"Hi, my name is Shawn."
She was calling from somewhere in Los Angeles. It was midnight of the first night. The power was out, and everyone was still up.
“I'm actually living a little north of all of this,” she said. “I'm up off of Olympic and I can smell the fires from here."
The DJ, Eric "Rico" Reed, warned in a soft, late-shift baritone: "It's on your way."
The DJs at KJLH didn't have to leave their booth to witness the L.A. riots up close. Twenty years ago, the violence erupted just outside their studio. Their phone lines lit up. A woman called in tears. A father called desperately looking for his teenage son.
Shawn said she was a lawyer and that she had spent some time at First A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles’ Historic West Adams District, where people gathered after the verdict in the Rodney King beating trial. Some 40 miles away in Simi Valley, a nearly all-white jury had acquitted four police officers -- three white and one Hispanic -- who had been caught on film pummeling King, a black man, the previous year after a car chase. The acquittals touched off days of rioting in Los Angeles. More than 60 people were killed and thousands were injured.
"I'm really angry, and I'm really very scared," Shawn confessed to KJLH listeners.
"You know I just spent the last 10 years of my life in college," she explained, her voice growing louder and more frayed. "I went to one of the best law schools in the country -- Hastings up in San Francisco. But it doesn't really matter! Because even with the briefcase in my hand, and the suit on my back, I’m still just another nigger to the cops out there and to the redneck white people."
Shawn seethed, but even in the moment, she sought to clarify, to figure it out on the air. "And not all white people. But there's people who don’t really care who you are and what you're about. And I know that I'm not the only one who feels helpless."
KJLH was a music station, playing rhythm and blues, and classic soul. During the riots, however, the station's management halted its regular format, converted to all-talk and went commercial-free. It received a Peabody award for its coverage.
"We stayed for like three days," explained Carl Nelson, the station's former newsman. "We [slept] in the sales office or on the floor. People started to bring us food. We didn't change clothes or shower. We knew we couldn't leave."
The DJs and staff parked their cars on the sidewalk against the station's building as protection. The DJ booth opened to glass windows facing the wide Crenshaw Boulevard strip. They watched -- and provided anguished on-air play-by-play -- as the crowds looted the nearby liquor store, as men passed by with television sets hoisted on their shoulders, as the National Guard marched passed with weapons at the ready.
Three gas stations were set on fire, and thick smoke draped the sky -- what Brandon Bowlin, part of the KJLH morning crew, describes as "this haze of hate."
While KJLH's DJs took calls, reporters hit the streets, frequently finding that hate turning in their direction. Reporting had to be quick and transactional -- shouting questions through car windows, dictating dispatches into payphones.
Pete Demetriou, a reporter working for KFWB radio at the time, remembers parking a half block from the intersection of Florence and Normandie, and seeing an Asian woman whose face had been cut deeply. "I mean, a gash," he told The Huffington Post. The entire front of her dress and blouse were soaked with blood. Another reporter quickly ferried her to a hospital.
Soon the crowd, Demetriou said, turned on him. "I popped a U," he remembered. "I went over somebody's front lawn down the street. I saw Reginald Denny's semi go through the intersection behind me as I was going over the lawn." The mob dragged Denny, a white truck driver, from the cab of his vehicle.
Twenty-five feet away, Bob Brill reported the horror as it unfolded. He had found a payphone and frantically dialed the NBC radio newsroom, where he worked the story with UPI. "I think I said, 'Shut the fuck up. Roll tape. I've got a full-scale riot here,'" recalls Brill, who now works as a news anchor for KNX. "He was on his knees," he said, recalling how Denny got whacked over the head with what looked like a lawn ornament. His hair was matted with blood. Denny's beating was broadcast live on television from a news helicopter, making him one of the most memorable victims of the riots.
After a Good Samaritan, who was black, helped Denny escape, Brill was hit with a beer bottle on the side of his head. He fell to the ground and was beaten. He suffered a cracked skull, a punctured eardrum and a broken thumb. His glasses were gone and so was his tape recorder. After he stumbled to his car, a man demanded his wallet. Brill gave him a $20 bill. He finally jumped in his car and turned on the engine. A piece of concrete shattered his right-rear window. His windshield and roof were pelted with rocks and beer bottles as he hit the gas.
"It didn't really matter who was there," Brill recalled. "They were just attacking. Nobody was safe. If you were in the intersection, you were a target."
Diane Thompson, who covered the riots as a "morning drive" reporter for KNX, remembered Brill being attacked at the payphone. "Nobody had cellphones. I didn't get a cellphone to carry until much later in 1992. And that was one of those brick-looking things."
Thompson had only one lifeline: "We had shortwave in the car, which we used for reporting, so we could call the desk for help." Not that help would be quick in coming.
Thompson teamed up with another female reporter from a rival station. "It was good to be with another person," she recalled. "You felt safer." Neither Thompson nor her colleague were given a specific assignment. “It was just get out there. That's what we did for the next seven hours, just drove through south Los Angeles. The whole time, we’re just on high alert. If we were a terror alert, we were red. ... We were in red mode."
On April 30, Mayor Tom Bradley imposed a dusk-till-dawn curfew in an attempt to control the violence. “I had a colleague who was so worried about the curfew that he taped the word 'News' to the side of the car, because he thought he'd be pulled over by the police." Thompson said. "There he was, in this beat-up car, driving around like that. I figured that if I got pulled over, I'd just show my credentials."
Thompson went on: "There was so much tension in the air. As the sun came up, people went out again, lighting fires. That's what I saw mostly, fires everywhere.”
Just outside KJLH, men backed into Sun Appliances' front door with a tow truck. The program manager ran out of the booth to save the store's owner from harm. A huge chunk of the Crenshaw Square shopping complex later burned to the ground. On the last day, even the hat store, which had survived the fire and had become a place the DJs monitored religiously, got looted.
But KJLH offered a more ruminative counterpoint to the blare of news and police helicopters, the drive-by scenes of fires and angry mobs. It captured a deeper narrative that was about more than just stolen television sets. The DJs spoke with looters fresh off a spree and to citizens who were brave enough to confront them. Some callers vented their frustrations, some waxed philosophical. A few needed to be talked out of doing things they’d regret. Mostly, they just wanted someone to talk to.
Nelson can't bring himself to listen to the tapes of those old broadcasts. He's never heard them since the riots; it's just too much. But one call, he said, still stands out 20 years later: Shawn, on the line from Olympic.
"You could feel it in her voice how hurt she was," he said. "I remember that call … that pain in her voice. I don't need to hear that anymore."
Below are two hour-long KJLH recordings from April 30 and May 1, provided exclusively to The Huffington Post, along with complete transcripts with embedded audio excerpts, and photos taken by Bowlin from the scene outside the station. Both recordings appear to begin at midnight.
The transcripts have been edited slightly for clarity. Common spellings were used for the names of callers. You can listen to the full audio recording below:
APRIL 30, 1992, Midnight.DJ ERIC "RICO" REED: 1023 KJLH Compton, Los Angeles. A special edition of Front Page and we’re talking about what’s going on right now – the aftermath of the King trial verdict and I’m just, excuse me, I’m just caught up in the emotion there’s so much stuff going on right outside the window.
BRANDON BOWLIN: I think we ...
REED: It doesn’t even need to be described. I think we may be adding to it by telling people what’s going on.
BOWLIN: Once again, we want to caution everyone that the AMPM up the street – I believe it’s on Washington and Crenshaw.
REED: No. It’s on Crenshaw and Jefferson, Crenshaw and Rodeo. The Shell Station are on fire.
BOWLIN: They’re on fire.
REED: Sears is now on fire in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
BOWLIN: Drive clear of those two service stations please.
CARL NELSON: Yeah, cause they might explode.
BOWLIN: The whole block you should just circumvent and take an alternate, ulterior course.
NELSON: Just another reminder if you’re out there trying to do these things that the National Guard will be here within two hours.
REED: Or less.
BOWLIN: And nobody knows, nobody knows where they’re coming from … Hey, when they come in, they come in with a bang, brothers and sisters so you better be careful out there.
(Photo credit: Brandon Bowlin / thedarkroome.com)
REED: All right. Let’s go back to the phone lines. KJLH, good evening. You’re on a special edition of Front Page. What is your name and where are you calling from? Hello?
CALLER: Wanda. Hello?
REED: Hi Wanda. Go ahead.
CALLER: I wanted the number for school closings.
REED: The school closings, OK. What school are you concerned about?
REED: I’m sure USC will be closed. It’s not on the list but....
BOWLIN: Carl, do you have anymore information on what’s going on on Westwood?
NELSON: Only the fact that when they started to riot, the riot cops showed up.
BOWLIN: Right away.
BOWLIN: So we don’t know how far spread – this may go all the way to Westwood. It’s already there.
NELSON: Well, it’s already in Westwood but the cops already put it down....
REED: KJLH, hello, good evening you’re on Front Page. What is your name and where are you calling from?
CALLER: Hi, my name is Lisa. I’m calling from Compton.
REED: Hi Lisa.
CALLER: Hi. I just have one quick – actually a couple quick comments. The first thing is history. You think from ’65 to ’92 we would have learned from history of what happens with riots.... They burned down the ABC Market. They burned down the Sears down there. They burned down all those other places. And it wasn’t just black people. It was white people coming in to our community helping us loot, helping us burn down things. When they went back to their community and they had buildings. And here we are today, we just got the stuff built up. And here we are on the news. And it’s not just black people, it’s white people, it’s Mexicans. And they’re burning the stuff down … We’re going to start right back over.
REED: All over again.
CALLER: ... This is not revolution. This is unorganized confusion.
REED: That’s exactly what it is. No it’s not a revolution. It’s just people driving down the street saying, ‘You think we should go in there? Yeah, yeah why not? Nobody’s looking. They’re going in, so let’s go in.’
REED: It’s the blind leading the blind.
CALLER: And instead of just saying ‘OK, I feel for Rodney King.’ They’re sitting there jumping in front of the camera, you know.
CALLER: Smiling. Taking, taking mug shots and running off with TV sets. [Who] are they hurting? [They’re] hurting us. They’re making us look bad.
NELSON: That’s exactly right. They’re making Chief Gates look very good tonight.
BOWLIN: Right ….
NELSON: OK. We have a firefighter on the line – Harold Johnson.
REED: Harold – you with us?
CALLER: Yeah, I’m right here with you.
REED: OK, go right ahead. Thank you for calling us back, Harold .... OK. Go right ahead, Harold what’s going on?
CALLER: Well I’m at home currently. Jackie called me and told me to call in and try to give you guys an idea of actually some of the problems that are going on out in the field. I spoke earlier with our, one of my buddies who works in our public information office and they’re currently at a fire on Crenshaw and Slauson. At that time they stated that they were having problems with hydrants being blocked and bottles being thrown at them. There’s a water shortage because of the major tax to the fire system. Actually we are also working with Los Angeles City in a mutual aid type of situation where county fire engines and fire representatives from surrounding areas are now going into areas that they currently wouldn’t – just to try to handle some of the bulk of the work that’s going on out there.
NELSON: OK, Harold. We understand you’re very, very busy tonight. And thanks again for speaking with us on Front Page.
CALLER: No problem.
REED: We appreciate the call. Thank you.
NELSON: Rico, First A.M.E. Church, you know, where they had that rally tonight?
NELSON: Hundreds of people went over there and then they found they couldn’t go home because of what’s happening in the streets.
REED: Of course, not. Can’t get back in their own communities.
NELSON: So they’re camping out at A.M.E. At First A.M.E. Church.
REED: Is it safe over there?
NELSON: At First A.M.E. Church? Yeah it’s fairly safe I should say...
