you know, it's not, I don't need that, I need respect when I come in <v Student 6>your store. You should respect me, cause if you want my business, then you <v Student 6>respect me enough to leave me alone. <v Student 6>I mean. <v Teacher>Was that- was that a big part of this? The Korean merchants?
<v Class>[affirms] <v Student 7>Little Chinese people might be following you down the aisle because they want you to buy <v Student 7>something. They feel like they had a good selling day or whatever, and you know, I guess <v Student 7>probably their culture and other people just don't understand that. <v Teacher>Yeah. What's gonna happen when the National Guard leave? <v Student 6>[many responses] but <v Student 6>they don't realize the people who are- who are <v Student 6>this frustrated aren't after the National Guard, they want the police. <v Student 8>Yeah they want the LAPD. <v Teacher>Tha- that's the police issue. What about the other stuff? <v Teacher>Bringing jobs into this community, providing hope, is that gonna happen? <v Student 5>There was already 9 to 5 jobs when they started. <v Teacher>They were what? <v Student 5>They already had lousy jobs when they started. It's just going to be rebuilding. <v Student 5>It's gonna be more lousy jobs, 9-5. <v Student 9>Less pay. <v Teacher>There doesn't seem to be much hope in this classroom, does there? <v Student 10>It's reality- I mean, why you- we have so much hope. <v Student 10>For all of this time we thought all of this prejudice- prejudiceness and stuff was gonna <v Student 10>change. But this trial, it just shows that nothing has changed. <v Student 10>We free and everything, but nothing has changed. <v Student 10>You know, as long as you- a black person stay in they place then, hey, that's it.
<v Student 10>But if you um overstep your bounds and stuff, what they are saying is, hey, you know with <v Student 10>Rodney King, what happened with Rodney King, I guess they thinkin he overstepped his <v Student 10>bounds so he got beat. You know, a black person- it just never change. <v Student 10>You know? <v Resident>We get to see the president of the United States here in our community, where we live, <v Resident>where we work and where we play. <v Narrator>The people who saw President Bush this morning at a burned out shopping center included <v Narrator>the excited and the surprised. <v Narrator>Bush has visited the city 9 times as president, but the White House could find <v Narrator>no record of his ever coming to South Central Los Angeles. <v Resident>It's sad to say that he came after the community has been destroyed. <v Resident>But I am- I was very well impressed with him coming out. <v Narrator>The area was cordoned off under particularly tight security and access <v Narrator>to the president was severely restricted. <v Resident>He was particular. Nobody gonna bother him.
<v Resident>Why can't we talk to him and ask questions like everybody else do? <v Narrator>While President Bush paid a visit to South L.A., we took a tour of our own. <v Juanita Tate>You see these buildings all along here. These used to be viable businesses at one time. <v Juanita Tate>Now they're all closed up because the dollars have dried up in the community. <v Narrator>Our guide was community activist Juanita Tate, executive director of Concerned <v Narrator>Citizens of South Central Los Angeles, an economic development organization. <v Narrator>If President Bush were on this tour instead of me, what would you tell him <v Narrator>about this? <v Juanita Tate>I would tell President Bush that he needs to get the right dollars in this community, so <v Juanita Tate>the people that want to do business in this community, that want to produce businesses <v Juanita Tate>in this community, to be profitable, not only for the community, but <v Juanita Tate>for the residents that live here, he needs to get his small business administration <v Juanita Tate>out here to find out how we can make this a viable community. <v Narrator>Tate has learned to use the system to help make her community more viable. <v Narrator>She's been able to package financing to build low income housing, but she feels
<v Narrator>these projects are a drop in the bucket. <v Narrator>The economic problems of South Central Los Angeles are longstanding. <v Narrator>They worsened after the 1965 Watts riots, as many businesses <v Narrator>started to abandon the area. <v Narrator>Now, according to Tate, unemployment among black men has reached 40 percent. <v Juanita Tate>As disinvestment in the community. <v Juanita Tate>Look at these boarded up buildings. There is no reason for these buildings to be boarded <v Juanita Tate>up, when they're viable, when there's no place for people to shop, you <v Juanita Tate>have to go three to five miles to a grocery store. <v Juanita Tate>Why shouldn't we have viable places in this community <v Juanita Tate>that people can buy things and do things? <v Juanita Tate>But it takes some money to make that happen. <v Narrator>And money also left the community, according to Tate, when many bank branches <v Narrator>pulled out. Further down Central Avenue, a former bank building is now <v Narrator>a market. <v Juanita Tate>This is- this is- this was Bank of America.
