This media shorthand makes me so angry. As someone who has been present at many so-called “riots” in Los Angeles, every single one of them was started by the L.A.P.D. getting violent. (In fact even the “riot” here in Brooklyn on election night 2008 was started by the cops.)
The Webster Report makes it clear that a phalanx of police officers advanced on a peaceful demonstration against a chilling verdict and set off the violence.
The police rioted: the people responded.
I’m not behind everything that happened during those riots—terrible things were done. But to even imply that Rodney King “sparked” what happened and ignore that the L.A.P.D. tried to kill him, tried to cover it up, and then attacked peaceful protestors makes me want to go find Daryl Gates’ grave and set it on fire.
The saddest thing in that story is how King had put up tarps so his neighbors couldn’t see him. R.I.P. to a gentle man who endured so much violence.
[Above, image of Ben is Dead June/July issue, 1992. It’s a photograph of a stretch of sidewalk on which someone has spraypainted “Bad Cop. No Donut.” It was on La Cienega just above Fountain and as soon as I saw it I ran home to have Don take a photo. I think those are my toes to the left.]