All across South Los Angeles, observances were held to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the civil uprising, which occurred from April 29 to May 4, 1992.
The defining event, triggered by the acquittal of acquittal of four White LAPD officers charged with the horrific beating of Black motorist Rodney King, resulted in the deaths of 63 people along with the property damage totaling $1 billion.
As the city embarked on rebuilding neighborhoods destroyed by fire, many community leaders and law enforcement officials united to heal emotional wounds by establishing relationships. The 77th Street Area Community-Police Advisory Board (C-PAB), who spearheaded one of those efforts, gathered with C-PAB representatives from South L.A. to the San Pedro to reflect on the progress of the improved communication over the last three decades.
An official ceremony was held on April 28 in the courtyard of the 77th Street Police Station. With Denise K. Smith, 77th Street C-PAB co-chair, serving as emcee, the crowd of 50+ shared insight about the significance of the occasion.
Marveling on the C-PAB’s advancement, Pastor Tyrese Cagle said, “Thirty years ago, we didn’t have community engagement. We didn’t have community talking to law enforcement and law enforcement leaning on community. So, you should give yourselves a pat on the back.”
Bishop Grover Durham, a member of Southeast C-PAB, noted, “I’m excited to be here because now I see things from a different perspective. Thirty years ago, I was anti-police. Now, today I’m pro-life and to God be the glory. We have a group that prays everyday for the police department. We stand behind our officers.”
Insisting that the LAPD of 1992 “no longer exists,” Durham said police officers accompany him to give food to the poor and that he witnessed officers “taking money from their pockets” to assist people in need.
“Anything I can do to make your job easier, let me know. It takes all of us working together,” Durham said.
Dr. Kathy Cash of Determined To Know Christ Ministries recalled that she was working in West L.A. when the unrest started. With her mother on her mind, she attempted to drive to Slauson Avenue and Figuroa Street to her mom’s residence.
“But, as I was approaching Western Avenue, I couldn’t go any farther [east]. All I could do was go back,” said Cash. She returned to her employer’s home in Bel-Air and watched the incident on television. The following morning, she was able to reach her mother, who was fine.
“When we look at what happened 30 years ago – from then to now – it’s about love,” remarked Cash. “The Lord gave us two commandments – love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. That covers everything. We’re not going to get anywhere unless we have love.”
The program speakers included Deputy Chief Gerald A. Woodyard, LAPD South Bureau commanding officer; Mona Sutton, Harbor Area C-PAB co-chair; Bernita Walker, 77th Street Area C-PAB and clergy member; Pastor Tyrese Cagle, 77th Street Area C-PAB and clergy member; Pastor Clyde Powe, United In Peace Rides; Commander Jay Mastick, South Bureau assistant commanding officer; and
James Moysonete, Southwest C-PAB member.
Following the ceremony, the group traveled to the corner of Florence and Normandie, the flashpoint of the uprising. After offering prayers and brief remarks, the members released dozens of white balloons to symbolize the group’s commitment to peace.