<v Juanita Tate>This is the last bank that left the south central, southeast end of this community uh <v Juanita Tate>and- and- <v Narrator>When? <v Juanita Tate>Three years ago. We don't have a bank from where you stand- <v Narrator>Yeah. <v Juanita Tate>-within a five mile radius. What we were- we were not able to save the bank from closing. <v Narrator>Bank of America says they closed branch offices because the local economy deteriorated. <v Narrator>Tate says the banks were in part responsible for the deterioration and that not <v Narrator>only did they close their doors, they turned their backs on small community businesses. <v Juanita Tate>What we need is for SBA to come down here... <v Narrator>She took us to one such enterprise, the 27th Street Bakery, at 27th <v Narrator>Street and Central. <v Narrator>Gregory Span's family owned business bakes and distributes sweet potato <v Narrator>pies all over the Los Angeles area. <v Narrator>The company takes in about $30000 a month selling goods baked in 40 <v Narrator>year old ovens. Spann needed capital to meet an increasing demand.
<v Gregory Span>About five years ago in 87, I experienced a tremendous <v Gregory Span>growth in my business to the capacity with existing <v Gregory Span>equipment that I have now and working 18 hours with 2 shifts with 15 employees, <v Gregory Span>I wouldn't- I wasn't meeting the demand for my particular product. <v Gregory Span>So in 1987, I went out into the market <v Gregory Span>area to try to obtain loans. <v Narrator>Span says he was turned down by the government and by banks because of insufficient <v Narrator>cash flow. Tate faults the institutions for insensitivity to the <v Narrator>firm's potential. <v Narrator>So you've been denied by the banks. You've been denied by federal agencies. <v Narrator>You've been turned down by the city agencies, and you have a business that you- <v Juanita Tate>?inaudible? look at the people putting pies in the car. I mean, it's not like that people don't <v Juanita Tate>buy these pies. They're in 7-11 stores, they're in all of the- all of the <v Juanita Tate>stores. And we have to say f- we have to keep Gregory out there until
<v Juanita Tate>everyone realizes that they will be shamed into giving him that money. <v Donald Mulane>In fairness, uh we're in the business to make loans. <v Narrator>Donald Mulane is executive vise president at Bank of America, one of the institutions <v Narrator>that turned down Span's loan applications. <v Donald Mulane>That's how we make money is that we make loans. <v Donald Mulane>We didn't build this bank to be the size that it is on turning down loans. <v Donald Mulane>We made loans. <v Donald Mulane>This- this is the same institution that started Walt Disney Corporation in his garage <v Donald Mulane>with a 100 dollar loan. This is the same corporation that started Mattel toy with a 100 <v Donald Mulane>dollar loan, okay. So it's not an organization that doesn't take chances. <v Narrator>Juanita Tate would like to see more chances taken in South Central Los Angeles. <v Narrator>She says the abandonment of the area by banks has spurred a growth in check <v Narrator>cashing businesses. They provide no loans and charge high interest <v Narrator>on what they do offer. <v Juanita Tate>See what happens with these banks leave our community, only thing we have left is check <v Juanita Tate>cashing places. Check cashing places charges up to 26% to cash checks.