REED: Is it near that Florence, Normandie area?
NELSON: No, no -- that’s down on 79th. The American Red Cross is attempting at this time to get into that area and provide the people with items so they can get through the night. They’re going to set them up with cots and stuff like that.
Some 5,000 South Central residents are now said to be without electrical power. We don’t know if that was by the fire or if they turned off the juice. Stores at La Brea and Rodeo including the Foot Locker shoe store, and the Warehouse record store have been set on fire and has the Thrifty drug store across the street from those stores. They’re also on fire...
REED: Yes, you are?
CALLER: I’m Lee Ann.
REED: All right, Lee Ann, go right ahead.
CALLER: OK. I’ve, oh God, on [unintelligible], and what I’m really appalled about is that they’re burning down the AMPM and that they forget that we live, people live behind the AMPM.
REED: Thank you.
CALLER: Trying to burn us down with it, OK? And also we were standing outside and people are outside shooting. Have they forgotten that we have babies here? We have children. Have they forgotten about the two little babies that got killed by crossfire shootings?
REED: I don’t know. It seems like all that’s gone out the window. We’re looking at the police right now pulling up. There’s about 50 people right across the street running inside looting a store. The police are pulling up with lights but that’s all they’re doing.
BOWLIN: Is the AMPM still burning?
CALLER: No. I mean they just. That was like the first building. The AMPM was the first one that they – the fire department – came to stop …
NELSON: We’ve got to cut away now to Governor Pete Wilson. He’s making a special announcement. Thank you for calling.
GOV. WILSON: There will be as many as 750 California Highway Patrolmen made available. The key purpose is to try to seal off the area and try and keep people, motorists from entering the area. They will also be able to -- by their containment of it -- assist the law enforcement personnel from LAPD and from the sheriff’s office in seeking to contain the area and ultimately to shrink it down. The problem with the fires obviously has been that in order to fight the fires, the firefighting crews have required protection themselves. We’ve had a couple of firemen shot this evening that we know about. Having said that, additionally we have made available some 2,000 National Guardsmen. They are on standby, prepared to move. Transport has been arranged so that additional guardsmen and CHP… In short, we have sought to provide the local authorities with the reinforcements necessary for them to contain this rioting and looting.
I join with Mayor Bradley and the leaders in particular of the black community who have urged the people of Los Angeles to remain calm. Clearly the rioters are ignoring that. The bitter irony of course is that the injury that is being done to South Central Los Angeles will be hurtful to the residents of that area. It is our hope that people will not be injured by the actions of what are apparently comparative few....
Mayor Bradley has indicated that he either will impose a curfew or has by this time done so. I think his appeal is well taken. I hope that it’s heeded. There is no good that is being done by the actions …They will not assist Mr. King …
REED: OK. That’s Governor Pete Wilson on the line here on 102.3 KJLH. It’s 12:14. We’ve got a special edition of Front Page discussing the aftermath from the Rodney King verdict today in the Rodney King trial. Carl you had something you wanted to add to that?
NELSON: Yeah, I just want to say that those of you who are concerned about the school systems – which schools are going to be open, you can give us a call here at KJLH. We’ll let you know if your school’s going to be open. But most of the schools in the South Central area are going to be closed...
REED: Let’s go back to the phone lines -- KJLH , thank you for bearing with us. You’re on the special edition of Front Page. What is your name, where are you calling from?
CALLER: Yes, my name is Jarrel. I’m calling from Inglewood. The issue and the problem that we having right now you know it was unjustified what happened today in this case. But what I’m seeing right now, we are actually replaying what happened when Martin Luther King was here and the Watts Riots. Maybe this is being done for a reason—so your public officials will pay attention to what the people want now. I mean we want respect. We don’t want the police beating on us. We want peace. We want things to be done right around here. I think this is happening for a reason. I hope people don’t [get] hurt out there. I mean we had a couple of deaths and injuries.
REED: I’m looking at people yanking TVs and stuff out of stores with no regard for the glass on the ground or anything. They’re just handing things off. People are seriously getting injured looting. People are ending up in emergency rooms with cuts from glass and other things.
NELSON: The sad part about those fellows too -- those are used, old TVs.
REED: And they don’t work.
REED: They don’t even work. Man, they just be stealing them to be stealing them. It makes no sense.
CALLER: Well I hope that the people would take the public officials, the government, and the people on the city council and the courts and the police department look at this and say, ‘Hey, these people they are taking this very seriously. They are not taking this lying down.’ It’s like I said before it was and … Maybe the tables should turn right now.
REED: Well, I agree with you. I don’t agree with the verdict at all. I really thought that there would be at least one guilty. To me, Powell was guilty. I thought Powell was definitely going to be found guilty and get some time.
CALLER: Well, I’m not one to judge. I’m a Christian so I put that in the hands of the lawmakers.
REED: I just went by what I saw just like everyone else. And not only in Los Angeles but across the country, around the world, everyone was appalled by the Holliday video.
CALLER: Well I agree with that. That’s why I said was unjustified.
REED: Of course, but personally I don’t see what tearing up the streets and stealing and robbing from a lot of African businesses and other businesses in the community has to do with it. What is that going to prove?
CALLER: What did it prove in the Watts Riot? …
REED: Thank you for your call. We appreciate your time. 12:18, 18 minutes after midnight. It’s a new day, but the same thing is going on and we’ll try to give it to you as we see it. Good evening, you’re on Front Page. What is your name and where are you calling from?
CALLER: Hi, my name is Shawn. I’m calling from Los Angeles.
REED: Yes, Shawn.
CALLER: I’m actually living a little north of all of this. I’m up off of Olympic and I can smell the fires from here.
REED: It’s on your way.
CALLER: And I gotta tell you I went to the church at A.M.E. today because I’m really angry and I’m really very scared. You know I just spent the last 10 years of my life in college. I went to one of the best law schools in the country -- Hastings up in San Francisco. But it doesn’t really matter! Because even with the briefcase in my hand and the suit on my back, I’m still just another nigger to the cops out there and to the redneck white people -- and not all white people. But there’s people who don’t really care who you are and what you’re about. And I know that I’m not the only one who feels helpless.
But I can say that you know we do have something that we can do. We can look inside of ourselves -- not at just our neighborhoods. When I drive down the street at 9 o’clock at night and I see a 12-year-old-child out there riding around on their bicycle, there is something very seriously wrong. That child should be at home, not sitting in front of the television, but sitting in front of the parents with conversation happening or sitting at the kitchen table doing their homework so that they can get into colleges on their merits and not on affirmative action. And believe me, I’m not downing affirmative action. I went to Hastings on affirmative action.
But what I’m saying is we need to get ourselves together as a community because when we have our own stuff together the cops will not have an excuse to come into our neighborhoods and bust heads together. When Asians come here, we want to scream about how they’re buying up all the businesses and they’re buying up all the houses. Instead of hating them for what they’re doing, we need to be asking some pertinent questions.
NELSON: Hold on a second, let me ask you a question. As an attorney how do you feel about the justice system after what happened today?
CALLER: I am ashamed to be part of it. Absolutely ashamed to be part of it. Because they say that Rodney King has not lost his civil suit this that and the other. But you know what? There’s a thing called issue preclusion. And what’s probably going to wind up happening is that they’re going to take this civil case to court and the four cops are going to say, 'Listen, our culpability was litigated in an earlier case.’ They’re not even gonna litigate the issue on whether they were culpable for what they did. Therefore, he’s gonna lose.
NELSON: You think he’s gonna lose in the civil trial?
CALLER: Of course he’s gonna lose in the civil trial. He lost in the criminal trial! … They may try to come from a violating-his-civil-rights standpoint, but I mean come on. It’s not gonna happen. It’s just not going to happen!
And to this gentleman -- I’ll call him -- that says there’s a revolution happening: A revolution happens if we’re fighting the enemy. We’re out there tonight fighting each other! White people coming into our neighborhoods, burning up our stores! You know we just got that Crenshaw Mall put in there. And they’re burning Sears?
CALLER: It’s ridiculous! Stop it people! Stop it! We’ve got to be together!
REED: I agree. Thank you very much for your call this morning. As you can see, there are a lot of people that feel the way we do.
NELSON: Hard feelings.
REED: I mean, God, right here. KJLH, hi. You’re on the special edition of Front Page. What is your name and where you calling from?
CALLER: I’m Wade and I’m calling from Torrance.
REED: K, Wade. Go right ahead.
CALLER: It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s heartbreaking to me to see what’s going on. It seems to me that there’s some sort of master plan here because they’re watching, like you were saying, they’re watching them burn. They’re not doing anything about it. Or burning down these businesses and not doing anything about it. What is the plan for the police department in this area? I mean we have to go back and look. We have to go back and make changes. Why is it that in a black neighborhood, most of the cops are white, most of the firefighters are white, most of the city workers are white? I mean if we can not see as a people that there is a plan long before this riot. They knew there was gonna be a riot. They knew that there was going to be an acquittal. They could have had some sort of force here before anything happened. But they want us to destroy each other. They want us to destroy our communities. We as a people must realize that we are alone.
DJ JACQUIE STEPHENS: Wade, may I ask you how are conditions out in Torrance?
CALLER: I live in an apartment and I can hear them laughing next door. Laughing at people out there burning each other down. These are white people.
CALLER: They’re laughing at us.
STEPHENS: And that’s a scenario that’s probably much too common. We are being viewed in a very --
CALLER: Negative way.
STEPHENS: Negative manner.
REED: Thank you very much for your call Wade. 12:24 -- 24 minutes after midnight. It’s a brand new day, but the same thing is going on. This is a special edition of Front Page. We’re trying to give you an outlet, a way to vent your frustrations and your feelings over the radio instead of going out and looting in the streets. Above all, I don’t know if we can emphasize this enough: Please stay out of the streets.
(Photo credit: Brandon Bowlin / thedarkroome.com)
NELSON: And keep you updated on what’s going on around you so you don’t need to go out in the streets.
REED: We’ll let you know. We just received some information -- if you have an emergency, a dire emergency, you can dial 911 … The 911 number is flooded with calls right now. If it is just a dire emergency dial 911. If not, there are some people that need to get through and we’re tying up the phones.
STEPHENS: They say for 411 as well...
REED: Let’s go back to the phone lines. KJLH, good evening, good morning I guess now. You’re on the special edition of Front Page. What is your name and where you calling from?
CALLER: I’m Vanessa from Los Angeles.
REED: Yes, Vanessa.
CALLER: Yeah. What I have to say is that I’m really sorry about how they started all this stuff in our neighborhood … This thing started in Simi Valley and those people are in their houses now. They are comfortable watching the T.V…
REED: I wonder how they feel -- the jurors. I wonder how they feel watching television.
NELSON: They never spoke at all to the press. That was their option and they used it. We really don’t know how they felt about the whole thing.
CALLER: I think this was a master plan. They knew. They probably figured. They didn’t want a black man to get $56 million. And they know this case would have something to do with the civil case. The verdict on this case has a lot to do with the civil case and how the outcome is gonna be.
CALLER: That’s how I feel about it. And they feel that he shouldn’t come into all this money so.
REED: Won’t give it to him.
REED: It’s 12:27 -- 27 minutes after 12 o’clock. Let’s play some music with a message right now. Take a listen. This is what we got to learn to do. Looting and robbing, I mean tearing up your own backyard -- you got to learn to respect yourself before others will respect you.
['Respect Yourself' by the Staple Singers.]
REED: ...The National Guard is on the way. The governor and the mayor have declared a state of emergency. If for any reason you have to go out on the streets, please re-evaluate your decision. It’s best to stay inside. Really. I mean all the news and information you need we’ll give it to you over the radio. We’ll give you an opportunity to talk … It’s wild outside. People do not have your safety and your best interest to heart...
