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by No justice No peace
Monday, May. 16, 2005 at 8:17 PM
A Short history of riots in Los Angeles
A Short history of riots in Los Angeles:
The Chinatown Riot:
October 24, 1871 several police entered Chinatown to break up an argument between members of the tongs. Whether by anger or accident, a white man ended up dead by gunshot wound. Shortly thereafter, a mob of 500 non-Asian Angelenos began hunting down and assaulting every Chinese they could find. After five hours, the mobs had killed 19 Chinese men and boys. Chinese homes and businesses were also looted. The incident drew national attention and provoked a grand jury investigation. Seven men were held responsible and convicted for the riots, but only one actually served any jail time.
The Sailor Riot, aka, The Zoot Suit Riot:
June 3, 1943, a number of sailors claimed to have been beaten and robbed by Mexican pachucos. The following evening, a mob of about 200 sailors, tired of boredom and fired up with bigotry, hired a fleet of cabs and rolled into East Los Angeles to beat up and strip the clothing off any young Latino male they could find. The authorities seemed to approve. Police made a few initial token arrests of sailors, but they were quickly released. This emboldened the sailors. For several subsequent nights, the swelling mobs of sailors were joined by soldiers and some civilians as they invaded the barrio, marching abreast down streets, invading bars and movie houses, assaulting and humiliating any and all young Latino males, many not attired in "zoot suits." Young Black and Filipino males unfortunate enough to be in the area were also assaulted. Mobs of servicemen in search of "zoot suiters" also prowled the Pike in Long Beach. Although police accompanied the caravans of rioting servicemen, police orders were to let the shore patrol and military police deal with military men. Instead, after several days of rioting and assaults by servicemen, more than 150 had been injured and police had arrested and charged more than 500 Latino youths for "rioting" or "vagrancy," many themselves the victims.
The Watts Riot:
August 13-16, 1965, an incident between traffic police and pedestrians developed into two days of spontaneous riots. Despite increasing reinforcements, the forces of order were unable to regain control of the streets. By the third day the people had armed themselves by looting accessible gun stores, enabling them to fire even on police helicopters. It took thousands of police and soldiers, including an entire infantry division supported by tanks, to confine the riot to the Watts area, and several more days of street fighting to finally bring it under control. Stores were massively plundered and many were burned. Official sources listed 32 dead, more than 800 wounded and 3000 arrests.
The MLK Riots:
At 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, a shot rang out. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had been standing on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, now lay sprawled on the balcony's floor. A gaping wound covered a large portion of his jaw and neck. A great man who had spent thirteen years of his life dedicating himself to nonviolent protest had been felled by a sniper's bullet. A full week of rioting erupted in every city across the United States including Los Angeles.
The Rodney King Riot:
April 29-May 3, 1992, the nation's worst civil disorder of the twentieth century, with a toll of 60 people killed, more than 4,000 injured, and an estimated 0 million in property damage. Rioting broke out in the South Central section of the city following the acquittal of four white police officers accused of beating black motorist Rodney G. King. The beating had attracted international attention because an amateur photographer's videotape recording of the incident showed the officers repeatedly kicking King and striking him with their batons as he lay on the ground. Anger at the apparent condoning of police brutality and frustration with a lack of economic opportunity and with the perceived unfairness of the justice system exploded in five days of rioting in Los Angeles and in scattered violence in San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, Seattle, and other U.S. cities.
What do all these riots have in common? Well if you have to ask you just don’t get it. Let’s ask ourselves the following questions about these riots: Who got killed or injured? Whose neighborhood went up in flames? Who was blamed for the riot and who really caused it? What was the response of the police and the government? Did anything really change for the better afterwards?
If we are headed toward another riot in this city then maybe we should learn from the past.
Perhaps the next riot won’t be in Chinatown, or East LA, or Watts or South Central. Perhaps it will be on target. Perhaps it will start at the source of the injustice that causes these riots to occur
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