<v Narrator>Many check cashing places were targeted by arsonists last week <v Narrator>and because so many Korean-owned grocery stores were also burned down, <v Narrator>business at Tommy Peters convenience store tripled after the riots. <v Narrator>Peters would like a new refrigerator to keep pace with expanding business. <v Narrator>He was hopeful when he got a call from City Hall. <v Narrator>What did they say? <v Tommy Peters>Oh they go on, ask me uh had I been burned out and I told him no. <v Tommy Peters>And uh he asked me if I knew any- anybody that had been burned out, they were helping <v Tommy Peters>people that were burnt out. <v Narrator>So you couldn't get a loan? <v Tommy Peters>It looks that way. <v Narrator>Because you weren't burned out? <v Tommy Peters>Yeah. <v Narrator>We put Tommy Peters' dilemma to Oscar Wright, western <v Narrator>regional director of the US Small Business Administration, the SBA. <v Tommy Peters>He needs money. He needs a loan to expand so he can help the neighborhood. <v Tommy Peters>Isn't that typical? Some say it is a much more a longstanding problem. <v Oscar Wright>What is typical of miscommunication. You see you just gave me an example of someone who
<v Oscar Wright>could possibly be eligible for a loan because of economic injury. <v Oscar Wright>I can't make that determination here as we speak. <v Oscar Wright>But I would suggest that that individual call the local disaster areas uh center <v Oscar Wright>to sit down to see whether he qualifies for an ed- economic injury loan, which was not <v Oscar Wright>directly fire damaged. <v Narrator>According to Wright, the SBA is stepping up efforts to support minority-owned <v Narrator>enterprises, not just those affected by the L.A. <v Narrator>disturbances. In the meantime, the SBA is planning on spending as much <v Narrator>as $300 million to assist victims of the riots. <v Narrator>Wright says checks may be issued within the month. <v Narrator>Bank of America also will have a loan program to help businesses get back on <v Narrator>their feet. <v Narrator>Are you worried that these aid packages that are being put together <v Narrator>will only deal- wil- will only be a Band-Aid, will only deal superficially-. <v Juanita Tate>They're not even gonna be a Band-Aid if they're not for real. <v Juanita Tate>And they don't come and reloose- release the du- the true dollars to
<v Juanita Tate>really make a difference. And they know no sense in nobody coming here for no band-aid. See, <v Juanita Tate>when they burnt down Watts, there was nobody out there stomping the street for the people <v Juanita Tate>in Watts. It's a different story now, and if they don't do something to tell the truth, <v Juanita Tate>we're going to tell the truth on em. We're gonna tell it! <v Narrator>So you don't- you don't want things to go back to normal. <v Juanita Tate>No it's got to go- we already at the bottom, there ain't nowhere to go. <v Narrator>During the Bush tour, other South Central Los Angeles residents expressed similar <v Narrator>frustrations. A member of the Bush entourage, Housing Secretary Jack Kemp, <v Narrator>wanted to hear what they had to say. <v Resident>You guys, look at this. This is- <v Jack Kemp>We are. That's why we're here. That's why we're here. <v Resident>-a symptom of putting a Band-Aid on cancer. <v Resident>I'm a contractor here. I'm an electrician. <v Resident>I'm just getting my license. I want to put together some programs- <v Jack Kemp>Good. I wanna see it. <v Resident>-to try to take some of these youngsters out of these jail facilities. <v Jack Kemp>As soon as you get it on paper, you give it to Jack Kemp. <v Resident>I'll send it to you personally. It's on the record, sir. <v Jack Kemp>All right. <v Resident>Don't forget us now. <v Narrator>Tomorrow, President Bush plans to visit firefighters and law enforcement
<v Narrator>officials before leaving Los Angeles in the midmorning. <v Narrator>All around Los Angeles, the charred hulks of burned out buildings remind <v Narrator>residents of the chaos of just two weeks ago. <v Narrator>As the flames and looting erupted, so, too, did the comparisons <v Narrator>between 1992 and Watts in 1965. <v Narrator>But there are big differences. In 1965, the unrest was confined <v Narrator>to the south central area, then a mostly black neighborhood. <v Narrator>In 1992, the fires and looting were widespread. <v Narrator>South central L.A., now a black and Latino neighborhood, was affected, but <v Narrator>rioting also took place in poor communities throughout L.A.. <v Narrator>Nearly 8000 people were arrested in the city of Los Angeles. <v Narrator>Compared to 1965, why were the disturbances so spread out
<v Narrator>around Los Angeles? <v Mike Hernandez>Well I think you have many more communes with have-nots. <v Mike Hernandez>I think that's the reality is we've been spread out more. <v Narrator>L.A. City Councilman Mike Hernandez represents one of the poorest neighborhoods in the <v Narrator>city, Pico Union, close to downtown where 61 buildings <v Narrator>were burned down. <v Mike Hernandez>This is a neighborhood that's basically very much people rich and resource poor. <v Mike Hernandez>I have over 150 people living per acre in this particular area. <v Mike Hernandez>We have an elementary school down the street with 2000 kids and we're trying to figure <v Mike Hernandez>out where they're gonna go to junior high school. <v Mike Hernandez>We have no park space, no open space in this immediate area. <v Mike Hernandez>High unemployment rate. It tends to be a first stop center for people from Central <v Mike Hernandez>America. <v Narrator>In the shadow of downtown, the Pico Union neighborhood has the densest population <v Narrator>in Los Angeles. Thousands of immigrants who fled El Salvador and Guatemala <v Narrator>have turned Pico Union into a neighborhood reminiscent of a Central American <v Narrator>barrio. Not only are some street scenes similar, so is the poverty. <v Narrator>Homeless people take up residence on the sidewalk.