KJLH, good morning, you are on the special edition of Front Page. What is your name and where are you calling from?
CALLER: My name is Tikesha and I’m calling from Los Angeles.
REED: OK, go right ahead.
CALLER: I just want to say I can’t understand all this. I mean those people in Simi Valley are sitting there laughing at us. We’re destroying our own neighborhoods and we think we’re sending them a message and we’re really not. And if we want to we should start voting. I mean I’m 16 and I wish I could go out and vote.
REED: I’m glad to hear you say that. Two -- just a couple years away. We got to get out and vote. Register to vote. You have until May the fourth which is Monday to register and vote. That’s how you make a difference.
CALLER: It is. It just doesn’t make any sense...
NELSON: You know what’s sort of interesting too -- that that store there, they’re still looting the store across here.
REED: The same liquor store.
NELSON: The liquor store and the TV store.
REED: How much stuff is in there?
NELSON: Repair store. These are African Americans who brought their TVs in to get repaired.
STEPHENS: An African American business.
NELSON: And it’s being ripped off by fellow African Americans, you know what I’m saying? It just does not make sense.
REED: I’m almost afraid to say it but there is a store across the street we’re all looking at -- I won’t name it because they may try and get it -- no one has gone in it yet and it is an African American business. All right, let’s go back to the phones. KJLH, good morning. You’re on the special edition of Front Page. What is your name and where are you calling from?
CALLER: My name is Marcus and I’m calling from LA.
REED: Yes, Marcus.
CALLER: I think the theme for the night is: Do you know where your kids are?
REED: Very, very good point.
CALLER: Because I have an 18-year-old son and I have a 13-year-old son and dare either one of them to walk out this door, to even get involved with any of this.
REED: Are you out of the area?
CALLER: No. I had to come back to see if we still had a home to come to.
REED: Is everything OK?
CALLER: Everything’s fine. We still have a few fires still going, but she had some questions like why do white people hate blacks and all this. And I’m having a hard time dealing with it.
REED: Yeah. It’s a touchy situation because it’s not an all-hate-all. It’s a situation where you have to single out certain things and certain individuals.
CALLER: Exactly. But I think she’s having a hard time trying to understand that. I mean things are kind of black and white for her right now.
REED: I know you’re going to do your best. Um, did the fire department ever show up over there?
CALLER: They came eventually. I mean they came through once before and I think some shots were fired at
REED: I think ... A fireman got shot in the face, yeah.
CALLER: Well, they kept going. They kept going after the shots were fired, so I mean the building was totally burned.
STEPHENS: And that’s the normal procedure there. They’re told if it is too dangerous for them to continue on.
CALLER: Well, I understood that. I understood. I mean nobody’s gonna go and try and fight a fire with gunshots, you know, flying at them. But it’s just so terrible.
REED: Well, I’m glad your home is all right and thank you for the call this morning.
STEPHENS: Council member Rita Walters asked a question today: What do we tell our children? It’s tough times for kids. Possibly what we need now as they do at schools when something traumatic happens they get psychologists, psychiatrists in to come in and talk with the kids and help them.
REED: That’s a good point.
STEPHENS: Vent their fears, frustrations.
REED: I think Ti-rone had something you wanted to share with us. Go right ahead, Ti-rone.
BRAD SANDERS aka TI-RONE: Yes. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to weep and time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together. A time to embrace, a time to refrain from embracing. A time to get and a time to lose. A time to keep and a time to cast away. A time to rend and a time to sow. A time to keep silence and a time to speak. A time love and a time to hate. A time to war. And a time of peace. Peace.
REED: All right, thank you Ti-rone for the words of peace from the Bible -- Ecclesiastes 3.
REED: All right, thank you very much. 520-KJLH, 977-KJLH. We’re still taking calls. Special edition of the Front Page. We’re going to stay on as long as we can and keep giving you this avenue of I guess a way to vent your frustrations and feelings, your emotions. And we’re trying to be here for you.
STEPHENS: It helps to talk about it.
REED: Yeah, it sure does. Good morning, you’re on Front Page. What is your name and where are you calling from?
CALLER: Hi, I’m Tammy Newson and I live in Inglewood. I really wanted to comment on this. It’s amazing. I’m outraged by the verdict. I notice that us as a people, we’ve learned to compromise our life -- most of our lives. As a matter of fact, I remember … growing up I was always told I had two strikes against me -- I was black and a woman. And today, I realized that even though I’ve built myself up as a woman and I’ve had certain rights given to me and I’ve earned. Now you know since this incident it really makes me question -- have I just, is it all in vain? I mean it’s really sad. It really is. I hope that this can bring us together as a people and make us realize that we need to open up to each other. Driving home today, I realized seeing people you know before when I would drive down the street -- get a glance or whatever. Today, people actually looked at you and you knew that they knew.
CALLER: You know?
REED: They knew what was going on in your head.
CALLER: Yeah. And I just hope to God that this is going to bring out the Singletons, the special people, the people who have it going as far as getting the message out.
REED: We have to grow from this. We really do. Thank you for your call this morning. I mean they say out of everything bad comes something good. So I don’t know J., what do you think we can draw out of this?
J. ANTHONY BROWN: It’s really sad. We drove up Crenshaw all the way as far as we could go to the what’s the 10 and
REED: Santa Monica Freeway?
BROWN: Santa Monica Freeway -- yeah. They’re looting black businesses, you know, the record store.
REED: Oh, Tempo Records
BROWN: Yeah Tempo Records is empty. I mean it’s like you would think there was a sale going on.
REED: Another black business...
SANDERS: And what happens when jobs are lost? The whole community suffers and then drugs and alcoholism go on the rise …
[Prior to the riots, tension had been building in the city for some time. Labor data showed spikes in unemployment among males in Southeast Los Angeles and other marginalized communities. Violence and loss had become all too routine. By the end of the year, the county coroner's office recorded 2,589 homicides -- a record.]
J.J. JOHNSON: This is 102.3 KJLH Compton, Los Angeles, and the Front Page continues. It’s a very, very special edition of the Front Page for obvious reasons. If you live in Los Angeles, you gotta know what’s going on. It’s really, really, really a heavy-duty thing. This is J.J. Johnson. Chris Lewis is standing by in here with me. I guess you're going to be here til you leave.
LEWIS: Yeah, you got to drag me out of here, man.
JOHNSON: Whenever that is.
LEWIS: It’s too much. It’s unbelievable.
JOHNSON: I was telling some people I guess I’m a little naïve. I kind of thought that this wasn’t going to
LEWIS: I was hoping it wouldn’t happen.
JOHNSON: Yeah. Well, I got some people on the line to comment on this. Sir, are you on the line?
CALLER: Yes I am.
JOHNSON: How are you this evening?
CALLER: Oh, I’m doing good and how bout you J.J.?
JOHNSON: Things are uh, it’s tense up in here. We’re looking across the street. Right across the street from the studios and it’s, it’s pretty intense.
CALLER: I can imagine. I’m sitting here giving myself a self-inflicted media blitz. I got my stereo on. I got the TV. I’m watching and hearing and you know I’m just, just trying to take it all in. What I’d like to say first off is I rally appreciate the positive leadership within this city and this community -- the ministers, the civic leaders. Of course, KJLH and the Front Page to give us this forum to get these thoughts out of our heads and into somewhere it can do some good.
JOHNSON: Well, that’s our gig. That’s our gig. We’re you surprised at all at the turn of events?
CALLER: You know, this isn’t a religious type show where I’m going to call in and give a confession, but I feel like I should. Beause this entire day I’ve been on like an emotional roller coaster. The things that have been happening lately in the news -- you know, the gang summit not to long ago, of course, Latasha Harlins and that whole situation.
[Thirteen days after King was beaten, 15-year-old Harlins was shot in the back of the head in a dispute with Korean grocer Soon Ja Du. Soon accused Harlins of stealing a bottle of orange juice. A security video of the incident showed Harlins approached the counter with money in hand. After a brief scuffle, Harlins put the juice on the counter and tried to leave when Soon shot and killed her. Soon ended up getting only five years probation and community service for the killing.]
And even I watched a car chase on TV and it was really bizarre because they had helicopter coverage showing the whole thing and this man -- I don’t know if you remember it or not -- but he led the police on this really wild chase from some other community and he ended up somewhere near Northridge. And it finally ended by cop cars ramming his car into a fence.
JOHNSON: Now was this as you perceive it was this related to what’s going on here?
CALLER: In a way because the way that they handled him – they had the cameras you know watching the whole thing -- and what they did was this man was not cooperative at all. He was belligerent, he was hollering even after they somehow handcuffed him and were putting him in the car. But the thing that stuck out of my mind was was I saw one of the emergency personnel put his hand on his back like to comfort him as they were putting him in the back of the car.
CALLER: And you know looking at that as opposed to how they treated brother King and different things like that and the emotional rollercoaster that I was on was because you know I got three girls between 5 and 12.
CALLER: And they’re watching all of this. You know my wife and I we’re trying to get through this.
JOHNSON: How are they reacting?
CALLER: That’s the thing. ...They’re taking this in. My kids -- I try to get them to be where they’re analytical, think things out before the act. And so they’re asking me a whole bunch of questions that you know I got to come up with some answers with. And they’re asking me, ‘Well, why is this happening?’ And they’re drawing their own conclusions even at that young age.
CALLER: So the things that I’m having to deal with is I’ve got to calm down. Here’s the confession part – you know -- when the verdict came down I was so furious at the way it went down even though I knew deep down inside that it was going to go down like that -- something just told me it was. I was furious and I wanted to do something. I was, I was just going crazy. And so when I started seeing you know the TV coverage of what was going down in the intersection there, you know I started having all these mixed emotions. First I was a victim of TV like I was cheering for some football game. You know I said, ‘Yeah, all right.’ You know? And then I started calming down, I said, ‘Well wait a minute.’ You know? And as the day progressed then clearer thoughts started coming through. I said, ‘Well wait a minute.’ I said this is the same thing that went on 27 years ago.
(Photo credit: Brandon Bowlin / thedarkroome.com)
JOHNSON: We’re you here at that time?
CALLER: Yeah, I was living in San Bernardino at that time. I was aware of it but it wasn’t touching me as closely as it is now.
JOHNSON: I see.
CALLER: You know I had family up there and all. But the statement was made earlier that you know we didn’t learn from that. And I agree with that to a point. We didn’t learn because we repeated the same thing but then the system hasn’t learned either because it hasn’t changed no more than our response to it has changed.
JOHNSON: Listen, I hate to I hate to cut you short but I got to go on to some other calls and we have information pouring in and we’ve got to, we’ve got to relay this. But I thank you very much for your call.
CALLER: All right and thank you.
JOHNSON: All right thank you very much. Talk to you soon I hope. Apparently, National Guard members are arriving at armories as we speak. Curfew has been imposed going from dusk to dawn. According to Chief Gates, there are no exceptions be it a work destination or whatever. It’s gonna be interesting getting back and forth from KJLH to home.
NELSON: Especially if you take the bus too.
JOHNSON: Oh boy.
BOWLIN: What bus?...
JOHNSON: My understanding before I came here tonight was that they'd cut that off for the whole city.
BOWLIN: Right, right … They had cut it off mid point, in mid point when this all started because for the safety of their drivers and so on and so forth. And some people were actually left at the bus stop waiting. We went down the street -- there was still some people waiting for the bus.
BOWLIN: And you know the bizarre thing is that they’ve kept this traffic, normal traffic has kept coming down Crenshaw through the entire broadcast that we’ve been talking. Normal traffic.
JOHNSON: Well, yeah I had absolutely no trouble getting here.
