Burn Motherfucker, Burn! (2017) - full transcript

Explores the roots of civil unrest in California and the relationship between African Americans and LAPD.

♪ bluesy guitar music ♪


Everyone knew years ago

that the Negro would
have to be given equality,

but in the South,

knowing Negroes
as we think we do,

we realized it would take time.

It's...it's been compared to--

to straightening teeth.

It takes a slow,
steady pressure.

You can't do it with a hammer.

Mr. Hastie,
what did you think we were

before you began to think of us
as human beings?

Well, in a--in a way,

we thought of you almost
as a very superior pet,

something we had
to take care of.


♪ Jane's Addiction's
"Pigs in Zen" playing ♪

♪ rock music ♪

♪ Yeah ♪

[men shouting] White power!

- ♪ Yeah, yeah, yeah ♪
- [man] White power!

[news anchor]
Backcountry refugees...

♪ Pig goes in the mud ♪

♪ When he tires ♪

♪ Pigs in zen ♪

♪ Pigs in zen ♪

♪ Pig is nude ♪

[Connie] "We're here to keep
the niggers in place."

♪ Unashamed ♪

♪ Pigs in zen ♪

♪ Pigs in zen ♪

♪ I'm talking about the pig ♪

Seventy-five police killed--

of my followers.

♪ The pig, uh ♪

♪ P-p-p-p-pig ♪

♪ Oh, yeah, a goddamn pig ♪

♪ Let's go ♪

[all] ♪ We shall overcome ♪

[William] And if you think
I'm going down there

and pleading
with a bunch of hoodlums

to obey the law...no.


[news anchor]
The United States government

out to systematically
commit genocide

on the Black Panther Party.

♪ Pig mounts sow ♪

♪ When he's wound ♪

[man] We have got to rebel.

♪ Pigs in zen ♪

♪ Pigs in zen ♪

♪ Pig eats shit ♪

[man] You a gang member.

♪ But only when he hungers ♪

♪ Pig's in zen,
I know, the pig's in zen ♪

♪ Too much ♪

♪ I'm talking about the pigs ♪

♪ The pig ♪

[Norwood] The video camera

♪ The pig, uh ♪

[woman] A modern-day lynching.

[Cle] The best three days
of my fuckin' life.

♪ The goddamn pig ♪

♪ Let's go ♪

♪ It gets sucked from my eye ♪

[indistinct police
radio chatter]

♪ Like an eagle's claw ♪

♪ The pig ♪

♪ Pig ♪

♪ Pig ♪

♪ P-p-p-p-pig ♪

[man] We gonna burn
the goddamn city down.

[woman] All right!

[people shouting]

[man] Damn, though.

[shouting indistinctly]

[Taser firing]

[woman] He's still tasing him,

- [man] Hell, no!
- [gunshot]

- Whoa!
- [gunshots]

Whoa! Oh, my God!

[man] God damn.

- Oh, fuck.
- [sirens wailing]

Oh, fuck.

- [man] Oh, my God.
- [man] Fuck.

- [man] Oh, shit.
- [man] Motherfucker.

- [man] Oh, my God.
- Motherfucker.

[man] Oh, my God.

[man] Motherfucker.

[man] Motherfucker.


[man] They just killed that man.

They just shot that
motherfuckin' man like that.

Hey! Hey!

[all shouting at once]

[man] Y'all shot that man.

[overlapping shouting]

[Sacha] So do you know much
about the history

of the Los Angeles
Police Department?

You know, I--Sacha,
I do know a little bit about it.

LA, actually all
of the West Coast,

is really bad
about keeping its history,

so you know, some of it is--
some of it's a little bit lost.

We're an organization
with about 145 years of history.

You know, this was
a small pueblo, Los Angeles,

built on a river not very far
from where we sit right now.

Originally it was
a very Western town.

♪ exciting music ♪

[Mike] It had a very violent


Homicide rates
in early Los Angeles

were much higher
than they ever have been since,

and so it was from the start
a very violent place.

I'm still terrified by the LAPD.

The institution itself is

a fundamentally evil institution

that is only in this day
partially reformed.

