April 29th 1992 Twenty five years ago was a dark time in our city. At the time I worked in Koreatown at Wilshire and Normandie. They had beat up Reginald Denny the night before but the next morning it seemed calmer when we went to work. It was an Illusion.
My car was in the shop at the dealers the morning of April 30th when it really got going so I got dropped off at work. We were on the 11th floor and we could see all the way around. By 10 am we had fires burning in all directions around the building. We kept calling HQ to let us go home but up in San Francisco they just didn’t get the urgency of the situation.
People who lived in South Central, started leaving anyway. One woman’s son had been beat up the night before and she was not coping and they said she could go home. Finally the police decided every building on Wilshire had to be evacuated and the dumb bunnies told everyone to go at once. My boss told Marshall he had to drive me to my mechanic in Alhambra because he lived that way. Marshall was a nerd with no social skills and often didn’t think before he spoke. This was not going to be a fun ride.
They were building the Red Line at the time and Wilshire had two fewer lanes and a major traffic jam as everyone poured out of their office buildings at once. We got stuck right outside our building across from the Big 5 and people were looting it and running out with guns and ammo. About this time I really discovered I did not want to be in a car with Marshall. Marshall was Chinese. He started yelling at the looters. “I’m not Korean. I’m Chinese” as if someone was going to care at that point. He started driving to Chinatown because he wanted to see if it was alright and about this time I started yelling at him to just get us out of downtown. People were running down the sidewalks breaking windows, looting stores and setting things on fire all around us.
Quite frankly, it was absolutely terrifying and one of the longest rides in my life even though it probably only took an hour total. At the time I was living in Pasadena, by the time I got to the car dealer about 1 pm I was just praying my car was ready so I could go home and hide. I went to the store to get supplies and prepared to hunker down. I was glad I did because that night someone burned the little corner store down the block just because it had a Korean manager and they tried to loot the Circuit City that was on the other side of the freeway. I spent most of that night sitting on the floor of my living room with the cat in the dark watching what was going on the tv and when that got too much turned it off and listened to all the sirens around
That was April 30th and Beltane was the next day. The coven was calling each other all day to make sure everyone was safe and were we going to get together that night.
There was a curfew instituted and everyone was urged strongly to stay home but the covenstead was less than a mile away and we all lived close to it in those days. We used to deal with things like this by making art so we decided to do a healing piece and got our large pieces of white paper and crayons. We drew the city on fire and drew around our hands to show healing energy radiating outward for peace. I don’t know if it had any effect but it did feel calming. Driving the short way home it felt better. The next day was the weekend. So I stayed home and just talked with people on the phone including my freaked out parents. This was way before cell phones so it was the radio, tv and landlines to get news.
I drove to work with a friend on Monday and we got sent home because the Red Line construction hadn’t stopped with the riots and they had cut through the gas and electrical lines to our building. We didn’t end up going back to work until Wednesday. We had almost a week off work. Driving to work past burned out buildings and cars was really stomach churning. It seemed worse than an earthquake since it was human caused.
Those police officers should have been convicted and Gates should have been removed long before he resigned. People in LA know it could happen again and it doesn’t sit easy on our city of Angels.