BOWLIN: Right. And it’s bizarre. You see these people driving you know they’re going to wherever and all this stuff is happening around them. They haven’t cut off any of the major thoroughfares -- nothing.
BOWLIN: That’s how people can get fooled. And that’s the situation that we’re in right now...
JOHNSON: Six -- count 'em -- six fires are reported to be underway in the Westwood area. Now there's a surprise.
JOHNSON: Woh. And in South LA, electric power is out in various areas and problem with phone service continues. Now as far as phone service goes, stay off of 911 if you possibly can unless it’s an absolute dire emergency. Good idea probably to stay off the phone. It took me awhile to get through to KJLH earlier this evening to see what was going on.
NELSON: Also 411 is another problem. They don’t want you to call.
JOHNSON: OK. OK.
NELSON: We talked about out in Westwood and what is interesting there is that the riot police turned out real quick to try to put a damper on that. Whereas in South LA when that was going on they were nowhere in sight.
BOWLIN: There’s a strategy going on here. A definite strategy.
NELSON: I think we have a caller on the line.
JOHNSON: Yeah, let’s, let’s check him out. Hello, sir?
JOHNSON: You’re on right now on KJLH. What’s on your mind?
CALLER: All I can say is you know it’s just unbelievable what’s happening, you know? My name is Mark … I’m a 27-year-old black male. I’m married -- been married five years. Have a beautiful wife. And I just couldn’t believe what happened you know as I was getting off work today. I was coming home and just couldn’t believe it you know?
JOHNSON: Overwhelming isn’t it?
NELSON: Before you go any further what sort of did you in? Was it the verdict or the violence?
CALLER: Well, no it really wasn’t the verdict. I mean you know I knew I expected that from the verdict. It was just the violence of what was going on because I live in a pretty nice residential area. I live in Inglewood on the Avenues and as I was coming home, I needed to stop by the store and right before I got to the store there’s a Foot Locker on Manchester …. [A looter] was coming up to my car you know saying ‘Here, have a pair of shoes on me.’ And I just did a complete U-turn and said I’m getting home, I’m going home.
BOWLIN: Right. You know right up the street at Patrini Shoes up here they’re coming out with bundles, satchels. I mean they’re all over the place. They’re spread all over the ground, everywhere.
NELSON: They are stealing mail trucks, fire trucks, delivery trucks. I mean whatever goes out some of it doesn’t come back. I mean there’s a fire truck missing right now.
JOHNSON: A fire truck.
NELSON: A fire truck. A fire truck has been stolen. About two or three mail trucks just drove up the street with like 15 or 16 people in it. You know nobody’s delivering the mail this time of night …
CALLER: Young blacks like myself could tell these other brothers that gang banging or you know it doesn’t even make sense what they’re fighting over. I mean some people tell me turf. But I just can’t understand it … When I was at work today, you know I’m a hairstylist, and this guy -- from Take 6 -- came in, go this hair done today and he had a white male friend with him today. Ah man, you should have seen this guy. This guy was so scared to come in the beauty salon that you know he hid in the corner. I was like, ‘Hey man, you don’t have to worry about that going on here cause it’s right around the corner from Inglewood police station and if anything happened you're in safe hands. But I’m just going to let you know that there’s nothing going to happen here.’
JOHNSON: Well, listen thank you very much for calling. We got -- our lines are jumping off the hook and we got to move along and give a few other people a chance to express themselves but thank you very much.
CALLER: All right.
JOHNSON: All right. I was looking. Well, this is as of 11:30. Wow. This is as of 11:30 tonight -- three known dead. One from gunshot wounds. One from falling out of a car. I’m not quite sure about the other one. I think by now everyone knows about the truck driver who was pulled from his rig at Florence and Normandie – that was hours ago.
NELSON: He was killed?
JOHNSON: Excuse me?
NELSON: He was killed? This guy was killed?
JOHNSON: I’m not sure if the truck driver is one of the three or not. It’s not specific about that.
BOWLIN: He was in. He was having an operation about an hour ago.
JOHNSON: As of 11:30, he was yeah, that’s for sure.
JOHNSON: A firefighter was shot in the face. He was also in surgery as of 11:30. I don’t know what his situation is right now. And Daniel Freeman Hospital in Inglewood reported that its emergency room was overloaded which is of absolutely no surprise.
NELSON: Well you know what, J.J.? A lot of people going in there with cuts and glass cuts and stuff like that.
BROWN: From breaking windows and stuff like that.
NELSON: Right, from breaking windows.
JOHNSON: Ah, man. Let’s hit the phones again. Hello?
CALLER: How you doing?
JOHNSON: Fine, how are you?
CALLER: All right. All right.
JOHNSON: You’re on the air.
CALLER: OK. Hey, my name is Alan. I’m calling from Compton.
JOHNSON: Hm -- Hmm.
CALLER: You know I was just calling to report a couple of things. They’ve been having you know fires and stuff like that out here. They had a fire -- Foot Locker on the corner Central and Rosecrans burnt down to the ground, everything gone. And it was another fire on the corner of Central and Compton Boulevard where some people got trapped inside the building as it was burning.
JOHNSON: Oh, man.
CALLER: Yeah, so you know there was a lady who was looking for her son. And another guy -- that you know it’s unconfirmed -- but they say the guy got trapped in the building as it was burning down. And they had another fire. They burned the Legal Aid building -- you know we need that in our community.
JOHNSON: Don’t we.
CALLER: The legal aid building burnt down to the ground. So you know I think it’s sad, really sad that things that is going on out there -- especially when people are killing their own people and they get trapped in a burning building.
BOWLIN: One thing we can get off of is talking about our own, this own, that own. OK? It’s people hurting people, harming people, harming businesses that can only do nothing but help you. You know what I’m saying? And we took a ride up the street and it’s just a shame. There was some businesses that I go to a great deal. I spend a lot of my time there. One record shop up there that I go a great deal of time and it’s just gutted, completely gutted by human consumption. These people have destroyed it.
JOHNSON: With no regard as to who owns it.
BROWN: Who owned it, no.
BROWN: You know at night, what happens at night is that people who are out looting they could care less as to who owns what -- they’re interested in getting the merchandise inside. But I don’t know if this has been done or not but I would myself personally like to applaud people who did not participate and who did not go on the street and who did stay home and remain calm. I mean we do have a lot of people who did that and I applaud those people who did so.
JOHNSON: The overwhelming majority of people did not participate.
BROWN: A lot of them -- yes, yes, yes.
NELSON: I’ve got a bulletin here from the California Highway Patrol and it says because of the emergency situation that followed the verdicts in the Rodney King beating case the California Highway Patrol is urging motorists to avoid traveling through the Los Angeles metropolitan area until further notice. So they say … don’t even come to LA.
BOWLIN: Let me ask you something Carl -- when the National Guard comes in … is that curfew going to apply to cars as well if you’re driving your car you’re going to be stopped and asked to?
BROWN: I don’t know how they do it now but like I said [unintelligible] in the ‘60s what they did was cordon off the city – unless you have legitimate excuse as to where you’re going I mean you could be arrested. It’s like, it’s like martial law.
NELSON: Right, all your rights.
BROWN: All your rights are definitely taken away from you. And when they come in, they come in with a force, and they could care less. So that’s why it’s very, very important for people to get off the streets and go home. Definitely.
BOWLIN: J, did you see any strategy when you came in? I’m wondering why they left major streets open, wide open.
JOHNSON: As a matter of fact I was going over in my head what am I going to do if this is blocked off, which way will I go if this happens, and will I able to appeal to a policeman in order to get through to get to the radio station. There was absolutely no trouble with me getting from the Santa Monica Freeway to KJLH.
BOWLIN: And these are the major streams where a lot of the crime is going on, a lot of the looting and stuff is going on and being taken…
JOHNSON: Oh yeah, as I came Crenshaw there’s an AMPM … and at that time it hadn’t quite gone up in flames but it was smoking as I passed by. Lot of broken windows and a lot of people traveling up and down the street on foot with big
BROWN: Television sets.
JOHNSON: Garbage sacks and what not. Let me go back to the phone here. It’s KJLH special edition of Front Page. You’re on the air.
CALLER: Good morning.
JOHNSON: Good morning.
CALLER: This is Al from Los Angeles.
JOHNSON: Hello, Al.
CALLER: I was hoping to call a few hours from now and tell Carl how my Lakers were going to come back and sweep those Trailblazers.NELSON: Does anybody here care about basketball tonight? Was the game on?
BROWN: They played?
CALLER: I forgot all about it.
JOHNSON: Is there a team?
CALLER: Oh yeah. But more pressing issues.
NELSON: Yeah, go ahead.
CALLER: I heard the verdict. I wasn’t angry. I was more hurt. You know I had a lot of hope. I was sayin’ ‘We’ll get them on the next, the next verdict, the next one.’ Not guilty, not guilty. And I didn’t feel anger right away. I felt hurt. And I prayed to God cause I knew my next step was a higher anger. You know after you’ve been hurt. I asked God to release that. And I just had to do something. I’m watching on TV and I had all this nervous energy. So I live on Vernon and Normandie and I went up to Audubon Junior High School and played basketball. There was a lot of young brothers up there.
NELSON: What is the situation in that neighborhood right now?
CALLER: A lot of smoke. A lot of sirens. A lot of gunshots. And, hey, it’s it’s scary.
NELSON: OK, well you stay indoors and keep listening to the radio. We’ll let you know if anything happens around.
CALLER: I just like to the say that you know it’s a lot of frustration out there. Don’t take it out on your wife, your children, your family or your co-workers cause I plan on going to work tomorrow and you know if you work around those people you know how they gonna be.
NELSON: That’s a good point.
BROWN: Definitely. I mean even statements like ‘Well, I know how you feel.’
CALLER: Yeah, and ‘Why do you do that to each [other]?’
NELSON: It can set you off.
BROWN: Try and control your temper and you know be on guard for some of the things that will happen.
CALLER: I took a ride down Crenshaw after playing. A lot of brothers were up there venting, you know, their energy into a positive note. All the brothers not out there burning and you know, they know I live in the community, I own homes here. We don’t want to tear our community up. There are a lot of positive people. So you know my TV, but I knew I could count on KJLH you know to be there. Everybody stay positive and stay indoors.
JOHNSON: OK, thank you very much for your call.
BROWN: Thanks a lot.
JOHNSON: All right. Bye, bye. Woo, boy oh boy oh boy. I’m wondering when the National Guard’s gonna arrive. They just had Governor Wilson on TV.
JOHNSON: Talking about that. He didn’t mention whether or not they’re gonna be -- they’re with loaded guns or what the deal is.
BOWLIN: Or rubber bullets or anything. There’s no specific time. There’s no specific route.
NELSON: In less than two hours.
JOHNSON: Less than two hours the guard will be here?
BOWLIN: Right but they’re not disclosing anything other than the fact that them showing up is impending.
BROWN: That just shows the unconcern of our area in terms they could have been on standby.
BROWN: In terms of waiting on the verdict, they could have been dispersed in certain areas so some of this could have been curtailed. It’s very, very, very sad that it’s not being done.
JOHNSON: Does anyone feel that there was an element of a self-fulfilling prophesy here with all the talk on the media over the past few days?
BOWLIN: Oh, exactly.
JOHNSON: About a potential riot.
BOWLIN: You know the thing that really is stunning me is that -- I don’t know if anyone else saw this -- but a lot of these stations were actually going up to people’s homes on their porches and asking them directly ‘Will you riot?’ … It’s not something that someone’s just going to think of doing. When you look out, you see ordinary people, ordinary kids, you know mothers and fathers, people you would never think of going into these. They just cleared out jewelry store right across the street in no time flat.