It was rebuilt explicitly
after the Second World War

to enforce racial restrictions.

♪ upbeat music ♪

When I was 17 years old,

the Los Angeles Police
Department changed my life.

[man] This man is the symbol
of the finest police officer

in the world.

It was at a Halloween dance,

and a fight broke out.

LAPD came, and I guess

I wasn't moving fast enough
or whatever,

but the guy hit me
with the billy club.

[man] Remember,
as police officers,

we may only use
that amount of force necessary

to make an arrest.

I was beat by maybe nine police,

worse than Rodney King.

I must have stayed
in the hospital

for maybe a couple of months

before I even went to court.

They didn't want any judge
to see the

condition that I was in.

When I got out of juvenile hall,

I was saying "Yes, sir.

No, ma'am.
Thank you."

My--my family
didn't recognize me, you know?

It changed me.

I was wrong,

so I got what I deserved.

[man] But you think you deserved
to get beat

worse than Rodney King
for moving a little bit slow?

Well...no, I don't,

but I was resisting.

[Malcolm X] Let us remember
that we are not brutalized

because we're Baptists.

We're not brutalized
because we're Methodists.

We're not brutalized
because we're Muslims.

We're not brutalized
because we're Catholics.

We're brutalized because
we are black people in America.

[cheers and applause]

[news anchor]
In the spring of 1962,

a gun battle
between Negroes and police

outside the Los Angeles Mosque
of the Muslims,

a sect built around the belief

that complete separation
of the races

is the only hope for America.

In that gunfight,
one Negro was killed,

14 wounded.

[Mike] In the early '60s,
friends of Malcolm X

set up a mosque in Los Angeles.

One of the leading members of
the mosque worked in a laundry,

so he would bring clothes
in the trunk of his car.

He was parked about a block
away from the mosque,

and he was getting out,

and somebody came over
to help him,

and the LAPD stopped them,
harassed them,

and then began
to knock them around.

More cops came.

The cops invaded
the mosque itself,

and one cop was shot
by another cop accidentally.

The cops went mad.

They lined Muslims up,

and they shot them
in the genitals,

and people were killed,

including one of the
acquaintances of Malcolm X.

Malcolm X wanted to retaliate

and take out cops.

Elijah Muhammad thought

that the nation
would lose everything

if it did that.

Seventy-five police came over

to kill all that they could

of my--of my followers

in Mosque Number 27.

Think over that.

[news anchor]
Some Los Angeles citizens

believe the Muslim shootings

so crystallized Negro feelings

that from that point,
April 1962,

big trouble was inevitable.

[Malcolm X] Two of the brothers
were shot in the back.

Two of them were shot--

excuse the expression--

through the penis.

[crowd murmuring]

And I, for one,
as a Muslim, believe

that the white man
is intelligent enough.

If he were made to realize

how black people really feel
and how fed up we are,

without that old compromising
sweet talk--

stop sweet-talking him.

Tell him how you feel,
and let him know

that if he's not ready
to clean his house up...

If he's not ready
to clean his house up,

he shouldn't have a house.

It should catch on fire
and burn down.

[cheers and applause]

All right, panel,
a brilliant beginning.

Now let's see what you can do
with our second challenger.

Will you sign in, please, sir?


Bill Parker, is that right, sir?


[news anchor] One man who has
played an important role

in raising the Los Angeles
police officers

to a professional status

is Police Chief William Parker.

He has been able to create
divisions within the department

to deter the Los Angeles
rising crime rate.

[Alex] William Parker, who was

the law and order chief
of the LAPD,

was probably one of the most
racist police chiefs

that the LAPD has ever had.

[Connie] If you go way back
to the beginning of LAPD,

it started out with that
Southern, racist mentality.

"We're here to keep the niggers
in place."

he imposed a military culture.

[man] The Los Angeles
Police Department,

through years
of self-evaluation

and constant improvement,
has raised itself

to a high professional standing
in the community.

But in militarizing them,

they didn't get rid
of the racism,

and so the racism took on

an occupying force quality.

The white deputy chief
who got assigned to Watts--

his unofficial title
was "Nigger Inspector."