<v Narrator>Street vendors hawk their wares. <v Narrator>One Sergio Miranda witnessed the outbreak of violence last Wednesday night. <v Sergio Miranda>[speaking Spanish] <v Translator>Oh he said a van- when I was cleaning up, there was a van <v Translator>that was coming down ?Bonibret? with a like a molotov cocktail uh that was already <v Translator>on fire, something on fire- [asks question in Spanish] and they threw it, and then it hit La Barata. <v Narrator>So you saw a Molotov cocktail go into... <v Translator>[asks question in Spanish] <v Translator> Yeah I saw it, thrown from a van, and it- I saw it- it <v Translator>hit the La Barata and I saw it blow up. <v Narrator>That fire reduced a thriving appliance store <v Narrator>to a heap of charcoal. Some local residents were burned out of their homes <v Narrator>in the violence. At the Central American Refugee Center, or ?caressan?, the
<v Narrator>needy picked up emergency supplies. <v Narrator>Caressan also helps refugees apply for work permits. <v Narrator>Some said when the rioting took place, they felt they were back in a war zone. <v Narrator>Among them, a Salvadoran woman named Marta. <v Marta>[speaking Spanish] <v Translator>That's exactly what happened in my country. <v Translator>Buildings were looted. They were burned up. <v Translator>People were killed. Just when I go outside of my building and I see all that happening, I <v Translator>feel like I'm in my country. <v Translator>There's no peace. <v Narrator>Andres Candido, a Caressan staff member, says a lack of jobs for immigrants <v Narrator>led to crime before and during the riots. <v Narrator>Candido himself lives with his wife and 7 children a few blocks away <v Narrator>in a one bedroom apartment, an apartment that costs 800 dollars a month to <v Narrator>maintain. Candido earns 1000 dollars a month. <v Narrator>The place is so crowded, he and his wife have to sleep behind a cardboard partition <v Narrator>in their living room. <v Andres Candido>Muchas personas que...
<v Translator>I know many people, many Salvadorans who've come to this country looking <v Translator>for work. And when they didn't find the work, I've seen many <v Translator>people who are honorable turned to drugs, uh to <v Translator>selling uh false documents, to becoming pirates <v Translator>in the street who sell drugs for 10 or 15 dollars in <v Translator>the street. <v Narrator>Not every Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles was affected by the violence in the same <v Narrator>way as Pico Union. On the other side of downtown is East Los Angeles, <v Narrator>the traditional heart of the Mexican-American community here. <v Narrator>Although this area, made up largely of blue collar families, has its share of problems, <v Narrator>it remained virtually immune from the violence that beset other neighborhoods, such <v Narrator>as Pico Union. The main reason, according to supermarket owner and businessman <v Narrator>Joe Sanchez, a class difference. <v Narrator>East L.A. is better off than Pico Union. <v Joe Sanchez>It is a problem of the haves and the have-nots.
<v Joe Sanchez>These were the have-nots that really didn't have a lot to lose. <v Joe Sanchez>In East L.A., it wouldn't happen because most of the people have jobs. <v Narrator>So you felt that uh you believe that people here feel they've got more of <v Narrator>a stake in this community? <v Joe Sanchez>Yes. <v Narrator>Similar points were made at a press conference attended by Sanchez and other members <v Narrator>of the influential Mexican-American Grocers Association. <v Panelist>He notes that Latino households are more likely than any other household to have your <v Panelist>classic nuclear family. Mother, father, brother, sister, your dog, Spot, and your cat, <v Panelist>Puff, increasingly as a Latino situation. <v Narrator>These community leaders were trying to ensure that the Latinos are included in plans <v Narrator>to rebuild L.A.. <v Narrator>Their pleas were made in East Los Angeles to an attentive crowd of local newspeople. <v Narrator>It was quite a contrast to a similar appeal made at the same time by Councilman <v Narrator>Hernandez in the Pico Union neighborhood. <v Narrator>There was little press interest in Hernandez's attempt to publicize rebuilding <v Narrator>efforts here. <v Mike Hernandez>This is the area where we weren't getting police response.