BROWN: A few minutes ago we just saw what was had to be a family, I mean probably a father, a mother and with their kids and they’re out there looting the liquor store.
JOHNSON: It’s ridiculous.
BROWN: It was ridiculous.
BOWLIN: It was built up and like you say J. almost a prophetic type of ideal that was going on with it.
JOHNSON: K, it’s the special edition of front page. You’re on 102.3 KJLH, you’re on the air, hello.
CALLER: Hello, this is Pamela. I’ve been listening to you because I don’t have any lights. I live in the Crenshaw area and we don’t have any lights, we don’t have any kind of electricity here and I’m very upset.
NELSON: What street do you live on?
CALLER: I live on 4th Avenue. I live on 4th Avenue and we haven’t had any lights or anything for the last five or six hours. But the one thing I have several points but I just make it very short. The one thing that’s really upsetting me and I appreciate KJLH for giving us this forum within which to vent our anger and stuff. But we’re not offering any solutions to these angry black people. I’m a black professional. I also went to Hastings College of Law. I went to all white institutions of higher education and me as a black professional I am guilty of the same thing but you are also. We’re not offering any kind of solutions to these black people that are out here in the streets. They’re venting their anger. We’re not offering any solutions for them.
NELSON: Well, OK, you may have joined us late but some of the solutions that we did offer was that you register to vote. I think your cut off date is May 4. There is a provision on the June 2 ballot that calls for changes in the LAPD.
CALLER: I understand those. But those are unrealistic for these uneducated --
NELSON: No it’s not unrealistic. Voting is not unrealistic …
MAY 30, 1992, Midnight.
JOHNSON: It's me, J.J. Johnson, along with Brandon Bowlin, and I don't know where Chris Lewis went, but I suppose he'll be back in a little while. Well, you've got a handful of papers ...
BOWLIN: Just something new, the Postal Service will be open ... will open 10 post offices, that's 10 post offices in the South Central Los Angeles area tomorrow for residents to pick up their Social Security and county checks. You'll recall that some post offices were broken into in some of the neighborhoods and they were vandalized, and so they are opening some other ones to handle the load. Identification will be necessary, said USPS spokesman David Mazur. The post offices will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. That's 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will not be any carrier delivery from these stations.
Here's the zip codes and addresses ...
If you want more information, call the Postal Service and they will let you know what's going on. Remember, they will not be giving bundles, they will not be delivering packages for you. These are just so you can pick up your Social Security checks and your county checks.
In other news, Chief [Daryl] Gates had something to say about this yesterday. He said that unlike the three-day riots 27 years ago, the current situation in Los Angeles broke out much faster and in a more widespread area. The most recent law enforcement efforts were hindered by dozens of arson fires that broke out in troubled areas. Firefighters, under attack by gangsters who filled the streets, required police escorts in order to put out the fires, he said. Fire Chief Donald Manning said that between midnight and 3 a.m., his department received three calls per minute for fires. Short on resources, he said that at one point blazes that were 'a total loss' were left so that firefighters could get to fires that still could be controlled. Several firefighters were threatened, one by an ax, and others by gunfire. Manning said at least four firefighters were wounded by gunfire.
In other news, the jurors finally opened their mouths -- the jurors in the notorious trial who refused to explain their rationale immediately following the verdicts -- came forward hesitantly, Thursday. One juror interviews interviewed by CNN on condition of anonymity said that she didn't think the panelists' decision 'tied into' the riots. She said, 'I think they were just waiting for something to happen so that they could go out and vandalize and destroy peoples' lives and their property ... I think that's horrible.'
I don't think there's another statement that can say just how out of touch the situation was in that courtroom.
JOHNSON: Here we go again with that us versus them thing. Which is at the core of this.
BOWLIN: Right. That should be the biggest point that spilled all over the world, I'll tell you, because there ain't no us and them. It's in Beverly Hills, it's in Westwood, it's right here on Crenshaw, it's on Slauson. The us-them ...
JOHNSON: It's all us.
BOWLIN: Right. It's down. It's we. We is, basically.
JOHNSON: As long as we're getting up off some information, here is something that we mentioned a little earlier, and that is at LA City Hall, yesterday -- of course, now it's tomorrow -- established a toll-free number for citizens who have suffered property damage at their homes or businesses during the riots. Now, if you're going to use the telephone at all, use it because you absolutely need to use it. The number is ...
Brandon Bowlin and Chris Lewis are in here with me. Did you have anything new ... Chris?
LEWIS: I have a little bit here. Little bit happened out in Pomona this afternoon. A peace rally in Pomona today led to violence in which one person was shot, police were pelted with debris and small fires were set during a five-hour ranpage. Police Lt. Leon Sakamoto said, 'We were unable to contain before it got out of hand.' Another police report says that the officer involved in the shooting where one suspect was killed occurred at 6th Street and Westlake Avenue, near MacArthur Park, at about 10:30 p.m. And the incident brings the death toll to 25.
JOHNSON: Oh, man.
BOWLIN: So basically what's going on is open season. Brothers, please, please stay indoors. I'm not saying be passive. I'm saying if you're going to go indoors, go indoors with some other brothers and sisters and talk about this. Talk about strategies to deal with this thing. Because it's never gonna be over.
JOHNSON: Viable strategies.
BOWLIN: Right. I'm not saying go on in and cower and play Tom. Please don't go outside. You're not going to win when they have all the guns, they have all the vehicles, they have all the lights, all the infrared and all that. And you have very little. Once again: it's on for them. It's a hunt, so please, please take care of yourselves.
LEWIS: Yeah, use some intelligence. This is a decision of being either stupid or smart, and the stupid thing is to be out in the street. The smart thing is to be where it's safe, which is indoors.
JOHNSON: Absolutely. Wanna go to the phones again?
BOWLIN: Might as well.
JOHNSON: OK, 102.3 KJLH. Good morning, who's this?
CALLER: Hi, my name's Donna McDuffy.
JOHNSON: OK, Donna. What's on your mind.
CALLER: 79th and Normandie. Not too far from the infamous intersection where everything started. This is no longer a South Central issue. It's no longer centralized here. It's swarmed out to other neighborhoods. And I believe that we just need to come together, especially the black community, with some prominent black leaders -- even entertainers -- and just go out and rally and peacefully march, and just put an end to all of this. And the major intersections surrounding this particular incident ... they've just burned down. There's no more businesses. None at all.
BOWLIN: How is the situation there now? What is the feeling there?
CALLER: East of Normandie, there is no power due to the rioting. At first I thought LAPD had connected with Warner Power to have the power cut off, but apparently it's due to the rioting. So we have homes without power, and we even have homeless people, due to this. Homes have been burned down, these are black homes that have been burned down. They have no homes at all. Also, I was curious to know if you thought it would help the situation if Rodney King made a statement himself.
BOWLIN: You know, we've been asked that several times, whether or not Rodney's voice in this matter could really save some of the buildings that have already, or are about to be, destroyed. I don't know. I think that the anger has pretty much taken over and the situation has pretty much taken over. I'm not saying it's run it's course. It's shifted gears now. This thing is bigger than Rodney, only in that it's bigger than him as a person. Not the ideal, not what he's gone through. But for him to come out and make a statement would definitely make people think. But I don't know if it would stop people. Because it's very clear if you look at the news that we've seen that some people have their own agenda.
JOHNSON: Absolutely, and with very little to do with Rodney King.
CALLER: Very little to do with it at all. Well thank you gentlemen, and you guys are doing a great job.
DEEJAYS: Thank you.
JOHNSON: Tell you what, let's do another one, see what's up. KJLH, hello.
CALLER: Hey, what's happening. I just have a couple of things that I'd like to say. My name is Bruce, and I heard you guys talking about New York earlier. It just so happens that I'm from the South Bronx, and I remember when there was a big thing going on back then, people would burn down the Bronx. And it was the same thing, where blacks and Puerto Ricans were getting fed up with ...
JOHNSON: The establishment?
CALLER: Excuse me?
JOHNSON: I was trying to help you find that word.
CALLER: Right. We were really getting fed up. And I remember people standing on top of their rooftops -- I was a young kid -- and people were on their rooftops and throwing bricks and whatever they could find at firefighters to get them out of their neighborhood, because they wanted it to burn to make a message.
And, being out here, seeing the same thing going on, I know I'm getting scared. I've been out here for two months, and ...
JOHNSON: And what a time to come to town.
CALLER: Yeah, right? But I'm not too familiar with LA, but I'm located, I think it's mid-Wilshire. And down by the Boys Market?
BOWLIN: I know where that is.
CALLER: It's near the World On Wheels.
CALLER: I saw the swap meet going up and I've shopped there a couple times, and there's nothing but shops that are owned and or operated by people of color. And it just really hurts to see people taking advantage of the situation.
BOWLIN: Let me ask you something. Have you talked to anyone in New York since this started?
CALLER: Some of my friends called me and they told me that they wanted to make sure I was OK out here.
BOWLIN: Now, what is the feeling in New York? Is there any tension mounting there?
CALLER: Yeah, they told me that -- I have a friend who lives on 157th Street -- well, he lives in the heart of Harlem.
BOWLIN: I know exactly where that is.
CALLER: Well, he told me that Harlem is in uproar. It's scary. It's really scary. And I have cousins who live out in Atlanta. And they were telling me that they were part of the march. And my aunt back in Atlanta was telling me that she can't find her son because he's out there rioting and looting and doing all that crazy stuff, you know, thinking he's doing what's right for Rodney King. Back East, it's just a Rodney King thing, everybody's upset.
BOWLIN: You're saying that it could be more politically based, rather than the sporadic violence that you're seeing in Los Angeles.
CALLER: Right. And one other thing. I saw on the news that people were actually out there helping the fire department, with fires. And that's what I thought I could do. So I got a couple of family members to go out with me and see if we could help put out these fires, but they didn't need our help, right? So, I'm walking around. And it's so funny, I just wanted to see what was happening, and I saw people running out of the Boys Market with all this stuff.And you know what really hurt? What really hurt me the most was that people -- I don't know, I'm not assuming -- but I knew they were affiliated with World On Wheels, and they themselves ... they had walkie-talkies on, trying to protect World On Wheels and the bowling alley, but they themselves were in the Boys Market, stealing stuff, and putting it in the basement. And I'm over here, screaming, 'Yo, what are you guys doing?' They should be setting sort of an example themselves. And they were stealing and putting it in their basement.
LEWIS: You know, I don't want to rain on people's parade as far as who the heroes are supposed to be, but these are very ordinary people who are doing these things. It's not ... I'm not trying to tell you that you should set standards for certain people, but I've seen whole families, people who are the nicest -- I mean, the glow on these people's faces -- and they're just tearing stuff up.
JOHNSON: I tell you what, let's take ourselves a little bit of a break here and see what's going on here. In the meantime, it's Whitney Houston, on KJLH.
JOHNSON: KJLH, that's a friend, the Winans, got another couple of Winans coming up. This is a special edition of Front Page. J.J. Johnson, along with Brandon Bowlin, and I don't know where Chris Lewis went -- he's out there looking for some information.
BOWLIN: Yeah, Chris took care of some research that we were looking on some stories.
JOHNSON: OK, we got the phone lines open. We ask that you keep it short and succinct because the last one got a little on the long side. We want to give everybody a chance to get their two cents in here and their comments and their feeling and whatnot. We want to talk to you, but keep it as short as possible. Hello, who's this?
CALLER: Hello, this is Tony I'm in Santa Monica.
JOHNSON: OK Tony.
CALLER: Just gonna say my two cents. First of all I want to commend you guys for doing a tremendous job keeping us connected, because when something like this is going on it's really good to know what's going on in other parts of the city because the phone lines can be down, and I know other radio stations have been trying to capitalize on this peace thing, and tonight they're not talking about this at all. So when it comes down to it, you guys really have this covered.
