- Ice Cube, "Wicked"
It has been fifteen years. Fifteen years since the city of Los Angeles was burned, almost beyond recognition. Fifteen years city since the powder keg exploded, since the weeds came up and choked the life out of the community. Since the tears turned to anger, turned to rage, turned to violence, turned to exploitation, then turned to recovery.
We, the citizens of the City of Angels, witnessed it firsthand. It was MORE than anger. It was confusion, frustration, and anger. It was Daryl Gates and LAPD's finest in rare form. It was trying to figure out, at a very young age, "Where is the hell IS Simi Valley, anyway?"
It's not so much important to get into the minutia details of what happened on Florence and Normandie. All of us know them. And it only takes going down one of our many streets that NEVER recovered, where the buildings are dilapidated, or GONE, replaced with nothing but bitterness, violence, and memories of how and why it happened.
Just as everyone can remember where you were and what you were doing during 09/11, or the OJ verdict, we all remember how we felt and where we were when this story broke.
We weren't surprised at the video that emerged when we saw Rodney King. Our thought was "Oh, so now they have it on tape". We WERE, however, surprised that they changed venues, and relocated the trial to bum fuck Egypt, otherwise known as Simi Valley, a suburbian community that is at least 45 minutes outside of Greater Los Angeles. But hey, from a technical perspective what should that matter for us, because there WAS a tape, and there WAS the evidence. Mind you, we knew that Rodney King was a hot mess and probably had one too many Remy's or Sticky Icky's, but what we saw on those tapes was not restraint, it was brutal assault. Moreover, it just looked TOO EASY. . .The officers looked like they were playing caroms with their sticks.
Then, the verdict was announced.
For myself, I was at home that day from work and school. My mother had went to a funeral. I was stunned. The tears burned in the back of my irises. I didn't know what to think. Then I saw what was happening on Florence and Normandie. What they call South Central LA. What we call a couple of blocks West of the 110 Freeway. . .And it just grew, and grew, and grew. The Los Angels Riots ha
For most of us in Los Angeles, everything that was happening was surreal. We did everything, including stocking up on food and water, thinking that it would be a shortage. My School (California State University, Los Angeles), closed up for the rest of the week. There was NO Internet boon at the time, and you only had a cell phone if you were doctor or a drug dealer, so you were glued to the TV, transfixed by what you saw, you were running to your phone because someone paged you :P or you were going to page someone.
It felt like the LA Riots would never end. And, to some degree, it hasn't.
And the grassroots healing began. All kinds of Non Profit (read: Suspect) organizations came out of the woodwork. The "Rebuild LA" project came to the forefront, and now downtown LA has is turning into a major place to be. (anyone who lives down here knows that at this point, you best not be caught dead down there after 8pm unless you're going to see the Lakers). Somebody was somewhere. I know people that were getting their hair braided at the time, I know folks that were DOING TIME, that lived right in the thick of it, and who participated in in. For all of us Angelenos and those who understood across the nation, it was a turning point. Whether you were hurt by it, saw it as an opportunity to rob and steal, or figured it had to be tore down to get some attention, we are still here. We are still standing.
We are, the people of the City of Angeles. We are the Angelenos.
What do YOU remember about the Los Angeles Riots? Where were YOU?