<v Mike Hernandez>This is the area where the fire department could not attend because they didn't have that <v Mike Hernandez>police protection and a lot of these buildings just went down. <v Narrator>But the problems in this neighborhood go beyond just physical devastation. <v Narrator>Madeline Janice is Caressan's executive director. <v Narrator>She says that the riots added a new layer of fear to the normal level of <v Narrator>anxiety many people here feel. <v Madeline Janice>On Saturday and Sunday of last week, when everyone else was talking <v Madeline Janice>about healing and reconciliation and calm, the <v Madeline Janice>federal government and the LAPD sent 400 Border Patrol agents right <v Madeline Janice>into the heart of the immigrant neighborhood, struck fear and terror into the hearts <v Madeline Janice>of many, many, many people. <v Madeline Janice>Um and the police called upon the I.N.S., the Immigration Naturalization Service, <v Madeline Janice>to assist them in the arrest, detention of not <v Madeline Janice>only looters, not only people involved in the destruction and the rioting, but <v Madeline Janice>a lot of people just because of their ethnicity.
<v Narrator>This man was one of 700 turned over to the immigration service out of thousands <v Narrator>picked up by police during and after the rioting. <v Narrator>He was kept in a cell with other deportees. <v Narrator>With no air conditioning, the place seemed like a sauna. <v Narrator>Civil rights lawyers complained that detention facilities are inhumane and <v Narrator>that law enforcement officials used the riots as an opportunity for wholesale roundups <v Narrator>of immigrants. Edward Flynn is Caressan's legal director. <v Edward Flynn>Well, there's been appalling violations of people's civil liberties um in <v Edward Flynn>Los Angeles in the last week and a half. <v Edward Flynn>Both the Los Angeles Police Department and the I.N.S. <v Edward Flynn>have been uh stopping people in huge numbers on <v Edward Flynn>the barest of pretexts or on no pretext at all and have been demanding to <v Edward Flynn>know their immigration status. <v Edward Flynn>And if people respond that they're from another country, they've been taken immediately <v Edward Flynn>into I.N.S. Custody. <v Edward Flynn>There appears to have been a concerted effort to root out people who are allegedly <v Edward Flynn>undocumented and to deport them as quickly as possible.
<v Narrator>Robert Mushrack is district director of the Immigration Service. <v Narrator>He described detention facilities as nice and said there was no wholesale <v Narrator>roundup of immigrants. <v Robert Mushrack>So there were arrests being made, but not in such dramatic numbers, <v Robert Mushrack>as you would say, or painted as a roundup in the streets of illegal aliens. <v Robert Mushrack>That was certainly not the case. <v Robert Mushrack>Those efforts were targeted at specific individuals who were suspect- suspected <v Robert Mushrack>of criminal violations, either because of thievery, looting, or that they <v Robert Mushrack>were involved in some kind of gang activity. <v Robert Mushrack>I think the numbers speak for themself and the numbers, I think are dramatic. <v Robert Mushrack>We know that over 700 people were taken into custody by <v Robert Mushrack>I.N.S. as deportable aliens, people who were not supposed to be here, and their arrests <v Robert Mushrack>were attributed directly to the civil unrest. <v Narrator>Since the riots, there have been calls for greater crackdowns on illegal immigrants, <v Narrator>but Latino concerns go way beyond immigration matters. <v Narrator>Latinos comprise some 40 percent of the L.A.
<v Narrator>population. Most have stable family ties and a strong work ethic. <v Narrator>But the pattern of success and mobility goes just so far. <v Narrator>There are still many neighborhoods where success and mobility have no home. <v Narrator>That became painfully clear two weeks ago in places like Pico Union, <v Narrator>places that were ripe for burning. <v Narrator>On April 29th, TV cameras recorded a series of brutal attacks at the <v Narrator>intersection of Florence and Normandy Avenues in South Central Los Angeles. <v Narrator>Starting soon after the verdict in the Rodney King beating case, black youths pelted <v Narrator>motorists with rocks and bottles. <v Narrator>Some drivers were even pulled from their cars, beaten and robbed. <v Narrator>Police were nowhere in sight. It was mob rule.