DEEJAYS: Thank you.
CALLER: When we support our African American businesses, we also have to support our African American radio stations. And let any marketer know that if you even want to come talk to this market, there's only one radio station you should call.
BOWLIN: Where are you calling from, my brother?
CALLER: Santa Monica.
BOWLIN: Santa Monica, and how is it out there?
CALLER: Actually, it's all right out here. And that's pretty amazing. There's a lot of police cars, and everything's being controlled.
BOWLIN: How close are you to Venice?
CALLER: I live about five minutes away from Venice.
BOWLIN: OK, now there was some reports that some gang members were getting together, and I don't know, supposedly, to tear up Venice. And that the National Guard was secretly there first.
CALLER: That's another one of those two plus two is five -- we tell you whatever we want and you believe it.
BOWLIN: Right, what's actually was happening was nothing?
BOWLIN: OK, nothing to that story.
CALLER: Matter of fact, just yesterday, we had an ample supply of police cars, maybe around 15, that were parked at the Emporium near Venice. And everything was under total control.
BOWLIN: Good. I'm glad we cleared that up.
CALLER: And the point I wanted to bring up, my point was this: it's only obvious that this is a systematic plan that's going in exactly the way someone wants it to.
JOHNSON: Are you suggesting an organized conspiracy?
CALLER: It has to be. I'm quite positive. I've seen a fire at a gas station. Now, some things have a priority. And you'd think that a fire at a gas station, in any community, would be something of a priority. But a gas station in a community that's sometimes called 'the Jungle,' isn't much of a priority. And I think we're falling prey to that mindset where we no longer distinguish wrong from right. They aren't firmly represented. And it's important to distinguish wrong from right. I don't care what you do. You can't change a wrong into a right. It's not supported. You can't justify doing all that.
JOHNSON: You know Malcolm X said, when you're right you're right and when you're wrong, you're wrong, and I don't think you can say it more succinctly than that. Thanks for your call. OK, moving right along here.
Hello, you're on KJLH.
CALLER: Hi. My name is Valerie. I was just talking to some of the ladies, and what is in everybody's head is that a man can go to jail for two years for kicking a dog and yet they're trying to justify their right for beating up Rodney King, and I think what people should do is channel all their energies together and come together with all of the small black businesses that they have, like contractors and electricians and get together, and since they didn't really want the Vietnamese and the Orientals in their neighborhoods anyway, I think that they should go ahead and build up their community so that they can get their pride and their dignity back. Where it's supposed to be.
I used to live in Atlanta and I used to be so proud of the blacks out there for what they had accomplished. It really felt good to me to just drive up and down the street and see so many black businesses. I think everybody will get their self-respect and their self-pride back if they can just come together and build our community up and see what we can accomplish and not wait a long time, you know, driving around and seeing all these burnt building, and just build it up. Maybe now that the Bloods and the Crips are united, maybe they can pull their money together and build up our community also.
JOHNSON: Well, I would question that last statement. But thanks for your input. You know there's one other thing about what she said. I'm not quite sure I'm down with. I don't think it's a matter of wanting to keep other groups of people -- Asians, for example -- out of the community. I think it's more how it's treated.
BOWLIN: Pro-black does not mean that you're against anyone else. That you have certain ideals that you are going to actually exclude people based on their creed. It means that what you're going to try to do is look to your situation first, so that you can take care of yourself, so that you can get yourself together. And then when you have yourself together, reach out to someone else, and bring them along. There's nothing wrong with doing that.
JOHNSON: Right. Kind of like you said. Hello? You're there?
CALLER: I want to remain nameless.
CALLER: I have a solution for the whole thing. Why don't the police just walk in and turn themselves in? You know, everyone else is out here being hurt. You know, God, He killed himself for everybody. Why don't they be punished? Why don't they get down and be punished. You know? The feeling speaks for itself. Why don't they take some kind of punishment. Why don't they just break down and turn themselves in and say, 'Hey, we're gonna take some kind of punishment, you know?'
JOHNSON: Well as a legal issue, I believe it's really over. The jury has spoken and we're kind of stuck with that. And the other thing, and I think we mentioned this an hour or so ago, is that these gentlemen don't consider that they've done anything wrong.
CALLER: I mean, they've got to see that they did something wrong. Otherwise this is going to keep going on. Why don't they break down and be men? God was one man, he broke down and died for everybody on this earth. Why can't they take some kind of punishment. What's wrong with them, are they not that kind of man? Can't they hear me? What's really going on?
JOHNSON: Well, I think they don't hear me.
BOWLIN: Let me explain this, and that this situation does not hinge on the one circumstance that the one verdict has led to. In other words, that was the catalyst that set this stuff off, it wasn't the entire force. We're talking about years and years and years of offensive tactics used by the LAPD, of apprehension and animosity building between the authority figures of this city and the lay people, of depressed economic conditions, depressed ideals, depressed cultures, and all these things came to a fruition. And these are the things that keep the momentum going. These are the things that are the impetus. Rodney King isn't the situation that keeps it --
JOHNSON: By itself, that's not what it's about.
JOHNSON: OK, I'll tell you what, we'll get back to the phones in just moments, OK?
JOHNSON: This is J.J. Johnson and Brandon Bowlin along with Chris Lewis on another special edition of the Front Page. Taking your calls ... We want to hear your opinions and thought on the events of the past two days. Hello, what's on your mind?
JOHNSON: Yes, you're on the air.
CALLER: Yes, this is Reverend Shawn.
JOHNSON: Okay, Brother Shawn.
CALLER: I just want to make it plain and simple. First of all, I have been beaten by the police.
CALLER: And I feel like this is a racist type of situation. But I think what we must understand is that we don't want to have a confrontation with guns, or whatever. That's stupid.
JOHNSON: Oh, I agree, I agree.
CALLER: Right. It don't make no sense, because a lot of innocent people will come up missing. What we want to do as black people is that we need to organize. Now, the main thing that we need to do is these entertainers, or whatever, you know, I'm not going to call any names. They need to put money back into the community for young people. You know what I'm saying, Michael Jackson, making all that money, what's he doing with it. I understand that the Jews are controlling him, or whatever, but we need to say, 'Well look, we're not gonna spend no more money on your records if you don't support our community.'
JOHNSON: Well, I'm not entirely sure that he's not, because we don't know where he's putting his money.
BOWLIN: And not to mention any names --
CALLER: They're controlling it though. You know what I'm saying?
JOHNSON: How do you know this?
CALLER: Oh, brother, they're controlling LA.
JOHNSON: OK, well ...
CALLER: But let me get my point ... I don't even want to get into the controversy, I want to get into the good.
BOWLIN: Be quick.
JOHNSON: We have some other callers waiting in line.
CALLER: What I'm saying is we need to get our community back. And to recycle our dollars quick. And we also need to have a bridge to our country through international trade. Now, since our mayor didn't get into Sacramento or whatever, this is our only place. We have to get our communities in LA so that we can have trade, so that we can get our products at a cheap price.
JOHNSON: Well, listen, thank you very much for your input.
JOHNSON: OK. Let's go to another line. Hello, you're on the air.
CALLER: Thank you. I live in RIverside County, and I'd like to say that I have the names of the jurors, the phone numbers and addresses.
JOHNSON: Oh, well, I think we need to be keeping them off the radio.
CALLER: I'm going to be typing them up and passing them out tomorrow in the city of LA.
JOHNSON: But what would you accomplish by doing that.
CALLER: Whoever wants them can have them.
JOHNSON: But for what purpose? I mean, other than to stir up some more hatred and violence towards these people.
CALLER: To vent our anger ... at each other.
JOHNSON: Sorry I missed that.
CALLER: To vent the anger on the one who made the decision and not at each other.
JOHNSON: But that's just part of the system. These people did what they felt was right. I'm not trying to defend them, but that's the way the system is set up. It's just why a lot of this stuff is happening.
CALLER: And I know that it's a very prejudiced county and I knew that when they moved the trial there -- when they accepted the trial there -- what was going to happen.
JOHNSON: Well, I can certainly understand your frustrations and your feelings, but I hope that you would not release names and phone numbers on the jurors. I think that's a bad move.
CALLER: No, I'm going to do it.
JOHNSON: OK, well listen, I guess you got to do what you got to do. I'm hoping that you'll change your mind between now and tomorrow, but I thank you for your call.
CALLER: OK thank you.
JOHNSON: OK, bye-bye. Oh, man. Sometimes it gets scary, doesn't it?
BOWLIN: Yeah, some things often do, but that just goes to show you that some people are so upset and so mad, and I'm not saying we should follow that course of action, but let me tell you: what she does is very destructive, as the brothers burning down the buildings -- the black-owned buildings -- and the people looting that places and all that. The thing is is that these are everyday people. It's not the thugs that called the chief of police -- well he is, the chief of police -- but it's not the bands of gangs and all this that he's drawing the picture. I talked to someone in London and they think the Bloods and the Crips have split up LA. No, these are normal people sent on extraordinary journeys of bent frustration.
JOHNSON: I've heard a lot of people in the past couple days ... and certainly, it's understandable. I got a guy on the phone last night -- and this did not go on the air, we put the phones to rest for a couple of hours yesterday morning -- but I can't even repeat what he said, but just take it from me, I think his thinking was quite distorted based upon his understandable anger. And I think that what we need to do is back off, cool off a little bit, and, the way I used to put it in business is: don't go off hot, go off cold.
Let's take another call. Hi, who is this?
CALLER: Yeah, hi, how are you. My name is Ralph.
JOHNSON: Hi Ralph.
CALLER: West LA.
CALLER: The thing that I keep hearing everyone talking about is the black against white. And I'm from West LA, and myself, I'm a minority myself, I'm Mexican. But I look white and I grew up in Central LA as a young teenager, and then I went to the Valley and it was all white. And so I got to understand both the black and the white people, and I myself am Mexican. So I happen to have a wider spectrum than most people. I can understand the way that people look at life in general, and within their own perspectives.
But my point is, I keep hearing over and over that it's the white, the oppression and everything ... and with this King issue, I've found that most white people are actually on your side. Everybody sympathizes with you, and everybody understands that this is wrong, what happened. And my suggestion is not to alienate the white people, because they're actually on your side in this issue.
BOWLIN: Well, the situation is such that it's a human thing. And I think that people who have been through the experience, white or black, understand that. What happens though is that we can only draw from that direct experiences, and the things that are going down on Crenshaw took a while to get to Beverly Hills, if you understand what I mean. And I'm not saying that we're necessarily we're at each other's throats or it's white versus black or war, it's just ... different timing. That's all that's going on. We've gone through this a great deal of time. To be honest with you, I doubt that there are very few brothers in the area, South Central Los Angeles, that were completely shocked -- I mean, they were sad and they were mad when they saw that film. But I don't think there were a great many that were completely shocked.
On the other hand, we're still getting calls from as far as Lancaster and Palmdale and Palm Springs ... people of all races who are VERY shocked. So, in that case, it's a geographic thing. People who live in the immediate city who see this every day. Some people who live out and beyond ... they don't even know that this stuff goes on.
JOHNSON: Right, right. Well, Ralph, thank you very much for your call.
CALLER: OK, thank you.
JOHNSON: And I tell you what we're going to do, we're going to get back to some more calls in just a little while, on 102.3, KJLH. Special edition of Front Page. Stick around.
JOHNSON: 102.3, KJLH. Marvin Gaye, 'What's Goin' On?' It just never gets old. That thing's 20 years old and still right on time.
LEWIS: Right on the money.
