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London Riots Recall 1992 Los Angeles Riots

The looting and burning began in our neighborhood that day. This would grow increasingly weird; a big woman brought her three little kids with her to do a spot of looting at the liquor store across the street.

The violence, social distress and criminality in London this week made me think of many things, but mostly how alike people are around the world. Even if we don’t speak the same language or live on the same continent, money, class and race-based disparity is practiced across the globe and so is the rebellion of those constructs. A site I like called The Awl published a piece where the writer, Maria Bustillos, remembered the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the court verdict where the police accused of beating Rodney King severely were declared not guilty, despite the video tape depicting their vicious actions. Here’s her play-by-play account of these fiery days and you might be surprised how similar it is to Miss London’s recount of this week’s madness in Britain.

“The looting and burning began in our neighborhood that day. This would grow increasingly weird; a big woman brought her three little kids with her to do a spot of looting at the liquor store across the street. There was a lot of broken glass around, and clearly the authorities were completely overtaxed, nowhere to be seen, so these little kids looked very vulnerable to me, and I was afraid for them. Yet there was a party atmosphere out there, too, a terrible excitement. These kids—the youngest must have been six or seven—came out of the store, loaded down with bags of stuff. The mom stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and popped open a bag of stolen potato chips and ate them placidly as she walked along. Not only was she not scared, she was totally calm. Having fun, even. An astonishing, indelible sight: a tall, majestic woman in a kitenge and matching turban, sashaying down the middle of the street with two six-packs of malt liquor. Less than a quarter of a mile away, a whole huge shopping center was in the process of burning to the ground.”

Read the rest at The Awl.

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