[Alex] He recruited officers
that were from the South.

He recruited officers
that he knew hated black people.

[dog barking]

And he didn't care about
policing the black community

in a way to make everyone safe.

He just wanted
to police the community

to keep them there,

and to keep the whites
over here safe.

Los Angeles is the finest place
in the world for the Negro,

because he has
the greatest opportunity here,

on a broad basis,

than he would anywhere else
in the world.


[man] Los Angeles had
a reputation, at one point,

of being a good city
for black culture.

For instance, late 1940s,
Central Avenue,

the center of black culture

and a totally integrated scene.

Central Avenue
was the drag for us.

I mean, that's where you had
all the entertainment.

That's where all
the entertainers came

and they lived, 'cause they
couldn't live anywhere else.

You're talking about
Billie Holiday.

You're talking about
Nat King Cole.

You're talking about
Sammy Davis Jr.

When Parker became
chief of police,

he launched a campaign.

He would arrest white women

going to clubs
on Central Avenue

for prostitution.

When I was a young teenager,

the center of the world
was a place

called Dolphins of Hollywood,

greatest record store
in the world.

Everybody came there.

Parker actually laid siege
to it.

He had cops stationed outside

to turn people away
if they were white.

♪ upbeat drum rhythm ♪

[Perry] Compton was all white.

Southgate was all white.

Huntington Park was all white,

and Bell was all white.

Vernon was all white.

That was on the other side
of Alameda, the tracks.

On this side of the tracks

is where they allowed
black people to live.

From Central to Broadway,

back to Imperial to Alameda.

[Jeff] When the highway system
gets built up

during the 1950s and the 1960s,

they're meant to be able
to allow people

to get into the downtown
and out of the downtown area.

The suburbs
are increasingly built up

all along
these different arteries.

White flight basically begins
during the 1940s,

and what that means is

that who's left
in the inner cities

are basically people of color.

♪ upbeat music ♪


[news anchor] Watts is a ghetto
but not a slum,

as the term is known
in older cities.

There are streets of trim,
lower-middle-class homes,

and there are squalid areas
of condemned houses

with people living in them.

Two thirds of the adults
have less than

a high school education.

One in eight is illiterate.

Watts has the lowest
average income rate

in Los Angeles County:
$4,000 per year

compared with more
than $8,000 per year

for the white community.

They crowd together,
these backcountry refugees,

a thousand new ones
every month

pouring into Los Angeles.

And they find
in the land of golden promise

that there still are
white lawmen,

white merchants,

white landlords.

[Jeff] Watts in the mid-'60s
is fully overcrowded,

and what you see
is Los Angeles police

literally trying
to figure out ways

to contain black folks
and people of color

in their neighborhoods.

There was this ideal

that African Americans
can migrate to LA

and escape the racism
from the South, but what--

what they didn't realize was
that whites were immigrating

to Los Angeles
from those same cities,

from those same communities.

They wanted to keep black folks
in our place.

We couldn't go off of this
boundary and this boundary,

and the police were basically
used to keep us under control.

Gangs were formed, in a sense,
to protect us, you know,

from those who would come in
and prey on the community

like the Spook Hunters,
you know,

which was a group of white boys
out of Compton.

You know, they used to come down

and prey on folks
in the neighborhood.

The Spook Hunters is the one
that's the most infamous one,

because they had
that leather jacket

with the African-American
on the back of the jacket

with a noose around his neck,
which seems pretty crazy,

but that's what a lot of the
guys from the 1950s tell us.

They would catch us by ourself

and jump out and rat-pack us.

So that was the start
of the Slauson,

the Businessman,

Rebel Rousers,

the Gladiators.

It was protection

for our black people.


[Dee Dee] One day,
I was driving down the street,

and I saw they had these

six young African-American men,

you know, maybe 16 to 18.

They had 'em just standing
on the sidewalk.

"Hands on your head," you know,
"Put your hands on your head."

Sometimes they make 'em
put their hands on the hot car

or "Lay down,"
lay down on the ground.

"Lay on your belly,"
you know, that racist behavior.

So I pulled over,
and I get out of my car.