JOHNSON: This is J.J. Johnson, with Chris Lewis. Brandon Bowlin is back in there gathering some more information for this special edition of Front Page. We're going to go back to the phones. When you call up, please keep it as short and to the point as you can so we can get to as many people as possible. Hi, who's on the line?
JOHNSON: OK, what's on your mind?
CALLER: Well, I've seen a lot of things happen tonight on the streets of LA.
JOHNSON: You been out there?
CALLER: Yeah. And I was one of the guys who was going into the stores and ...
JOHNSON: You were one of them?
JOHNSON: What motivated you to do that?
CALLER: Well, because the thing is, in 1965, a lot of people, police were arresting a lot of black people, they got hurt, and a lot of people went into churches. And last night a lot of people went -- a lot of people are in the churches right now. But what good is that going to do? We have to protest.
JOHNSON: Yeah, but are you suggesting that you looted?
JOHNSON: Well, what good does that do?
CALLER: Well, OK.
BOWLIN: ... Also, if you look at the situation with Gates, it was a textbook situation on how to wield power.
BOWLIN: And he's played it to the last.
CALLER: He's sitting there, smirking while the governor was sitting up there talking.
JOHNSON: Sure looked that way. Matt we've got to move on, thank you for your comments.
JOHNSON: Let's try another one. KJLH, who's this?
CALLER: How are you doing?
JOHNSON: I'm fine, how are you?
CALLER: I'm fine, I'm calling from work right now. My heart just sunk when I heard this two days ago, this verdict that went by.
CALLER: It gives me a feeling that the caucasian sector can do whatever they want with African American society.
JOHNSON: Well, certain people, for sure.
CALLER: And the, I think it's kind of a combination of not just this verdict for Rodney King, but I think the not guilty verdict for the African American teenager out in New York where they beat him to death with the sticks.
JOHNSON: Yusef Hawkins.
CALLER: And the Yula Love, Don Jackson, Latasha Harlins, Rod Settles even, this goes forever.
JOHNSON: Well, yeah, we've ... earlier conversations we had about Rodney King being the catalyst for this thing, but it was part of a long build-up.
BOWLIN: A great buildup of many, many situations.
CALLER: I was listening to KNX earlier today with a co-worker and they told me, one of the guys said that he would shoot the person who kicked that truck driver the last time. Now isn't that some subtle irony? What do you think?
JOHNSON: Well, I'll tell you something, I think tempers are pretty hot and people tend to say some pretty irrational things when they're angry, and there are a lot of angry people in town right now.
BOWLIN: I'll tell you what. Irresponsibility is irresponsibility and these people and violent action cannot be condoned in any event. At the very beginning, when they beat that man, and drug him out of his semi, beat him up and left him there for dead, and then took his wallet and his money ... and by the way, it looks like he's going to pull through, he's been moved up to serious condition.
JOHNSON: I'm glad to hear that.
CALLER: I think that that was wrong just as pulling Rodney King out of his car and beating him.
BOWLIN: Thank you for calling. By the way we have some numbers here, we've moved up. There are 24, 24 right now, confirmed killed.
JOHNSON: This is depressing. I'm scared to go into the newsroom.
BOWLIN: Yeah. The fire chief has said that he has received over 3,000 emergency calls since the very beginning of it. It seems that by tomorrow, they want to have 6,000 National Guard in. I haven't seen a National Guard ...
JOHNSON: I saw them on TV.
BOWLIN: Except for the one I spoke with. I haven't seen them in great ...
JOHNSON: You spoke with one.
BOWLIN: Yes, down the street.
JOHNSON: On Crenshaw? We're on Crenshaw, for your information.
BOWLIN: Yeah, and also [Governor Pete] Wilson is going to try to solicit President George Bush to send in some federal troops as well.
JOHNSON: Oh, boy.
BOWLIN: Some federal troops. So, I don't know. It doesn't seem like it's rolling over down here. It's really quiet. I don't know what the rest of the city is like right now. That's why when you call in, please, you don't have to tell us your name, but please tell us where you're from. And give us a little insight on what's going on in your neighborhood.
JOHNSON: OK, who's on the line right now?
CALLER: This is Maurice from Inglewood.
JOHNSON: Hello Maurice, what's up?
CALLER: Right now, I'm just sitting here, just really, not even worrying about it anymore, because I just think it's total ignorance on all races. I think Hispanics, blacks, whites, it just goes to show you how when they come together how strong the people can be and how big of an impact they can put on society. But they're going about it the wrong way, because you know, when you get angry, you react wrong, you think wrong.
CALLER: You think of hatred, you think of anger, you think of destruction. And I think that they're not thinking before they react. And I don't think it boils down to the Rodney King verdict. I think it goes back hundreds and hundreds of years, from you know, day one. Right now, they just have an excuse to let out all their frustration on innocent people. People losing their jobs, people losing their businesses, and all because of what? For nothing, you know? And not necessarily nothing ... But there's a different way we can go about this. I mean, all this violence and destruction. .. I mean, when the black community wakes up and finds out that their whole community is burnt down, then what?
JOHNSON: So, you think that what we need to do is maybe back off and think a little.
CALLER: Yeah, because once all this smoke clears, as they put it, as the smoke clears, and your community is gone, you have to rebuild it again, and then, what I think what's going to happen is that the black community is going to look at the white man and think, 'Oh, well he won't give us this now to help us rebuild, and he won't give us that,' and he will look at us and say, 'Well, who did the trouble, who started this and that?' And I think it's gonna be a really sad case. I mean, you can't sit around all day moping, saying well, this is sad, we have to start getting back on, 'OK, this is happening, what do we do to stop this in the near future?'
JOHNSON: Well, all right. Thank you for your comments.
CALLER: Thank you.
JOHNSON: All right.
LEWIS: You know I was thinking that when all this is over, the people that have to look at the destruction every day are the people that are ...
JOHNSON: Like us, looking across the street.
JOHNSON: For example.
LEWIS: It's sad.
JOHNSON: It really is. And it's kind of surreal that in my entire 20-year radio career, I've never actually sat in the thick of it. In the middle of the news story when it was going down.
LEWIS: Watching looting and burning right out in front of you.
JOHNSON: I don't really need to do this again.
LEWIS: Yeah, this is a one-time shot for me, hopefully.
JOHNSON: Tell you what, let's do some music, and then we'll pick up the phone again. It's a special edition of the Front Page on 102.3 KJLH.
JOHNSON: 102.3 KJLH, that was 'Jesus Is Love,' The Commodores. That takes us back a little while. This is J.J. Johnson, along with Brandon Bowlin and Chris Lewis is around here somewhere ...
BOWLIN: He's out there, doing more research.
JOHNSON: Is that where he is?
BOWLIN: Yeah, he's trying to find out from the wire ... We're trying to keep everybody updated as much as possible on certain things. Like I said before, they're going to be some specific post officers they're going to be using later on today. I'll have that information for you shortly. They're going to open 10 new post offices, in response to the ones that were vandalized. They'll be able to give you Social Security and county checks, only. No packaging or bundling.
BOWLIN: That's just a short little thing.
JOHNSON: There was somebody who had mentioned ... brought it up a while ago. ... We've had a lot of calls, people saying that we should take charge of our communities and blah, blah, blah and so forth, and open our own businesses and purchase from black businesses, and that's all well and good. I wonder though, just a rhetorical question at this point. I wonder how many people are going to the extent of enrolling in business school, and taking business courses. And going to the library, and learning about various businesses.
BOWLIN: Setting up corporations. Getting together. That's a very good point. You know there's a lot of people who have been working out here ... there's a vast resource of knowledge right down the street. All these vendors. Talk to them. All these brothers and sisters that have been in business for a long time. You can go talk to them. And there are resources in the library, you can go get book read and that's fine, you get your business licence and that's straight. But when you get that know-how together with that book-learning, man, there's nothing that can stop you.
JOHNSON: Right. There's no shortcut. There really is no shortcut. You have got to roll up your sleeves and you do it. You really have to be objective and be businesslike about it.
BOWLIN: It's one thing to talk about it. It's another thing to actually do it.
JOHNSON: Let's go to the lines. Hello, who's on the line? Hello? Oh, sorry about that, I just missed you. My fault. Who is this?
CALLER: This is Brad from Inglewood.
JOHNSON: Hey, Brad.
CALLER: And I just wanted to say that I've been looking at all these things that have been on TV, and right now, I can say that while some of the people are happy that things have calmed down, I'm sort of disappointed.
CALLER: Reason one is because I'm looking at all this stuff about gun restrictions, gas -- you can only fill up your tank ... you know, all these things I'm looking at with the National Guard, it just looks like Los Angeles is getting put under more and more control. It seems as if people were complaining about police brutality, by the same rage we've put ourselves in more suppression.
JOHNSON: Well, that's just the nature of martial law. The rights of all the citizens of Los Angeles at this time have been ... are cut short.
CALLER: Hey, the reason why I'm really concerned is that I've been reading some things in the Nation of Islam paper Final Call, and they have the actual things like this, set up as they say, just looking for the opportunity to use these things to keep us under suppression.
JOHNSON: Well, it's our job not to be suppressed. But ...
BOWLIN: It's a very good point that he makes, though. That the situation that led up to the violence and the uprising and looting and so on and so forth, has basically had a reciprocal effect. Everyone's talking about being free, about getting retribution, and the only thing it does, the only thing it ended up doing was making you a prisoner in your own community.
BOWLIN: They've locked you down and basically, let's count the ratio of how many people out there with the guns are on, so-called, our side. And how many on the other side. And when I say other side, I mean the people who are not going around, talking about 'Free Rodney King' -- not 'Free Rodney King' ... 'This is for Rodney King,' and the people who are going out there, basically just --
JOHNSON: What can I get?
CALLER: It's pretty sad. I just hope that the leadership that's talking can definitely gather up all the different entertainment artists and athletes and try to get them together in a little rally and stuff, and try to do some things for the community as well as all these business people -- try to collect their dollars together so we can build up all the businesses that have been destroyed. And maybe, try to fund different organizations that can help solve the problems that's been going on. Like, why would a person go out there and loot? Try to solve the problems with the black man, and probably the low self-esteem, the poor education, you know, try to get to those organizations that know how to cope with those problems and maybe we can do something.
You know I know that this incident that is happening is dramatic and tragic and has really caused a lot of people a lot of misery. But, like I've heard before, maybe something positive can come out of this, with people trying to gather together.
JOHNSON: Well, let's hope so. Brad, thank you for your call.
CALLER: No problem.
JOHNSON: All right. KJLH, who's this?
CALLER: Hi this is Jan.
JOHNSON: Hey, Jan.
CALLER: I just received a phone call about 30 minutes ago, a Korean guy called me, saying that Rodney King stinks, he deserved to be beat, and that all niggers need to go back to Africa. And I told him that I'm not running, I'm not hiding, divided we stand or divided we fall ... I'm staying here.
JOHNSON: OK. Listen, how do you know that it was actually a Korean person that called you?
CALLER: It was.
JOHNSON: I'm sorry?
CALLER: He had the accent, he sounded like one. He was very pissed off because of Koreatown.
JOHNSON: OK, well, that was one individual.
BOWLIN: I'm going to break a rule that we have, I'm going to make a suggestion. Right now, our community is on fire, our community is burning, our community has been pretty much hurt. Let's worry about us for a moment. People can call, say what they want, do what they gotta do, but we're still going to be here tomorrow, we have to deal with the fact that there aren't any small stores that people can go to, our first aid has been cut down, the electricity may be cut off, the water may be cut off --
JOHNSON: Or has been.