<v Narrator>The viciousness of the attack on white truck driver Reginald Denny, broadcast <v Narrator>on live TV, quickly became a symbol of out-of-control racial violence. <v Narrator>Two weeks after the Denny beating, police made high-profile arrests of four <v Narrator>men in connection with the case. Prosecutors asked they be held without bail <v Narrator>and charged them with attempted murder, robbery, mayhem and torture. <v Judge>The complaint sets forth the following special allegations: as to Damian <v Judge>Williams, gang association in the commission of the alleged offenses. <v Narrator>Police say the violence at Florence and Normandy was orchestrated by gangs <v Narrator>and that 3 of the 4 defendants are violent gang members. <v Narrator>The defendants deny gang affiliations and many in the black community <v Narrator>are rallying to the defense of men they call the L.A. <v Narrator>Four. <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>Uh we're going to make certain that justice is available to them as justice has been <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>available to anyone else. <v Narrator>The Reverend Edgar Boyd is pastor of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
<v Narrator>He and other leaders are afraid that the man accused of assaulting Reginald Denny <v Narrator>will not be treated fairly by the same justice system that acquitted the white <v Narrator>officers who beat Rodney King. <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>Give these four young men the same level of consideration. <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>Let them remain innocent until a justice system proves them <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>guilty. <v Narrator>The four men, Antoine Miller, Damien Williams, Gary Williams and Henry <v Narrator>Watson have pleaded not guilty to the charges. <v Narrator>A fifth, Anthony Brown, has pleaded innocent to a charge of spitting on Danny as <v Narrator>Danny lay on the ground. <v Narrator>The bail on the men ranges up to $580,000. <v Narrator>Three of those charged in the Danny attack are also accused of assaulting a dozen other <v Narrator>people at the intersection. <v Narrator>Today, gutted buildings at Florence and Normandy are reminders of the chilling <v Narrator>violence which occurred there. <v Narrator>Tom's Liquor Store, one of the first looted in the riots, has reopened.
<v Narrator>And there is a new business on the corner, a stand selling T-shirts, reading <v Narrator>Justice for the L.A. 4, raises money for the defendants. <v Supporter>Bake <v Supporter>sale. Come on, get a cake. Pies, too. <v Narrator>A block away, supporters of the men recently held a bake sale. <v Narrator>Some neighbors sported yellow ribbons to demonstrate their support. <v Narrator>Friends and family were quick to disavow the violence that occurred at Florence and <v Narrator>Normandy. They say they're speaking out because they feel the bail is excessive <v Narrator>and the charges overstated. <v Narrator>Georgina Williams, a nurse, said she's only seeking fair treatment for her son, <v Narrator>Damien, charged with beating Danny and 9 other people. <v Georgina Williams>I'm saying if the boys did this, they should be arrested, but treat <v Georgina Williams>them like you treat other people. The justice ?system? <v Georgina Williams>should be the same for me as it is for you. <v Georgina Williams>You got the same law books. <v Ira Reiner>Somebody who sees- <v Narrator>Los Angeles District Attorney Ira Reiner maintains the justice system <v Narrator>is fair. <v Ira Reiner>There is only a single standard of justice, and that standard is
<v Ira Reiner>that where there crime has been committed, it will be investigated and it will be <v Ira Reiner>prosecuted. It was prosecuted in the King case, and it's going to be prosecuted in this <v Ira Reiner>case right here. <v Narrator>But many in this predominantly black community say there are different standards <v Narrator>in their neighborhood. Young men complain the police too often assume they are gang <v Narrator>members. Auto mechanic Coleman Cunningham is charged with throwing <v Narrator>rocks at police just prior to the violence at Florence and Normandy. <v Narrator>He says the Rodney King verdict ignited an anger about what many in the community <v Narrator>feel is constant police harassment. <v Coleman Cunningham>It's not the Rodney King verdict that has everyone upset. <v Coleman Cunningham>It's the years of police officers treating blacks like this. <v Coleman Cunningham>I've never got a ticket sitting in my car. <v Coleman Cunningham>I've always got to get out, put your hands up. <v Coleman Cunningham>You know what I mean? <v Narrator>Some residents say police action may have triggered the violence at Florence and Normandy <v Narrator>on April 29th. Police first responded to reports of rocks and bottles
<v Narrator>being thrown a few blocks away. <v Narrator>They arrested 3 people. One of them was let go without charges filed against <v Narrator>him. That young man who asked us not to identify him said his arrest <v Narrator>and treatment by the police enraged an angry crowd. <v Unidentified man>The police, they, you know, had um- had started after <v Unidentified man>me and I haven't done nothing. They had thought I had throw a rock. <v Unidentified man>And all my friends, they were standing around and they knew I hadn't threw no rock. <v Jay Kiwana>The officers had handcuffed the young man and threw him over the fence like <v Jay Kiwana>he was a piece of garbage. <v Narrator>Jay Kiwana, owner of a nearby car wash, said the police should have handled matters <v Narrator>differently. <v Jay Kiwana>When you see so- an incident like that you first thing that came to they mind after just <v Jay Kiwana>hearing that verdict on television, that it wouldn't be another Rodney King incident. <v Unidentified man>I was on the ground and they was trying to handcuff me. <v Unidentified man>And a officer said to me, don't make this another Rodney King thing. <v Narrator>The crowd taunted police officers who were ordered to leave.