I see this happening,

and the police said to me,

"Who are you?
Are you their mother?"

I said, "Yes."

And so the kids looked at me,
you know,

and they--they were like,
"Why did you get out your car?"

You know,
"Are you related to them?"

I said, "I'm the mother
of a nation and a universe."

You know,
I'm all of their mothers,

and he said, "Shuffle your feet
and move on,

or you're going to jail
for loitering."

When I was with the Los Angeles
Police Department,

I worked in South-Central LA.

I-I knew a lot of the people
who lived there,

and they--they depended on the
Los Angeles Police Department

to have any kind
of decent quality of life.

[Danny] It was a horrible time.

You didn't see lynchings

of the sort that we were
sort of familiar with

and outraged about
in the South,

but it was the same thing,
as it was a dead black man,

or it was
a violated black woman.

You weren't on the plantation,

but you were--
you know, you were in your car.

I mean, I can remember a time
when they pulled me and my wife

and my son over,
and just treated us awfully.

The question is,
how many slaps in the face

can a community take?

The complaint
that you hear everywhere

is that the Negro is not getting
the same treatment

from the police
as the white, and--

Well, I think that--I know,

but I'm getting
a little bit weary of that,

and I think perhaps
the best thing to do

is just to pull the police
out of the area.

I've offered to do that
again and again,

but you see how quickly all--
they come back and say,

"We can't afford to have that,"
because you must remember--

and-and this is the thing
you must think of

when you get
this vicious canard--

is that the great majority
of the victims of Negro crime

are Negroes.

[Perry] August of 1965.

It was hot.

I'm talking about,
it was...whoo!

[news anchor] Law enforcement
authorities say that heat,

intense heat, irritates a man,

makes him more violent.

The tension was--
it was mounting up.

♪ percussive music ♪


[Jeff] The spark for the unrest

comes one August afternoon.

The Frye brothers,
who have been at a party--

they've been drinking
a little bit.

They're speeding
down the highway,

and they start getting chased by
a California highway policeman.

They end up stopping
very close to home,

and a confrontation begins

between the police
and the brothers.

[Perry] We seen the police
pull Marquette over.

We heard the officers calling
him all kind of "niggers"

and all this stuff.

And his mother stayed right
around the corner here on Towne,

so she was coming.

She was raving,
saying really at Marquette,

"I told you," you know,

"Don't be drinking" and this--

but her whole thing was

for the officer not to impound
that 1955 Buick,

and the officer--
he was gonna let Marquette go.

Then these other two
racist police pulled up.

And the LAPD does their usual

aggressive behavior.

Marquette's mother jumped
on the back of the officer.

They got to going at it.

They finally got Marquette,

Ronald, and Rena
in the police car

and drove off,

but the highway patrol
was still here

waiting on the tow truck

to tow the 1955 Buick.

A sister by the name
of Joyce Gaines did hair,

and she had on a smock

that made her look
like she was pregnant.

We were exchanging words
and telling him,

"Don't impound the car, man."

Officer said, "Man, to hell
with you black niggers."

Took her and slammed her
against the car.

When they slammed her
against the car,

man, all hell broke loose.

♪ intense rock music ♪


[indistinct police radio]

[news anchor] It began
with police and rioters

clashing on a hot
Wednesday night.

Some believe it could
have been stopped right then

if law officers moved in
in force

and sealed off the area.


I was a young police officer
working the Watts area,

and the riots actually started
on my beat.

It was as close to anarchy
as I've ever seen

anywhere at any time.

[news anchor]
It was the most widespread,

most destructive racial
violence in American history.

White people driving
through the riot area

were considered fair game,

whether young or old,

men or women.

Their cars were battered,

the drivers stoned, kicked,
and beaten,

and the cars were burned.

The mobs might groan
and curse in disappointment

when a white got away

and then cheer
like a football crowd

when a car went up in flames.


[Danny] White people try
to always call it a riot.

It wasn't a riot.

You know, it was a rebellion
against oppression.

A riot is when, you know,
you see these white folks

after a football game,
they're pulling down the--

the goalposts.

