By Hal Collier
The following story is true. I’ll use first names unless there is a civil rights issue. This story will deal with my experiences during the L.A. Riots. I don’t usually put politics in my stories, but after 35 years of being politically correct in the L.A.P.D. I can’t be quiet anymore. These opinions are mine alone and are in direct contrast to the opinions of the L.A. Times, but I don’t care! We were told to refer to the riots as civil unrest. BS, there was nothing civil about what happened.
In March of 1991, the CHP pursued a speeding car into the San Fernando Valley. The car stopped and the passengers were arrested without incident. The driver, Rodney King, resisted arrest and even charged the officers. L.A.P.D. officers took over the incident because the CHP Officers were placing themselves in danger. The arrest was videotaped and broadcast on all TV the stations for months. The media conveniently omitted the first few seconds which show King resisting arrest. King was described as a black motorist by the media when in fact he was a paroled convict and under the influence. A trial was held in Simi Valley and the officers were acquitted. On the evening of April 29, 1992 the city broke out in riots.
There were two riots that broke out in LA that day. The riots that the media reported and the riots LA cops experienced. One based on a racial issues the other based on multi-racial people who saw an opportunity to get free stuff. Again my opinion.
I was a Senior Lead Officer in Hollywood Division. The Police Department mobilized, which means everyone works 12 hours shifts. I was assigned to A watch 6 A.M. to 6 P.M.
The watch started out slow, a few reports of looting in South Central L.A. As we checked all the Hollywood business districts, we could hear that the looting was spreading north. By noon the looting was sporadic in Hollywood. As officers caught looters and took them to the police station, we had fewer resources to deal with newer looters on the street.
My partner and I caught two white guys throwing rocks at a business window. So much for the race issue, they just wanted free stuff. They ran but we caught them a few blocks away. I was enroute to the station when I heard officers requesting help for widespread looting. I figured these two guys would be plead out to misdemeanor attempt vandalism. I released them and responded to the “help calls”.
Up and down Western Avenue from Hollywood Boulevard to Beverly Boulevard were reports of looting. Some businesses were set on fire. A supervisor requested all available units to respond to Santa Monica and Western Avenue. When we arrived, numerous businesses were on fire, there were thousands of people in the streets, mostly Hispanic. A shoe store was being looted. We formed up into a skirmish line.
Now I’ve had rocks and bottles thrown at me during demonstrations and at rock concerts at the Palladium. This group was throwing shoes from the shoe store on the corner. I just dodged a ladies pump, the officer next to me got hit with a cowboy boot in the shoulder. I’d never been shoed before. We moved the crowd west until we reached St. Andrews. Another few hundred people were gathered to the north. We didn’t have enough officers to protect our flank if we continued west. We had less than a dozen officers against thousands of people. We stood our ground as rioters threw at us whatever was handy. Most of these people were Hispanic, illegal immigrants, and I wonder if they knew who Rodney King was.
At one point I saw a guy in the back ground raise a handgun and fire off a shot in the air. We were told that the Sears store a block away was being looted, our sergeant says we don’t have enough officers. A few minutes later an unmarked police car drives up to me. It was two policemen and the Deputy Chief and Commander from our Bureau. The Commander, Bob, a great guy asked me is this all the officers you have, I reply “yea”. They turned around and left. About two months later, I was given a VHS tape taken by a news crew. The tape shows the back door of Sears. The two policemen and the Commander are chasing away the crowd. The Deputy Chief is standing at the back door, he has a shot gun and is butt stroking looters as they flee Sears. I’ll bet it was hard to carry a TV, run and be hit in the ass with a shot gun. It was the only justice I saw that day. Nothing politically correct, just old fashioned police work, taking care of business.
Another part of that tape shows a man standing outside a drug store on Hollywood Boulevard. He had a handful of shopping bags and was stopping people walking by and giving them a bag, then directing them into the drug store to take whatever they wanted.
My next story will deal with some of humorous incidents that happened during the “RIOTS”. It won’t be the stuff you see on the news or in the official L.A.P.D. documentary.
4 replies on “Ramblings: LA Riots, part 1”
[…] LA Riots, part 1 […]
I was 30 years old when the LA riots broke out. I live in New Jersey and wasn’t the least bit surprised that it happened. Many blacks living in my town were angry those officers were acquitted and it surprised me that they didn’t riot because the officer’s were found not guilty. Even though I don’t believe that Rodney King deserved to be beaten, I also knew that he wasn’t a completely innocent victim. Like with many black males, Rodney led CHP on a chase for a reason. A reason that could’ve landed him in jail. But he chose to put the pedal to the metal. The majority of those looters/rioters were/are just like Rodney: troublemakers. They commit crimes every minute of the day and night. There’s never any rioting when black on black crime occurs and it happens everyday.
Yes, there is always more to the story that meets the eye. No excusing the brutality but you are right: Rodney King was not innocent in all this.
Thonie, That’s a loaded issue and one’s opinion is probably dictated by your political views. To many, it was racial and to others it was a chance to get free stuff because the cops couldn’t be at every business. Where were the racial issues on the looting after Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana?
First let me comment on the trial. The media only showed the cops beating Rodney King. I have seen the entire tape where King charges the officers. I believe the media tried the case on TV and made the officers look guilty! When the jury saw all the evidence they acquitted the officers. It was probably the same with the Trayvon Martin trial. Even the President jumped in on that media frenzy.
I long for the old days when the media just reported the news without their political agenda interjected. Just my opinion, what do you think?