April 30, 1992 -I’m sure there was a lot going on in the world, but on this April 30 in 1992, the only news that seemed to matter was coming from Los Angeles. Especially if you lived here. L.A. was erupting. With reports of fires and disturbances throughout the entire city, it was the day to stay home and keep the news on.
Only hours earlier, the verdict was handed down in the Rodney King beating trial, the infamous case where motorist Rodney King was stopped, savagely beaten and arrested by members of the CHP and LAPD in the Lake View Terrace suburb in the Valley. Rodney King was Black. The officers doing the beating were White. A trial ensued with the four officers, caught on video at the time of the beating were acquitted by an all-White jury at the trial, held in Simi Valley; an adjacent community outside of Los Angeles.
When the verdict of acquittal was handed down, and in the words of film Director John Singleton; “By having this verdict, what these people done, they lit the fuse to a bomb.”
On this day, Mayor Bradley signed an order for a dusk-to-dawn curfew at 12:15 am for the core area affected by the riots. At 10:15 am, he expanded the area under curfew. By mid-morning, violence appeared widespread and unchecked as extensive looting and arson were witnessed across Los Angeles County. Rioting moved from South Central Los Angeles, going north through the neighborhoods of Central Los Angeles before reaching Hollywood. The looting and fires engulfed Hollywood Boulevard, before rioting erupted in the neighboring cities of Inglewood, Hawthorne, Compton and Long Beach.
What followed next were six days of widespread violence that seemed to engulf Los Angeles, leaving 63 people dead and some 2,400 people injured. Over 3,000 fires were set and some 1,100 buildings were destroyed.
To get an idea (if you weren’t in L.A. or even born at the time) of what the sound of uncertainty was like, here is a 1-hour snapshot of Los Angeles in the midst of a riot, as reported by KNX Newsradio starting at 6:50 until 7:50 in the morning.