Friday, April 27, 2012

Retro Friday: April 29, 1992 Edition

20 years ago, I was a freshman at Northwestern University, glued to my TV screen and feeling a bit helpless as I watched the world explode 2,000 miles away. I had already taken a few sociology classes centered on the study of race, class and power, and found myself watching the end result of everything I'd been studying. By the time I had moved to L.A. in 1996, the city had subsequently also suffered a terrible earthquake and was slowly getting its senses back.

Here are some YouTube selections from coverage within the first 24 hours of the riots:

Live coverage from KTLA on April 30, 1992, with the late Hal Fishman and late Larry McCormick in the studio, and Stan Chambers up in the helicopter (!).

"I imagine this looks like London at the Blitz," Fishman says. "It's a tragedy for everyone who is viewing this."

Edward James Olmos, voice of reason, meets with Hal and Larry in the KTLA studio. "It's a very sad time right now," he says. "I made up my mind a couple moments ago, I'm going to be at the First A.M.E. Church with a broom in my hand and start the process of cleaning this place up." Also: "We must understand these are our children. They may be heavily armed but they are children. That's the sadness, we're going to find ourselves in a deep sense of sorrow before this night is over." But when the female anchor refers to it as a "craziness," he takes her to task. "I don't find it to be a craziness at all. I think it's a frustration and an anger."

Arsenio Hall with the Rev. Cecil Murray at the First A.M.E. Church. "You cannot get peace with violence. We are not a violent people. We can't tear up our neighborhood. Nobody cares if we tear down our neighborhood. If we burn down a building, we take jobs from black people. Friends, neighborhoods. Don't burn down the buildings, burn down the ballot boxes."

Talk about strange timing: KNBC interrupts live coverage of the riots to air the final episode of "The Cosby Show." That day, as Jess Marlow notes here, Mayor Tom Bradley urged the city to stay indoors and watch the episode. "We need this time. A little bit of a cooling off period."

From KABC: Live coverage of the Reginald Denny beating.

"Can we all get along?" 20 years later, Rodney King's plea for calm.

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