<v Narrator>[police radio of orders to leave] <v Narrator>After the police retreated, a group of men attacked a photographer. <v Narrator>A crowd then gathered at Florence and Normandy. <v Narrator>The attacks on mostly non-black passersby went on for at least 2 hours. <v Unidentified speaker>That's how ?inaudible? Rodney King felt, white boy. <v Narrator>Among the victims was construction worker Fidel Lopez, who still doesn't <v Narrator>understand why he was beaten or why the police weren't there to help him. <v Fidel Lopez>I almost lost my life for nothing. <v Fidel Lopez>Because I know those people. It's in that bad moment. <v Fidel Lopez>They are angry with ?inaudible? or anybody, I don't care with who. <v Fidel Lopez>And uh, but I'm the victim. I'm innocent then. <v Fidel Lopez>I don't know where they do- why they do that to me. <v Fidel Lopez>And they say they hit 10 or more people before me. <v Fidel Lopez>And they say where's the police? <v Narrator>With no police around, several good Samaritans risked their lives to save victims.
<v Narrator>A pastor helped Lopez to safety. <v Narrator>Others eventually rescued Reginald Denny, who, according to his doctor, was left near <v Narrator>death as he lay next to his truck. <v Narrator>Barbara and James Henry rescued a Latino motorist who was beaten unconscious <v Narrator>in front of their home. <v James Henry>Me and another guy just kind of lifted him up and just took him over to the side <v James Henry>and laid him right where you see that- that red mark. <v Narrator>The Henry family has lived in this home for 10 years. <v Narrator>James Henry, an aerospace worker, says he was angered by the violence, but <v Narrator>he understands it. <v James Henry>Oh I was li- ver- very angry because it wasn't the way to go about making a change. <v James Henry>You know, I- I sympathize with- with how they felt. <v James Henry>But I- but I didn't agree with how they were going about trying to make a change. <v Narrator>The Henrys are sympathetic because they've seen the neighborhood deteriorate. <v Narrator>They've witnessed rising unemployment and crime and are planning to move <v Narrator>because they want their son, Jock, to live in a community without gangs.
<v Barbara Henry>And I don't really want Jock to have to make a choice about <v Barbara Henry>Bloods or Crips. Republican or Democrat, Independent, yes, but not- I <v Barbara Henry>don't want him to have to make that type of choice. <v Barbara Henry>And if we stayed here, it's almost imperative that he's going to have to make a <v Barbara Henry>choice. <v Narrator>The residential area around Florence and Normandy appears to be a typical middle class <v Narrator>neighborhood, but it's not. <v Narrator>Some 21 percent of the residents live below the poverty level. <v Narrator>The poverty rate is even higher than it was during the 1965 Watts riots. <v Narrator>Back then, residents were able to use the income from relatively well-paying factory <v Narrator>jobs to buy these single family homes. <v Narrator>But those jobs have largely dried up. <v James Henry>So you- you have more poverty <v James Henry>and joblessness because the jobs are just not available. <v James Henry>You know, there's not, I don't think a single
<v James Henry>factory type of organization that's in <v James Henry>a 3 mile radius here. <v Woman>Is it Avenue or Street? <v Narrator>After the recent riots, the federal government expanded its summer employment program. <v Narrator>Young applicants waited in line for hours for mostly minimum wage jobs. <v Woman>Okay, have you been in jail before? <v Narrator>But the jobs offered here are only temporary. <v Narrator>Many in the community, such as family physician Acey Mitchell, would like to see <v Narrator>long lasting solutions to the area's deep seated problems. <v Narrator>Mitchell has worked in the community for 20 years and has also seen its slow <v Narrator>decline. <v Acey Mitchell>I see people walking up and down the street who used to ride in cars. <v Acey Mitchell>I see children who used to be well-dressed walking up and down the street, not <v Acey Mitchell>quite so well-dressed now. <v Acey Mitchell>So this tells me that what I'm looking at is a deteriorating neighborhood.
