21 years ago today, Los Angeles burned

Twenty-one years ago today, the verdict in the Rodney King case sparked six days of murder, mayhem, rioting and looting in Los Angeles.  53 people died and over 2,000 were injured.  Property damage ran into the billions of dollars.

At first the police went into self-protection mode, refusing to enter the most risky areas.  Residents of those zones were left to their own devices.  Hundreds, if not thousands, who were unable to protect themselves or their property became victims.

Others, better prepared and equipped, did not.  As the Los Angeles Times reported:

In the shadow of a flaming mini-mall near the corner of 5th and Western, behind a barricade of luxury sedans and battered grocery trucks, they built Firebase Koreatown.

Richard Rhee, owner of the supermarket on the corner, had watched as roving bands of looters ransacked and burned Korean-owned businesses on virtually every block.

But here, it would be different.

“Burn this down after 33 years?” asked Rhee, a survivor of the Korean War, the Watts riots and three decades of business in Los Angeles. “They don’t know how hard I’ve worked. This is my market and I’m going to protect it.”

From the rooftop of his supermarket, a group of Koreans armed with shotguns and automatic weapons peered onto the smoky streets. Scores of others, carrying steel pipes, pistols and automatic rifles, paced through the darkened parking lot in anticipation of an assault by looters.

“It’s just like war,” Rhee said, surveying his makeshift command. “I’ll shoot and worry about the law later.”

From tiny liquor stores in South-Central Los Angeles to the upscale boutiques in Mid-Wilshire, Korean store owners have turned their pastel-colored mini-malls into fortresses against the looter’s tide.

. . .

Korean shop owners and their supporters have lashed out at police, saying they have begged for protection from vandals, who have left a swath of Koreatown in ashes. Now, many have decided to fight for themselves.

“Where are the police? Where are the soldiers?” asked John Chu, who was vacationing in Los Angeles when the riots broke out and rushed to help Rhee defend the California Market. “We are not going to lose again. We have no choice but to defend ourselves.”

. . .

Jay Rhee estimated that he and others fired 500 shots into the ground and air. “We have lost our faith in the police,” he said. “Where were you when we needed you.”

There’s more at the link.  Furthermore, if you believe all those 500 shots went ‘into the ground and air’, I have a bridge in New York City to sell you – the casualties among rioters and looters in that area were reportedly heavy.  Here are the Koreans at work.

Today, with the rise (and rise, and rise) of the FSA, the ‘entitlement mentality’ is even worse in inner-city areas throughout the nation than it was twenty-one years ago.  If benefit payments are cut, or the government runs out of money, or some grievance arises that’s similar in its impact to the Rodney King case, expect to see the Los Angeles riots repeated, both there and in other cities.  Now as then, if you aren’t prepared and equipped to defend yourself, your loved ones and your property, you’re going to be neck-deep in the proverbial brown substance.

This is one reason why those on the left are so adamant that ‘civilians’ (meaning ordinary citizens and legal residents like those Koreans) should not have access to what they call ‘assault weapons’.  The simple fact is that military-style rifles are far better suited to ‘repelling boarders’ in a civil unrest or riot situation than are sporting rifles.  Riot shotguns are easier to manipulate (particularly in confined spaces) and carry more ammunition than sporting versions.  Standard-capacity handgun magazines allow one to carry a larger number of rounds in one’s gun, ready for use, than one could in the neutered, reduced-capacity magazines that gun-grabbers want to foist upon us.  If they succeed in their misguided efforts to remove all such weapons from our hands, they’ll render us helpless in the face of mobs like these.  It’s up to us, the law-abiding gun-owners of America, to frustrate their efforts . . . and to put a stop to the next Los Angeles-type riots, if necessary.

Be prepared.  That’s the lesson of Los Angeles in 1992.  Far too few have heeded it.



  1. A very close friend of mine was living in Culver City during the Rodney King riots. He one and only firearm was a .38 S&W, and his total ammunition supply was six cartridges. Right after the smoke cleared he bought more ammo and more guns. Then he bought more ammo, emergency food and water supplies, a gun safe, first aid supplies… well, you get the picture.

    One point of interest was the way that the Culver City Chief of Police handled the situation. The Chief barricaded all entrances to Culver with manned road blocks. If you lived in Culver City or had legitimate business inside, you got clearance to pass along. Otherwise you were turned away. Yeah, yeah, civil rights violations, racial profiling, racism, discrimination and the kicking of old dogs. But you could stand on the corner in Culver and watch the rioting on the other side of the street. If you looked okay, you could pass through – but you had to look okay. Culver didn't get burned and looted, and the chief got reelected.

  2. I was driving a gasoline tanker 6pm to 6am every night of the riots in LA. I never forgot what I saw. I saw complete anarchy. No law enforcement after the first evening. LAPD had, 'pulled back'. I saw law abiding citizens open carrying. I saw Korean business owners standing behind newspaper stacks in front of their stores with guns. I saw, 'civilized' people behaving like animals out of sheer terror. THAT was the biggest shocker; the cutthroat behavior of law abiding, average people in a panic. I expect that behavior from criminals, I was too young/naive to think non-criminals could behave that way.
    Eventually curfews were implemented and I experienced something else I never had; I entered the Harbor freeway and was the only vehicle on it. I felt a little giddy; like I could use the fast lane if I wanted to. Then I came to the sober realization that by being the only thing on the road, my vehicle made a tempting target for anyone who might want to make a statement. On the 3rd night on the way to work I exited the Fwy and thought I was hallucinating when I saw 3 of the largest helicopters I had ever seen, flying in a low, slow formation a few blocks ahead of me.
    They were military of course and with the pall of smoke from fires and the helicopters, I thought of places like Israel that have these scenes on a daily basis.
    That night as I returned to our terminal to reload I saw 3 soldiers standing with rifles on a dark corner of an industrial complex. I felt proud and reassured that they were there and I waved to them. My experiences during that time and observations during Sandy and Katrina and the risk of California earthquakes are the reasons that I am now a gun owner. I saw first hand, what can happen when people are jolted out of their safe existence. It was indeed, every man for himself. Law enforcement was either slow to respond or nonexistent. Thank you for providing videos as reminders of how bad it was.

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