May 4th, 1992

Worst of Los Angeles Riots Ends

The 1992 Los Angeles Riots erupted on April 29, 1992, after police officers who were videotaped beating Rodney King, a black man, during a traffic stop were acquitted of criminal charges. Initially peaceful protests grew larger and turned violent, as crowds looted from nearby stores, vandalized vehicles, and set fires.

Television news helicopters broadcasted much of the riots, including the violent beating of Reginald Denny, a white truck driver dragged from his vehicle while stopped at an intersection and severely beaten by an angry mob of black residents. Police and 2000 California national guard troops responded to continued unrest, looting, and fires on April 30, but by May 1 order still had not been restored and state officials sought federal help.

On May 1, Rodney King held a press conference urging peace. That evening, President George H.W. Bush gave a national, televised address denouncing the riot's "random terror and lawlessness" and announcing that he had directed the Justice Department to investigate possible federal prosecution of the acquitted officers. Many national guard and military troops flowed into Los Angeles over the next two days and the violence was mostly under control on May 2 when 30,000 people attended a local peace rally.

Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley lifted the emergency dawn-to-dusk curfew on May 4, 1992, acknowledging the official end of the riots, but scattered violence continued for several days and the city maintained a military presence for weeks. The riots resulted in approximately 58 deaths, more than 3000 buildings destroyed, and upwards of $1 billion in property damage.