This was about people whose--

had reached the boiling point
in terms of the oppression

that we were feeling.

There was no way to contain it.

The riot, I think,
opened a lot of people's eyes.

You know, I was very young
then, and I guess

I always sort of watched
The Song of the South

and those kind of things
and figured all the people

in South-Central LA were happy.

♪ Zip-a-dee-doo-dah ♪

♪ Zip-a-dee-ay ♪

♪ Wonderful feeling,
wonderful day ♪

And it's all of a sudden
occurred to me,

it doesn't look
like they're that happy.

♪ rock music ♪

[Perry] And to retaliate,
it was a good feeling.

It was a really good feeling.

[news anchor] More than 1,500
people were in the streets.

Fifteen citizens injured,
19 officers hurt,

31 arrested, 12 juveniles.

More than 100 police rushed
to the area,

sealing off eight square blocks
in an effort at quarantine.

The rioting subsided,
then began all over again

shortly before dawn.

♪ mellow music ♪


[James] I got up that morning,

and I went to
the neighborhood playground.

I could see smoke coming up
from across Central Avenue.

When I got home,
my grandmother told me

that I could not cross
Central Avenue

because of the riots.

And the riots had came
down Central Avenue from Watts

all the way onto South-Central
Los Angeles,

and we need to stay
in the house and be protected.

My uncle, who was
a street-type person--

he came into the house,
and he had about six hats

that he had gotten
off of Central Avenue

when they were looting.

[news anchor]
Now in the daylight hours too,

the shattered section
of South Los Angeles,

a Negro neighborhood torn
by two nights of rioting,

left battered and bloodied--

now the looters, the pillaging.

I saw a lot of people that had,
you know,

three and four televisions
and other, you know,

things like that
that, you know,

really didn't amount
to a hill of beans

compared to what we lost.

[news anchor] What had been
skirmishing before

between police
and hit-run Negro groups

became a wholesale exercise
in stealing and burning.

[William] What do you want
the policemen to do?

Do you want to mass them
in there for what purpose?

Of pinning everybody down, or--
or what?

[man] No, I'm simply asking you
to explain what--

what the thinking of the police
is--I have no--

Well, the thinking
of the police is,

they have a city to protect,

and they can't turn
all the men into Watts

and allow all these--
the rest of the 450 square miles

to be open season to every--

every petty criminal
and burglar in town.

[man] Do you think someone
like Martin Luther King

should be down there?

No, King doesn't--
we've got local residents here.

King doesn't put out all
the fires in the United States.

There are some local Negroes
here that are--

that are our leaders
in these situations.

For us to continue to try
and meet violence with violence

is the wrong way, that's all,
pure and simple.

See, and I'm gonna
tell you something.

Tonight, there's gonna be
another one,

whether you like it or not.

- [overlapping shouting]
- No, no. Wait, wait.

- Listen. Listen.
- [man] No, no, no.

See, they--we--

we the Negro people down here

have gotten completely fed up,

and you know what
they gonna do tonight?

They don't care--they not--
they're not gonna--

they're not gonna fight
down here no more.

You know where they going?
They're after white people.

♪ Oh, yeah ♪

[news anchor]
As word of the shouted threat

to do the white man in
spread by word of mouth,

whites began to crowd
the gun shops

for weapons
to defend themselves.

♪ blues music ♪

♪ Oh, yeah ♪

♪ Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy"
playing ♪


♪ Now, when I was a young boy ♪

♪ At the age of five ♪

♪ My mother said I
was gonna be ♪

♪ The greatest man alive ♪

♪ But now I'm a man ♪

♪ I'm past 21 ♪

[man] Man, take a picture.
Take a picture over there.

Take a picture over there.
Get him, get him.

That--that's what they're doing.

[man] Hey, hey!


[news anchor]
The sound of the sniper's rifle

is being heard
even more frequently.

[news anchor]
And time after time, sniping

turned into full-scale combat,

and Los Angeles police

responding with pistols
and semiautomatic weapons.

By the third or fourth night,

the LAPD had actually evacuated
the community.

Once sight I've seen in my life

that I thought
was the most amazing

is about 40 black-and-whites
leaving South-Central.

