Tuesday, April 10, 2012

1992 L.A. Riots - A First Hand Account (Part X)


This is Part X of a X part series.  Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X

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The final installment on this man's experience with the '92 LA Riots.

Via Texas Arcane:
Hollywood burned. Including Madonna's bra collection.

They found four dead people a block away from us. One man had been shot to death in his garage.

They stopped the riot just a couple dozen meters from the Chinese theater. Lots of Hollywood landmarks were reduced to blackened ashes.

You had a sense when the sun went down that night, that whatever the affliction was, it had lost its vital force. The rioting had spent itself.

The National Guard finally arrived, way too late to make any difference. Curfew was maintained for weeks, martial law and tanks on street corners. The real purpose of the military presence was to force whites and blacks to go back to pretending to like each other, that multiculturalism actually worked and that there was not a race war of apocalyptic proportions brewing everywhere and anywhere in the near future. It was all about maintaining appearances.

All kinds of repercussions followed and accusations were hurled as the authority figures meekly emerged from their bunkers and viewed the sheer scale of the destruction that had taken place. Shame over abandonment of their posts was nowhere to be seen. Nor did any prosecution for failure to perform duties take place.

The air was filled with the smell of smoke for months afterwards but eventually all the embers were extinguished.


People tried to blot the entire thing out in some bizarre fit of collective amnesia. There was a fake quality to the smiles and kisses, though ... the champagne didn't taste the same anymore. Everybody tried to pretend like they had not looked into the eyes of the dragon and seen the horror that is right underneath the everyday appearance of life, forever trying to break through all the tissue paper thin barrier of rules and laws that white people are tricked into thinking is some unshakeable edifice of authority.

Officially there were more than fifty murders, unofficially some said there were more than two hundred murders, mostly unsolved.

I knew in an alternate universe I had been shot dead in a Quik Mart by Benny. I would have been just a short blurb on the obituaries page, security guard, unknown assailant, services to be held on Sunday, blah blah blah. Like the other fifty people listed in the newspaper supplement amongst the victims of the riots.

At night I had the shakes. I sometimes woke up thinking somebody was on the roof trying to burn the house down. I drank a lot of coffee, talked too fast sometimes, looked at people a little too hard when they were talking to me as if I could see their lips moving but couldn't hear the sounds they were making. I had seen something that I was not going to forget about. Nobody would fool me again.

When we went back to eat in Soup Plantation, I kept waiting for the oracle to wander in with the gash in his head and scream they were coming again. I began to believe that "they" were coming all the time.

If my wife asked me what was bothering me, I told her I thought the riots were deja vu. They woke up a memory in me not of something that had already happened before but of something that had yet to happen. I foresaw a riot where the whole world would burn and the smoke would rise again and blot out the sun forever. I began to see the L.A. riots as my wakeup call, as a kind of canary in the coal mines.

There was a madness in human beings that hid itself in this sheep's clothing and tried to pretend it was under control. It wasn't. The riots in Los Angeles had been the tinest symptom of this decay that was spreading everywhere. Like the first time you hear termites in the walls of your house at night and realize that by the time you can physically hear them they have completely eaten away all of the marrow that kept the house standing.

I had made up my mind that the next time the riots began, I would be ready. Even if they lit up the entire planet. I would not be a poor student, God would not have to show me again. That was my resolution.

Trotsky was beaten to death about a month after the riots and his girlfriend was gang raped and then beaten so badly she was permanently disabled. I never found out whether or not this had anything to do with the riots, it was just one more crazy thing in an era of crazy things. It is possible that Trotsky was in some kind of drug buy that went wrong and that it had nothing at all to do with the riots. I never did figure this one out.

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Texas Arcane never recovered mentally from his experience.  He moved away from Los Angeles, but the images still burned in his mind.  The fear never left him.  He finally moved to Australia where I imagine he still lives today.

1 comment:

  1. I lived in an RV at Dockweiller Park on the beach by LAX. Worked as an A/C mechanic at the airport and kept loaded weopons in the RV until the shit was over. El Segundo kept good control of their town through the whole fiasco. Because the idiots burned down their own grocery stores they had to shop in El Segundo. But they sure didn't misbehave while there. Was also there for the Northridge earthquake, what a clusterfuck. Finally bid to another station out of California. Never looked back and never missed the place. The state is so politically fucked up I don't understand why anyone would stay. Indyjones

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