LA Riots: A look back 30 years later

Thirty years ago, four white Los Angeles Police Department officers were exonerated for the beating of Rodney King. The verdict sparked riots from Apr. 29 through May 4, 1992, across Los Angeles, setting the city on fire.

The officers had been caught beating the unarmed African American motorist by a man who videotaped the arrest, which was broadcasted on television across the U.S.

The verdict acquitted all four officers of any wrongdoing in the arrest.

After the verdict was announced, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley held a news conference, during which he stated, "Today, this jury told the world that what we all saw with our own eyes wasn't a crime. Today, that jury asked us to accept the senseless and brutal beating of a helpless man. Today, that jury said we should tolerate such conduct by those sworn to protect and serve. My friends, I am here to tell this jury, No. No, our eyes did not deceive us. We saw what we saw, what we saw was a crime... We must not endanger the reforms we have achieved by resorting to mindless acts. We must not push back progress by striking back blindly."


Photo of Rodney King beating.

Hours after the verdict protest turned to violence as the LA riots began.

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Across several days of rioting, a total of 64 people were killed, more than 2,300 were injured, thousands were arrested and estimates of property damage were around $1 billion. Over the six days of riots, approximately 3,500 fires were set, more than 1,000 buildings were destroyed, with fire calls coming once every minute at some points. Widespread looting also occurred.