Photos: Los Angeles Riots in 1992 and 20 years later (page 1 of 2)

By Alex A. Alonso Staff Writer
April 29, 2012 | 11:35 a.m. PST
updated: May 1, 2012 | 8:07 p.m.

LOS ANGELES –During the Los Angeles Uprising of 1992 when people were revolting, protesting and expressing the most extreme versions of hate, I took to the streets against my father’s wishes. I was 21 and living at home in the Mid city area of Los Angeles located between the Pico-Union and West Adams communities. Within 2 blocks from my residence, an intersection was ablaze by the evening.

Cell phones were rare and the internet had not taken off, but the primitive forms of communication; the land line and pre-HD television, were enough to get the word out. Shortly after 3:00 p.m., the not guilty verdicts in the trial of four LAPD officers charged with the excessive beating of Rodney King had reached South LA from Simi Valley and immediately people took to the streets.

I was amazed and shocked to see my neighborhood and City on fire and after the first night, I decided to take some photos with my 35 mm Olympus that my mother had given me a few years earlier.

When the sun revealed the devastation from the previous night, I decided to get a few rolls of film. The riots went from an extreme demonstration against the LAPD and the City to an all out looting festival by day two.

I witnessed people from all backgrounds looting groceries, electronics and furniture. Although I could have furnished a house with the best items of the day, my father would have never approved of it and I never even considered joining the crowd.

When I decided to purchase some film, all the local stores were either being looted or on fire. I went into a Thrifty’s drug store that was partially burned the night before. The fire department was able to douse the fires, but looters were throughout the isles looting anything of value while scurrying through puddles of water.

I went straight to the film processing section, and to my surprise the film was left untouched by looters, but many of the Kodak boxes were wet from the fire department’s efforts the night before. I picked a few dry boxes, and began to take some photos.

I revisited the same locations five years later in 1997, and again this week to mark 20 years. This time I shot photos with a Canon 7D high definition SLR camera. Some things have changed while a few vacant lots still remain.

Read a report I published on the RLA non-profit organization that was designed to rebuild the City of Los Angeles within five years.


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1992 1997 2012

The 1800 block of S Western where the entire stip mall was destroyed by fire and looting. There was a cleaners owned by Ethiopians that was completely destroyed with thousands articles of clothing. The McDonalds was not destroyed because it was built separate from the strip mall.

1992 1997 2012

Ace Glass on 58th Street & Western Ave was completely destroyed. For several years it remained a vacant lot and to date, nothing was built in its place. The vacant lot is now a used car lot that services the Hispanic community.

1992 1997 2012

Building on the northeast corner of Victoria & Adams, 1-block west of Crenshaw was completely destroyed. This structure was adjacent to an old theatre that is now a Hispanic church, Iglesia de Restauraccion. The church now uses the previous vacant lot as a parking lot.

1992 1997 2012

76 Unocal gas station on Crenshaw & Adams was completely destroyed along with several cars that were in the garage being repaired. Five years later the corner remained vacant, but eventually 76 Unocal rebuilt the gas station without the mechanic shop.

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Los Angeles Riots - 1997
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 Florence & Normandie    
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Alex Alonso is an author, film maker, founder of, and a criminal trial consultant. He is a contributing author in the book Black Los Angeles: American Dreams Racial Realities (New York University Press). He can be reached via email, toll free at 800-249-1324 or on Twitter.

3 Comments for “Photos: Los Angeles Riots in 1992 and 20 years later (page 1 of 2)”

  1. Irene Shandell


    • John Penner

      Thanks for sharing these. Great pictures showing the resilience of of the human spirit. Hope we never see another travesty of justice and the following mahem like this.

  2. StopTheKilling

    Your photos are great, and thank you for taking your time/talent to show/tell the story.

    Unfortunately, our communities did not win. They lost big time.

    Grandmothers could not even purchase much needed Rx, groceries or anything else unless they went to the other side of town. The community was tore up by mostly people who live in them! They did not go to other (upscale) sections of LA because they were stopped from doing so, however they tore up their own communities, and it took a couple of decades to start re-building again. Frankly, many neighborhoods have not recovered yet and it is 2012.

    This is why I have issues with those who live in these same communities, basically unproductive, uneducated, and kil#i*gg each other over a street/block/area/neighborhood where they or their parent (s) do not own one thing! A black youth will actually ki*l another black youth behind this type of stupid thought process. They own nothing!!!

    It is unfortunate that most of these types will never become educated enough to thoroughly understand that the most harm done they do to themselves.

    Education is the key to freedom!

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