It began with a verdict:
Twenty-Five years ago today, riots, violence and chaos exploded on the streets of Los Angeles after an LA court ruled not guilty for four police officers who were caught on film brutally attacking an unarmed, African American motorist.
Fast forward to present day and not much has changed. African American men, women, children, teenagers, fathers and sons continue to die at the hands of Police.
Freddie Gray’s, 25, neck was broken in the back of police van in 2016.
Natasha McKenna died after being shocked four times with stun gun; she was handcuffed.
Christian Taylor, 19 was shot dead in a car dealership in 2016 and in 2014 Tamir Rice, 12 was gunned down after police mistook his toy gun for a real gun.
And the number of fatalities at the hands of police continues to rise.
April 29th, 1992 Los Angeles was declared to be in a state of emergency as violent riots broke loose across the city. The riots were captured on camera from start to finish, from the verdict to the bloody, violent conclusion.
The riots left 55 dead, more than 2000 injured and caused 1 billion dollars’ worth of damage some of which is still evident today.
The six-day rioting was triggered when shocking video footage of Rodney King being beaten by four policemen was released. The chilling video evidence was solid, physical proof of police brutality, and yet in 1992 the four officers responsible for the beating were acquitted of all charges.
Mayor Tom Bradley asked Gov. Pete Wilson to activate the National Guard of 2,000 soldiers. What followed were city-wide curfews, closure of schools and 4,000 more National Guard troops deployed.
By the third of May 1992 over 1,100 Marines, 600 Army soldiers and 6,500 National Guard troops patrolled the streets of Los Angeles, and George Bush addressed the nation:
I would use whatever force necessary to restore order
Eerily the footage of the riots captured on that day 25 years ago feels like today’s news. The events that unfolded, the trial and subsequent acquittal is as shocking yet plausible now as it was then.
And that thought may be more terrifying, than the event itself.
Watch L.A.92 Sunday 8.30 pm AEST on National Geographic