LA 92 is a film that marks the twenty-fifth-anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which were the result of four white police officers being acquitted of any crime after being caught on tape assaulting Rodney King in 1991. Adding fuel to the flames was a light sentence that was handed down to a shop owner who shot an innocent teenage girl to death.
With the use of nothing but archival news, police, and home video footage, this film is unique in how it presents the events chronologically as they unfolded at the time. We the viewer are transported to several key locations in Los Angeles and introduced to the people who would come to define that period of time in the city’s history. As the title suggests most of the film is focused on the riots of 92′ but we are also provided with the essential context needed to understand the general zeitgeist at the time. This comes in the form of a long history of violence which has its roots in the Watts riots of 65′. We witness first hand what happens when a community is abused for decades by those who are tasked with protecting the very people they are mistreating.
Right from the get-go, we are presented with the institutional racism that has plagued the police force since it’s inception. A toxic recording of a police officer is heard where he casually using the n-word over the radio whilst describing several male suspects, it sums up the mindset of those in power at the time. As the police officers responsible for beating Rodney King are acquitted we witness how arguments outside the courthouse quickly turn into full-blown chaos on the streets of South Central L.A.
Towards the end of the film, it starts to become clear that LA 92 isn’t just a documentary about one moment in time, but rather the history of America as a whole. One bystander who is interviewed states “I don’t think it’ll ever stop, really.” and now in 2020 with the recent murder of George Flyod by the police it would appear that this man sadly remains correct.
Directed by: T. J. Martin , Daniel Lindsay