[William] Some people
who are getting hurt here

are the police
and innocent citizens,

and the rioters are prevailing.

And if you think I'm going
down there and pleading

with a bunch of hoodlums
to obey the law...no.


[Karen] When Watts happened,
I was 12 years old,

and we had just moved from
one side of town to the other,

and as a matter of fact,
if we had stayed

where we lived previously,

we would have been
in the middle of it.

My white friends were afraid

their parents' stores
were being burnt down,

their furniture stores
or other stores that they had.




If you're, like, the only

in an environment,

people expect for you
to explain.


"So please tell us

why you're all doing this."


[man shouting indistinctly]

They burnt businesses,

but most of the people
in this building

at that particular time
were black,

so I guess they just
passed it on by.

It was a really serious,
scary time

just to be in the area.

♪ soft instrumental music ♪


[news anchor] On the morning
of Friday the 13th,

Chief Parker called
for the National Guard.


[Vivian] National Guard
was on the street,

coming right down Central.

I remember personally
the tankers going up,

you know, and the police
walking down the street

in armored gear, rifles drawn,

and my brother and I
were standing at the doorway.

As they walked past,
they just kind of looked at us

and pointed the guns
toward the door,

for what I don't know.

Maybe to intimidate us,
to frighten us,

and they did.

The LAPD came back
with the National Guard.

They took their revenge.

[man] Drop that purse
and get your hands up.

Get your hands up!


[news anchor] We know now
that these have been

days and nights as horrible

as any American city
has ever lived through.

This evening,
Los Angeles remains hot,

quiet, tense, and dangerous.

28 people killed,
all but four of them Negroes.

Bill Stout reports
that figure if sure to rise

as bodies are found
in the rubble.

Seven hundred and sixty-two
have been injured,

2,256 arrested.

The damage at a guess
close to $200 million.

Governor Brown has extended

last night's
eight o'clock curfew

for another 24 hours.

Right now, about 15,000 police
and national guardsmen

are on patrol in
the 40-square-mile riot area.

I command you
to immediately disperse.

Any persons remaining
in this immediate area

will be taken into custody.

[indistinct police radio]

[James] At first, they
turned off the electricity,

and then they threatened
to turn off the water,

and my grandmother decided to
take us from South-Central,

46th and Central Avenue,
to my aunt's house.

When she loaded up the car
and drove us to the end,

where the blockade was,

I remember the flashing lights
coming down in the car,

and the National Guard's rifles
in the car.

[man] When honoring the request
of a police officer,

when they tell you
to get out of the car,

you'd better get out, friend,
or you're liable

not to be able to get out.

[man] I'm sorry.
I'm going home.

[Eric] It was martial law,

and no African-Americans
were allowed on the street

after a certain period of time.

You weren't allowed
to leave the city.

You weren't allowed
to travel around.

I've said all over America,

and I've come out
to Watts to tell you today

that no matter
how your hair looks,

no matter
what your features are,

no matter what color you are,

you are somebody.

[cheers and applause]

So speak out of your hearts,
and speak frankly.

You couldn't talk to anybody,

because there was nobody
to talk to.

You couldn't talk to the cops,

because they don't want
to talk to me.

They wanted
to beat my brains out,

just like they've been doing
all the time.

And the only way--
the only way of saying

that we can ever get anybody
at any time to listen to us

is start a riot.

We got sense enough to know

that this is not
the final answer,

but it's a beginning.

It's a beginning.

But who wants to lay down

while somebody
kick him to death?

[cheers and applause]

This is what
we're talking about!

Nobody wants to lay down
and get kicked in the head!

When a guy in the city hall,
a police chief,

calls the people
of the United States of America

in this area
"a bunch of monkeys,"

he's not worth two cents
to be a police chief.

[cheers and applause]

Two or three days before this--
all this happened,

these people were just about
starving to death,

waiting for the first

till they got their checks--
they needed this.

[man] You mean this was a
continuing situation down here?

Right, all the time.

[man] Well, I mean, can't--

don't they get the money
from welfare?

I mean, we have
the Aid to Needy Children--

They need jobs. They need jobs.
That's what they need.

