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A collage of images showing the events of the riots, including pedestrians fighting each other, civilians shooting policemen, and flaming cars

The Los Angeles riots was a period of civil disturbances that occurred from 29 April to 4 May 1992 in the city of Los Angeles, California, United States. The riots saw a series lootings, arsons, murders, and assaults by thousands of people in response to the Los Angeles Police Department's brutality and corruption, which included the beating of African-American man Rodney King and the violations of the law committed by C.R.A.S.H. unit leader Frank Tenpenny. In the end, 55 people were killed, 2,000+ wounded, and 11,000+ arrested after the US 1st Marine Division and US 7th Infantry Division were sent in to put down the riots. The riots caused over $1,000,000,000 in property damage, and they led to poor race relations and economic instability in the city.

Background

Frank Tenpenny holding up cash which he stole from Carl Johnson

The Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (C.R.A.S.H.) unit of the Los Angeles Police Department was created by chief Daryl Gates in 1979 to combat the rising gang problem in the city of Los Angeles, which rose with the drug trade. Officer Frank Tenpenny and his lapdog Eddie Pulaski were responsible for racketeering and other travesties, working with some gangs to weaken others; he helped the Ballas in an attempt on Grove Street Families OG Sweet Johnson's life, helped the GSF in ambushing a Russian Mafia arms deal with the Ballas, and helped them in stealing arms from a train that the Vagos were due to meet up with. Tenpenny also had GSF OG Carl Johnson do jobs for him, including assassinating an FBI informant in rural southern California, planting two tons of marijuana in a District Attorney's car trunk, and killing a DEA agent and stealing his FBI dossier. Tenpenny and Pulaski's colleague Jimmy Hernandez was disillusioned by their illegal activities, and he reported their activities to Internal Affairs, which began a probe into their activities. Tenpenny was brought before a court on his return to Los Angeles, while Pulaski was believed to be on the run; he had actually been killed by Carl Johnson after Pulaski had shot Hernandez dead. Tenpenny was tried for racketeering, sexual assault, and other major crimes, but the charges were dropped in a shocking verdict. Shortly after the news was broadcast, people began firing guns and setting fires, and the riots began.

Riots

Policemen holding back rioters as a police car explodes

Riots broke out in the neighborhoods of central and southern Los Angeles, with the wealthy neighborhoods being tranquil. In South-Central L.A., there was anarchy as civilians used fists, knives, and pistols to attack policemen and each other, with people brawling on sidewalks. Police cars were favorite targets for the civilians, and many of them were bombed or attacked by people in the streets. Some policemen were even fired upon, and they had to shoot back at rioters. People stole television sets from houses, which they proceeded to burn down. The riots were too dangerous for the police to deal with, so the US Marine Corps, California National Guard, and US Army were called in by President George H.W. Bush to put down the unrest on Saturday, 2 May 1992. Tenpenny died in a firetruck crash on Grove Street on 4 May 1992, and the Grove Street Families gang killed drug lord Big Smoke and destroyed his crack palace during the riots. Tenpenny's body was stripped and mutilated, and his death led to the end of the riots. By 27 May 1992, the last government troops had left the city, and the riots came to an end.

Aftermath

The Los Angeles riots left 55 people dead and over 2,000 people injured, and the damage to Los Angeles was terrible. Over 11,000 people were arrested for their roles in the riots, which had caused $1,000,000,000 in damage to the city of Los Angeles. Chief of Police Daryl Gates resigned during the riots, and 77% of the people of Los Angeles said that the economic situation had significantly worsened in the eighteen years after the riots. By 2007, the black population had dropped by 123,000, while the Latino population grew by 450,000. However, by 2010 violent crime had dropped by 76%, and 60% of people believed that race relations had healed as gang activity died down.

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