Also, the community was still angry from the death of a 15-year-old black girl named Latasha Harlins, who was shot in the head a year earlier by a Korean store owner. The black community was feeling mis-served by those who were supposed to protect and serve.
On the day of the riots I was working on the weekly TV Cable News show in Compton, as one of three camera operators. One of the other camera men was Larshay Sellers. I remember that Tavis Smiley was a new radio and TV reporter who used to leave his L.A. radio show on Wednesday’s to make it over to Compton to shoot the evening news segment.
But before our news segment could began, the studio staff started pointing toward the TV set in one of the rooms, and footage of white truck driver Reginald Denny was being pulled out of his vehicle at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, and beaten. Buildings were being set on fire, and looted. South L.A. and surrounding areas were in chaos.
Five days later 50 people were dead, 2,000 injured, 1,000 buildings ransacked and/or destroyed, 12,000 arrested, and $1 Billion in damages. Mayor Tom Bradley declares a state of emergency, and Governor Pete Wilson calls in 9800 National Guards to restore order. I personally witnessed the Watts Riots in 1965, and the 1992 civil unrest was another sad time in L.A. where race relations over heated between blacks & whites, and started a rebellion.
Fast forward to today. This Vigil sponsored by the Empowerment Congress, a civic engagement organization, created shortly after the 1992 Riots by then City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, was nicely organized, and well attended. The event had elected & appointed officials, community leaders, business owners, students, community members, speakers, entertainers, and other supporters.
Parking was provided by nearby parking structures for those who drove personal vehicles, in addition three charter buses were used to transport others to the event. Lighted candles were provided to the diverse crowd of attendees, and the atmosphere was one of hope, courage, and resolve.
Just being there made me proud of the community coming together, to show solidarity and a commitment to make L.A. a better place to live and work.
Good job everyone!!
by: Tony Hicks
*P.S. Check back soon for more photos/videos on this article.