04/29/2012 11:38 am ET Updated May 07, 2012

LA Riots 20th Anniversary: Rodney, Reginald, The Riots & Rebuilding (VIDEO)

Twenty years ago today, four police officers were acquitted on all charges in the beating of black motorist Rodney King, and Los Angeles was soon on fire. After three days of some of the worst race riots America had ever seen, 55 people were dead, 2,325 people reported injuries, 1,573 buildings had been damaged or destroyed, and the total cost of the riots was estimated at $1 billion.

This past week, news outlets from across Los Angeles County have commemorated the 20th anniversary milestone with scores of pieces that range from a celebration of how far the city has come since the riots to questions about the economic woes still plaguing South LA.

At HuffPost Los Angeles, we published a round up of the most shocking videos from the LA Riots, as well as a story about how community recording has empowered victims and changed policing for the better.

We also took a look at how the LA riots have impacted Los Angeles culture. We compiled 10 references to the riots in pop culture and took a look at VH1's upcoming rock doc, "Uprising: Hip Hop & the LA Riots," about the connection between rap music and rage among South Central residents.

On the blogs, KoreAm writer Alex Ko celebrated the resurrection of Koreatown but confessed that he still can't bear to return to parts of town where his parents' businesses once stood. Marqueece Harris-Dawson, president of Community Coalition in South LA, called attention to the fact that the median income for black and latino families in the area has decreased since 1990. Author Earl Ofari Hutchinson wrote about the tremendous strides that the Los Angeles Police Department has taken since the riots, and journalist Leslie Griffith blamed the overhead newscopters, in part, for fanning the flames of rioters and giving them an audience for which to perform.

On that note, stay tuned Monday for our interview with Bob Tur and Marika Gerrard, the then-husband and wife team who captured unforgettable footage of the riots, including the beating of white truck driver Reginald Denny, from their helicopter.

For now, here's a round up of some of the coverage that caught our eye as we looked back on the LA riots this week.


  • Rodney King is happy. This interview with the Associated Press details the ups and downs his life has taken since the beating and verdict. From reality TV star to record company executive to boxing match promoter, King says, "This part of my life is the easy part now."
  • Rodney King has a new book coming out, called The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion To Redemption. Neon Tommy covers the panel King spoke at during the recent LA Times Festival of Books, where he said, “I was one of the lucky ones."
  • Did you know that one of the jurors at the Rodney King trial is half-black? The Ventura County Star went on a mission to track down all 12 jurors and found that Henry King Jr. (no relation), who has blue eyes and light skin, has a black father.

REGINALD DENNY, RECLUSE: In the years since his 1992 beating at the hands of four South Central residents on Florence and Normandie avenues, Denny has withdrawn from the spotlight to live a quiet life in Arizona. He refuses all media interviews, but that hasn't stopped others from reflecting on his assault.

  • Titus Murphy tells about why he and his girlfriend decided to get up off their couch and help Reginald Denny, a stranger. It's just one part of Los Angeles magazine's coverage of the LA Riots, which includes a timeline, rare courtroom sketches of the Rodney King trial and a KCRW playlist.
  • Henry Watson, one of the four men convicted for Reginald Denny's beating, attempts to explain why he took part in the assault. Now the owner of a successful limo company, he tells the Associated Press about the time he offered to send a limo to Denny so that they could return to Florence and Normandie and then talk it over at a bar. Denny declined.
  • In the VH1 rock doc, "Uprising: Hip Hop & the LA Riots," Watson is more frank. "There's no way that 400 years of the white folks' bullshit is going to be justified by this one ass whooping," he says in the film. Read more about it on The Huffington Post.





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