April 29th, 1992 by Andrew Esmundo

Let it burn, wanna let it burn, Wanna let it burn, wanna wanna let it burn

On April 29, 1992, there was a riot in the streets. The verdict of the Rodney King case had been delivered and all four officers were acquitted of assault and three out of the four were acquitted of excessive force. Within two hours, the streets of L.A. became a warzone. Nobody and nothing was safe. People were attacked, businesses looted, and buildings were burning. In the end, over fifty people lost their lives, thousands were hospitalized, and many parts of L.A. were in ruins. It was one of the deadliest and most destructive race-riots in U.S. history.

I myself was only a little more than a month old at the time but I had always wondered what it would have been like to have witnessed or even taken place in the riots. For this post, I have decided to discuss what I believe are the actions I would have taken at the time of the riots with the beliefs I carry today. Of course, because more than just one group was affected by the riots, I have to take that in consideration when deciding what I would have done at the time. The three races I chose to write about are Blacks, Whites, and Koreans. As for Koreans, it is the shop owners in particular I am referring to because their businesses became targets by rioters and many feel that the police left Korean shops to fend for themselves.

It is difficult to be able to truly say what I would have done during the riots if I were a black man, but I think I’m close. Due to my personal beliefs, I know I would have been outraged by the verdict delivered by the predominantly white jury with no black members. Not to mention the case was being heard in Simi Valley, a heavily white populated area. You can bet I would be out in the streets running and looting. I don’t know if I would necessarily go as far as burning buildings or attacking people but once again, it is impossible to know for certain. When chaos breaks out, it is hard to not get caught up in it and unleash a little chaos of your own.

As for being a white man during the riots, I already know exactly what I would be doing. I would be staying home and sitting on the couch watching the news with a loaded gun next to me. To go outside, depending on where I lived could be extremely dangerous and possibly cost me my life. White men, like Reginald Denny, an innocent white trucker who was almost beaten to death, became targets of Black anger. Another incident involved a white male named Haines, and his friend on their motorcycle. After coming to a stop, seven black males jumped the two and shot Haines, killing him. Ironically, Haines had been on his way to help his black friend move.

Last, but certainly not least, there were the Korean shop owners. Tensions had been rising over the years between the Black and Korean communities and it was during the riots that the two finally clashed. As a shop owner, I definitely would have armed myself to protect from looters. I have every right to own a store wherever I please as long as I am paying for it. Anyone who tried to take that away from me will have to do so with force. If the police were not going to help me, then I would take matters into my own hands. I believe the Koreans did the right thing during the riots and handled themselves well.