I often tell people I weathered the LA Riots -- and most of them have no clue what that means. Nor do they understand why I fear mob uprisings (especially thick are those who are pushing for such uprisings). You really do want cops keeping a lid on things and you really don’t want to be anywhere that isn’t happening.
I'm watching a thread where anti-cop rhetoric is strong -- including singing the 'No cops! Let people sort things out themselves' song. Yeah, about that... I've seen what happens in those circumstances. It ain't pretty.
Here are some ruminations from a guy who has actually been on the ground when the shit hits the fan. Back in ‘92....
When the rioting came within two miles of my house, I spent the day sitting on my porch, smoking my pipe, reading with a shotgun on the table. To be more precise, a riot gun. Just so you know a pistol can be scary, but shotguns carry a very distinct message -- namely, “I ain’t playing.” (The survival rate with shotguns is waaaaaaaay lower than with pistols.) I wasn’t playing.
Let’s talk about ‘not playing’ What was not widely reported is on the other side of the LA city limit lines, police from different municipalities were geared up and waiting. Mini-riots tried to break out in multiple cities in the LA area, but the local PDs -- literally -- smashed them on the spot. Meanwhile, inside LA city limits, it was the withdrawal of the LAPD that both kept the damage localized to Los Angeles and allowed it to escalate.
This resulted in looters driving into LA from other cities to 'riot.'
Here's some more grist for the mill. The LA riots, contrary to popular perception were not just a "Black thaing." They may have started that way, but at the end, not so much. LA has been described as a 3 piece suit -- Brown, Black and White. You saw Men’s Wearhouse in the rioting and looting. What is of particular interest is how the established Mexican Community very clearly said "It ain't us, it's the Salvadorians, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans” (newcomers). Which if you watch the raw video feeds and can tell the facial differences of these ethnicities you can see the Chicano claim holds water. The importance of this is which ‘communities’ had roots and owned homes.
At the same time, REALLY pay attention to when the neighborhoods themselves turned back the rioters.
I want to point something out. The LA Riots are considered the worst (in cost, death and injury) in US history. Yes the LAPD lost control -- but again, the 'idea' was to pull back and let things calm down. The hypothesis being that since the Black Community was pissed at the police, no cops present wouldn't provoke them.
(That's the official version, the actual politics of the situation were ... well, somewhat more complicated. But let's stick with the 'we're going to pull back so as not to further antagonize' version.)
Shit exploded instead.
Official numbers of the dead vary. I've heard 54, I've heard over 60. (It depends on how you count.) Over 2000 is the reported numbers injured. While some sources say 10 people were killed by the police, it is generally assumed that most of the deaths and injuries were committed by the rioters. It’s an easy assumption to make; take a look at this clip ...
(Fidel Lopez 3:10, Reginald Denny, 11:50)
Here's the issue with official numbers. They DON'T tell us how many rioters/ looters were killed or injured in/by 'neighborhoods' rebuffing them.
I tell you this because when you watched live broadcasting of the riots, you repeatedly saw rioters being turned back by coming under fire by someone protecting their property. I can guarantee you they weren't 'warning shots.' (In Koreatown, there were snipers on the roof.)
What else is not widely reported is that when the National Guard finally did roll into town it was done in a way so as NOT to increase the body count. Yes. You heard me.
The broadcast media and helicopters flying over the city were sending the message "The National Guard is coming in at 6 pm tonight. Get yo' ass off the streets before then."
The rioters being given a chance to 'go home' -- BY THE GOVERNMENT -- is what kept the body count low. This even though it allowed rioting to continue for another 24 or so hours. Had the national guard done what they did in Detroit, Watts and Kent State -- there would have been blood in the gutters. That’s because when troops come rolling in and someone in the mob shoots or lobs shit ... the mob loses.
I tell you all of this because there are no simple answers to this. Police cause problems. Police prevent problems. Civilians cause problems. Civilians prevent problems. But what can be clearly stated -- and needs to be understood -- is cops, unlike civilians -- have rules of engagement, limits and use of force restrictions.
Civilians don't. That’s the other way bodies start stacking up.