Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I was living in Marina Del Rey on March 3, 1991,when a video tape captured Rodney King, being repeatedly beaten by a group of LAPD officers. More than a year later, on April 29, 1992, all four officers were acquitted when the jury could not reach a verdict. The result sparked outrage about racism across the country, especially in South Central Los Angeles and South East Los Angeles where large groups took to the streets, many shouting "Black justice!" and "No justice, no peace!" Some of these protests and other large gatherings devolved into mob violence and destruction, in what became known as the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

On that day in March Los Angeles changed, as the riots ensured, fires raged,  curfews placed on it's citizens and now the man who started it all is dead. Click here for the sacbee story. Another man who's life also changed that day was Reginald Denny, a construction truck driver, who was beaten nearly to death by a group of assailants who came to be known as the "L.A. Four".

Deny had loaded his red, 18-wheel truck and began driving to a plant in Inglewood where he said the sand was due. He left the Santa Monica Freeway and took a familiar shortcut across Florence Avenue to get to his destination. His truck did not have a radio, so he was unaware that he was driving into a riot. At 6:46 p.m., after entering the intersection at Normandie, rioters threw rocks at his windows and he heard people shouting for him to stop. Overhead, a news helicopter with reporter Bob Tur aboard captured the events that followed.

Denny stopped in the middle of the street. Antoine Miller opened the truck door, giving others the chance to pull Denny out. Another man, Henry Keith Watson, then held Denny's head down with his foot. Denny was kicked in the abdomen by an unidentified man. Two other unidentified men who had led a liquor store break-in earlier that day hurled a five-pound piece of medical equipment at Denny's head and hit him three times with a claw hammer. Damian Williams then threw a slab of concrete at Denny's head and knocked him unconscious.

Denny had nothing to do with the situation, other than being the wrong race. 

I rode my bike to the beach the following day, where I was asked to go home by a National Guard solider who was holding a big gun. It was mid-day and that experience changed me as well.

1 comment:

  1. That was such a sad and crazy time living in LA. Thanks for remembering and for sharing.


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