Twenty years after the Los Angeles Riots — revisiting Hyungwon Kang's iconic photos - Pictures of the Day - April 28, 2012
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots. On April 29, 1992, at the intersection of Florence and Normandie in south Los Angeles, a mostly black mob, enraged at the acquittal of four Los Angeles policemen in the beating of black motorist Rodney King, dragged white truck driver Reginald Denny from his cab and beat him unconscious while news helicopters hovered overhead.
The Korean-American community, alarmed that police had abandoned Koreatown, formed a volunteer security group to respond to shop owners pleading for help during the second night of the riots. Gun battles between shop owners and looters were captured on live television news feeds.
The gory images helped incite six days of fires and looting throughout the city that led to 53 deaths and an estimated $1 billion U.S. in property damage. According to Professor Ed Chang of UC Riverside, 2,280 Korean American-owned stores were either totally destroyed, looted, or suffered losses with total damage of $400 million U.S.
Photographer Hyungwon Kang, then a staffer with the Los Angeles Times, covered the riots. The Times won a Pulitzer Prize in the Spot News category for the riot coverage that year. Here are nine of his photos:
Businesses continue to burn out of control during the third day of the Los Angeles Riots in Koreatown on May 1, 1992.
College student Eddie Lee (front) lays dead from gunshot wounds while three injured Korean American volunteers are interviewed by police officers during the second night of the riots, near the intersection of 3rd Street and Hobart Boulevard on May 1, 1992. The youths had been responding to a call made on Radio Korea warning of approaching looters at the Kang-Suh Myon-Oak noodle restaurant, and were pulled out of their vehicle after it came under fire.
Cornelius Pettus, owner of Payless market, throws a bucket of water on the flames at neighboring business Ace Glass during the first night.
An armed Korean American volunteer guards California market from approaching looters during the second day.
Onlookers watch as an electronics shop on Olympic Boulevard burns during the third day.
Looters walk away with goods removed from shops at a shopping center on Vermont Avenue during the third day.
Police officers investigate a body found in a vehicle outside Ralph's supermarket during the third day.
Police officers arrest a Korean American for possession of a firearm on Olympic Boulevard near Vermont Avenue during the third day.
People march through Koreatown, calling for peace, on May 2, 1992.
To read more about the riots from the perspective of the Korean-American community, there is a thorough timeline of events from survivors of the riots at iamkoream.com.