<v Narrator>Mitchell feels the riots were an expression of frustration. <v Acey Mitchell>These kids are trying to express themselves. <v Acey Mitchell>They're frustrated. They're rebelling against the system. <v Acey Mitchell>You cannot do this to me forever and get away with it. <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>We must embrace each other as we stand up and speak out <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>for justice and for what's right. <v Narrator>The Reverend Edgar Boyd is helping to raise money for the defendants accused in the <v Narrator>Florence and Normandy violence. <v Narrator>He rejects the use of the word riot. <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>It was a rebellion. <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>Uh it was a group of people who had been uh isolated, who had been <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>uh um ostracized, who had been uh just pushed out, disallowed uh <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>to participate in the institutions that make differences, institutions that make <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>decisions, institutions that really govern the welfare of the people who <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>make up the community. And they then lashed out at the institution, not <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>particularly at Reginald Denny, because they didn't know Reginald Denny from anybody
<v Reverend Edgar Boyd>else. He just happened to be a white American who represented the institution, and <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>they responded. They reacted. <v Narrator>And you can understand that? <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>I can understand that. I am not condoning anything that's immoral. <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>I'm not condoning anything that's irresponsible, nor anything that's unlawful. <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>But I can understand the trauma, the social and emotional trauma through which they went, <v Reverend Edgar Boyd>because I went through it too. <v Narrator>Riot or rebellion, all sides, community activists, police and prosecutors <v Narrator>agree, the neighborhood has significant social and economic problems. <v Narrator>But for the short term, those in law enforcement are treating the violence at Florence <v Narrator>and Normandy as a series of street crimes. <v Narrator>The prosecutor in charge of the cases is Lawrence Morrison. <v Lawrence Morrison>For whatever reason, uh there's an outbreak of violence and <v Lawrence Morrison>characterize it as civil unrest, an uprising, a rebellion or even a riot. <v Lawrence Morrison>We're treating this as a series of crimes that individuals committed.
Series
MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
Episode
L.A. Riot
Producing Organization
KCET (Television station : Los Angeles, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip-526-nk3610x19q
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Description
Series Description
"As an institution, KCET responded to the Los Angeles riots in four distinct ways: "KCET's MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour team offered in-depth coverage of breaking news throughout the civil unrest. "Within 24 hours of the outbreak of violence, 'Life & Times,' the station's nightly public affairs program, was on the air with the first of a series of studio discussions. Within 72 hours, the program became a forum for a 90-minute Town Hall meeting bringing together a diverse group of 40 community leaders for a brutally frank analysis of problems, trying to chart early steps to help and the nightmare burning through our communities and heal the damage done. "'Life & Times' sustained its involvement with these issues after the violence subsided. In a follow-up Special Report 'Exit King Boulevard.' This program allowed residents of the most affected communities to voice their thoughts, feelings and reactions to the devastation'and show viewers first-hand the personal depth of the problem. Six months later, 'Return to King Boulevard' [revisited] the community to show what progress had been made and the many problems that remain unanswered. "Finally, in the days following the riots, KCET offered psychological services by phone in a service called 'A Chance to Talk.' For 10 days, 200 volunteer graduate students from UCLA's School of Social Welfare gathered at KCET phone banks to provide person-to-person counseling in English, Spanish, and Korean. Counseling messages were broadcast hourly on KCET with phone numbers to call from morning until well into the evening."-- 1992 Peabody Awards entry form
Broadcast Date
1992
Asset type
Episode
Media type
Moving Image
Duration
01:02:34.516
Embed Code
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Credits
: Lehrer, Jim
Producing Organization: KCET (Television station : Los Angeles, Calif.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-c483b3507fb (Filename)
Format: U-matic
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Citations
Chicago: “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour; L.A. Riot,” 1992, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-nk3610x19q.
MLA: “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour; L.A. Riot.” 1992. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-nk3610x19q>.
APA: MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour; L.A. Riot. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-nk3610x19q