BOWLIN: Right, and you can't call anybody. So, sister, my small suggestion is to take a positive note, get in the pro-black situation, and take care of what you have right now, and don't worry about stuff like that. Because that type of situation is never, ever gonna lead to anything that's positive in your life or their life or anything else. And in the end, I mean if someone really wants to come with something, are they really going to warn you first?
CALLER: It's just like I told him.
JOHNSON: All right. It gets wild, boy, it just gets wilder and wilder. KJLH, you're on the air.
CALLER: How you doing?
CALLER: All right, what I want to say is my people perish because of a lack of knowledge. One. Two is, we need the men that are not locked up, we need them to take responsibility for, first of all, their family. And then we need anybody else that they can, you know, make a positive confession, you know, just speaking to them. That's where it starts.
BOWLIN: In other words you're saying it starts with communication.
CALLER: Right! We need communication, just among our man and wife. All of the black communication has been broken down, because it's slave-oriented. Now, I wanna say this. There's just one God. And we see what's happening! So we need to unite before it's too late. And we need young leadership, new ideas. We need to be backed up by people, your managements, and different other people, and you know, give us a chance. I mean, I was with some people that drink them 40 ounces, you know what I'm saying? And they ain't thinking about school. They should have been in school.
BOWLIN: Let me ask you something, where are you calling from?
CALLER: I mean with school, I couldn't even get a financial aid check? I'm strictly about school.
BOWLIN: I say again ...
CALLER: From cradle to the grave, Mohammed.
JOHNSON: Sir, Brandon had a question for you.
BOWLIN: Where are you calling from?
CALLER: I'm calling from I guess this is Venice and Hauser?
BOWLIN: And what's the situation there?
CALLER: Oh, it's cool, man. Just ... I'm from the East Side.
BOWLIN: But has it quieted down?
CALLER: On the corner, I'm new to this place up here.
JOHNSON: Front Page, hello, are you there?
CALLER: Yes, I'm there.
CALLER: Yes, my name is [unintelligible] and I'm like in South Central, OK? And I woke up this morning and my whole car is covered in debris from burning buildings. You know, it's like ... I do not condone all this burning buildings, because to me, it makes no sense. You know what I'm saying? It makes no sense.
But at the same time, you know, it's like, I live in South Central and today, my wife and my children rolled up the street, and all we saw was everything that was burning down, it belonged to Koreans. You know, I don't think it's fair, at all. You know, because our community is turned into a firebomb. It's like every corner you turn, there's something burning.
JOHNSON: Generally, you're frustrated.
CALLER: I'm frustrated, because I don't have no neighborhood no more. It's completely destroyed. It's completely destroyed.
JOHNSON: Whereabouts in South Central are you?
CALLER: OK, I like right off of Hooper, on the other side of Central and Manchester, you know? And it's like, destroyed. And I went out today to talk to some brothers and all they could tell me was that it's what we're supposed to do.
JOHNSON: Excuse me? It's what we're supposed to do?
CALLER: It's what we're supposed to do.
JOHNSON: What? Burn things down?
JOHNSON: But did they give you their rationale?
CALLER: 'Well, everything that belongs to Koreans, we burn it down.'
JOHNSON; Oh, boy.
LEWIS: That's crazy.
CALLER: I was explaining to my kids, you know, it's like, this ain't right. But at the same time, you know, I'm trying to explain to them ... They know what's happened with the 15-year-old girl, and what happened with Rodney King, and I'm trying to find out a rationale in the middle, to try to explain to them ... but I can't find it.
BOWLIN: The man made a very interesting point. He said he didn't have a neighborhood anymore. That's not true. The structures may not be there, but there's still brothers and sisters there, with you, for you. And for us.
CALLER: No, all the brothers and sisters I see, all they are doing is looting.
BOWLIN: What I'm saying is the mind, and the situation and the hysteria has basically put people in this 'Outer Limits' type of posture. And they're going to be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after, and the day after that.
CALLER: Listen to me, right now, as I speak to you, I'm hearing helicopters, I'm hearing fire engines ... What am I supposed to tell my kids when they go outside to play and all they smell is smoke?
JOHNSON: Well, let me just say this and we can wrap this one up. But let me put it to you this way. This may be the end of something, but it can also be the beginning of something. Tomorrow is another day, and beyond that, from what you say, you are obviously a very concerned parent, and like everyone else you're confused, like everyone else. But in the end I think you're going to find a way to explain it to your children, because you really, really want to. And I'm positive that you're going to come up with that answer.
CALLER: All they see is National Guard, in our -- yeah.
JOHNSON: Hello? We got a bad connection. We're going to have to cut this thing short. But I think that things are going to turn out alright for you because you really are a concerned citizen and a concerned parent, and that's a good start. You're going to have to put some thought behind it, it's not magical, and you're not going to have the right answer every time you need it. But I think you'll come to it.
JOHNSON: Thank you for calling.
BOWLIN: I suggest you go over some of the numbers again. Now there are at least 24 confirmed dead since the start of the riot. 3,000 calls were reported by the fire chief, he received 3,000 calls since the beginning. 6,000 National Guard troopers are expected to be in by tomorrow, the numbers are expected to be up to $6,000. And Gov. Wilson -- excuse me, not $6,000.
JOHNSON: I was going to say ...
BOWLIN: It comes from fatigue, that's where that comes from. 6,000 men. And also Gov. Wilson is expected to go to President Bush to ask for federal troops.
JOHNSON: Hmmm. You know, I don't know what to make of that, but OK. That's starts to get scary.
BOWLIN: Yeah, up to a certain level, because you're thinking: Army. You're thinking ... What are you going to mobilize, you've already got 6,000 National Guard. I think what happened was that they didn't anticipate, or for some reason, it wasn't sure they'd anticipated the growth of this. And it might stem from them going into Beverly Hills and the west side. Because if you remember, it was only 2,000 when half of Los Angeles was under siege, and now when that part of Los Angeles is under siege, it jumps up to 6,000.
JOHNSON: Oh, you know, we can't go to Beverly Center.
BOWLIN: Especially since that's built on a fault.
JOHNSON: Well I tell you what, we're gonna get back to the phones in just a bit. This is another edition ... another edition, let me get my words right, of The Front Page, 102.3, KJLH.
JOHNSON: 102.3 KJLH. With Howard Hewitt, and that's called, 'Jesus.' This is J.J. Johnson, 1:46 in the morning, I've got Brandon Bowlin in with me. Got Chris Lewis with me, and we're doing another special edition of the Front Page. Got some information to pass on to you here. I'm sure you're not going to be surprised that the George Howard and Phyllis Hyman concert at the Wiltern for Friday and Saturday has been canceled. It will be rescheduled. I'm sure that everyone can understand that.
I have a special medical hotline for everybody. This is for people who need general first aid information or hospital referrals, it is not intended to replace 911. If you need emergency service, you must call 911. But for general first aid and hospital referrals is 800-559-5252. That's 1-800-559-1212. Chris, what you got there?
LEWIS: OK. I got a gang of emergency numbers that you can call. Property damage, there's an 800 number you can call, 1-800-870-1929. Sheriff's information, 213-974-4211. There's a county fire department number, 213-881-2413. And a couple of numbers that were left here earlier ...I have one for the Compton ... the City of Compton, they have a general number for emergency services, that's 605-5657. And Sen. Watson has a number you can call also, 213-295-5788. Those are all the numbers we have there.
BOWLIN: The building across the street, which has been simmering and smoldering since it burned down to the ground, has just blown a gas main, gas line. I mean, it's up in the ... they just now turned it off, but it was up in the air. Close to 50 feet above the roof.
JOHNSON: I wonder how they get close enough to turn it off like that.
BOWLIN: Well, I'm sure there's a valve, somewhere down the street they can turn off. But that might turn off gas to the entire block, I don't know.
JOHNSON: Wow. Anyhow, let's go to the phones again. KJLH, hello, who's this?
CALLER: It's Jay.
JOHNSON: Hey, Jay. What's on your mind?
CALLER: First I'd like to start off by saying that I enjoy the Christian contemporary music that you play. You need to play more of it in your format, and not just in times of crisis like this.
CALLER: This isn't a racial thing. It's far beyond a human thing. It's a survival thing. Young brothers and sisters, you know, we have no sense of value and worth. I'm afraid for my life. And what I can see is that we have been generally passive people since we were slaughtered and massacred and brought over here to this nation, you know, before they created the great United Snakes of America. And it's time to arm ourselves, and protect our own. Because the government has already shown that we're still an eighth, like we were back in Jim Crow and all those types of days. We're still an eighth of a person, less than animals, and they're going to do whatever they want to do to us. And I'm tired of all these callers being surprised of all the things that are going on.
I don't condone all the breaking in stores and things of that nature. You know, they need to wake up and realize that the stores that they're gutting, those are stores they're gonna wish they didn't do that too, because most of them don't have cars to get around anyway.
JOHNSON: That's true.
CALLER: So now they're going to go to other neighborhoods and get harassed by the police even more, and it's not even called for. It wasn't even called for to burn down businesses. Evidently they didn't have a problem with them before. And all of the sudden there's a personal vendetta against the owners or whatever.
JOHNSON: OK, well thank you very much for your comment. Let's go to the next line. KJLH, who's this?
CALLER: Yeah, what's going on brother?
JOHNSON: Everything is uhh ... the way it is.
CALLER: This is Drew calling out of Pomona.
JOHNSON: OK, Drew.
CALLER: And I'm a graduate student out here. I have to say, I wasn't very surprised at the verdict, unfortunately. I think a lot of people weren't. And I hear a lot of people calling in and saying that the violence is disgusting and that it's wrong. But you've gotta look at the reasons why this occurred. This was not just the Rodney King thing. That was just the spark to start it off.
CALLER: This is from way back, from the decline in education in the inner city, to people not getting, you know, the right opportunity, and now they're going to take peoples' basic security away from them. You know, people are starting to say, I don't have a job, I can't get an education, and now I'm not even going to be safe with the police protecting me. I think that people are saying, what am I worth, what do I even have?
JOHNSON: Are you suggesting that it's overall a case of low self-esteem.
CALLER: I think that's a big part of it. I think that what I'm trying to say is that people's reaction is a product of this society. People are taught that unless their lifestyle is rich and famous, unless you drive a Mercedes or a BMW, you're nothing. We show the violence on the television and the movies. We show it's cool to be walking around carrying a gun, like it's Miami Vice, and then it's a surprised when this violence occurs. I think we've taught people this violence and now people are reacting to feeling helpless.
JOHNSON: So out priorities are wrong.
CALLER: Yeah. You can't sit there and tell people in the inner city, hey, this is against the law. What's the law to them?
CALLER: They're not even being protected in their own communities, so they figure, hey, I'm going to break into a store. What's the worst that can happen to me? I'll go to jail and get three meals a day. And get free Medicare. And dental. You know? So what we've done is that our system is just so screwed up ... Honestly I don't see a good solution to it.
JOHNSON: Maybe we need to put some more thought into it and perhaps we will come up with. ... I mean, you're thinking, and that's the beginning.
CALLER: Yeah, you know, I wish people would do that before they passed judgment so quick. Think about why this is happening. And realize, hey, if I were in that situation what would I do. That's what I sat here and thought about for a while, and I really don't know. I really can't say I wouldn't do that too.
JOHNSON: Hey man, you don't know that tonight. Perhaps you'll know it tomorrow, next month, keep on thinking, though, OK? And thank you for calling.
CALLER: All right, brother.
JOHNSON: All right, I am glad to hear guys call up who are thinking.
LEWIS: There you go.
JOHNSON: So what if we don't have the answer tonight. Me and Brandon and Chris are going to come up with the answer tonight, I don't think. Maybe you've got the answer, I don't know.
LEWIS: No, I don't have it.
JOHNSON: We'll keep on thinking about it.