[man] What could make
all the rioting stop?

I don't think it'll ever stop,

[man] Never?

I mean, it may not be like this,

it'll never stop.

[man] What will end it?

Now, that's a question that's--
everyone want to know.

The thing I think
that would end it is

a little more harmony
on both sides.

[man] Expressed how?

You have me there.
That's kind of hard to say.

[man] You wish it would end?

Yeah, it need to end.

All the stores are closed.

I mean,
the stores what are left--

none open.

Get food, we--I don't know
what's gonna happen.

♪ piano music ♪


[Bill] In the wake
of the riots, some believe

that public officials
were to blame

for failing to act
or acting too slowly.

Still others believe the police
are to blame,

and still others say

that Negroes themselves
are responsible.

They say that many
in this part of town

are from the poorest parts
of the Deep South,

are immoral, uneducated,

ill-prepared for life
in the big city.

And there are those who believe
the riots were the work

of an organized hoodlum gang

whose leaders are willing
to back down now

in the face of armed might,

to put away their weapons,
bide their time,

and strike again,
harder perhaps,

when the guard and the police
have moved on to other areas.

It's hard to tell
about the enigma of Watts.

A few things, of course,
are obvious.

One is this:

the three-fingered sign

that makes a crude W for Watts.

Passing through
the Negro sections

at the height of the riots,

you could hear again and again
the cry,

"Hey, give me three, man."

And if you didn't hold up
the three-fingered W,

you could be in trouble.

But that was Watts
during the riots.

Watts today is a sign

posted by a National Guard

manned by three armed soldiers,

a sign saying,
"Turn here or get shot."

Where were you in LA?

Over on the east side of town,
south of Los Angeles.

Well, that's a nice, uh...

- Yeah.
- [woman] ...neighborhood.

- I mean, it's--
- [laughing]

Were you there during the riots?

- Most definitely.
- [laughter]

Look here, no, no, no, no.

You don't say that
with any restraint at all.

No, no, not only was I there,

I was participating.

Yeah, and to what degree,
may I ask?

Well, you know,
whatever I could pick up fast.

How did you feel
the next morning?

Very good, sweetie.


[Darnell] The legacy of 1965

is that it sort of
brought to a close

the optimism
of the civil rights movement.

It introduced violence
as a result

of people's dissatisfaction
with the pace

at which things were moving
in a major way.

And as 1965, of course,
leads to 1967

and the long, hot summers
across the country...

pretty much every major city
during this period

experienced some type
of urban uprising.

We are running around
talking about,

"Black folks are looting."
I agree.

There should be more shooting
and looting.

That's the only thing
I agree with.

Black folks trying to loot
when they should be shooting.

If you're gonna loot,
loot you a gun store.


♪ funky music ♪


There was a Kerner Commission

that came out that talked
about two Americas.

This our basic conclusion.

Our nation is moving toward
two societies,

one black, one white,

separate and unequal.

And that's when, in Washington,

they pass
the anti-poverty program,

so there's a lot
of money available,

coming in the community.

So you had all kinds of programs
that were started.

You had programs for health.

You had programs
for economic development.

You had programs for the arts.

[train bell tolling]

[news anchor] Watts in 1966

is not unlike the Watts
of 1965,

but there is one change.

There is communication now,

most of it by blacks,

with blacks, for blacks.

But some of the channels
have been opened up

by white men too.

One of those white men
in Watts 1966

is Budd Schulberg.

[Mike] Budd Schulberg, who wrote
On the Waterfront,

came down and helped organize
the Watts Writers Workshop.

"Because it was never there,

something empty filled the gap,

and since the absence
was not seen,

all too soon the people died."

Schulberg had the notion

that if you gave people
an opportunity

to express themselves,

to have some kind
of artistic outlet,

then you'd have
a better neighborhood.

You'd have better

And a lot of us
took him up on that.

He knew that Watts,

like many so-called "ghettos,"

was bottlenecked energy,

so I went to
the Watts Writers Workshop

and asked about, you know,
the different classes,

and Anthony Hamilton
was the head of a poetry class,

and after that class,
he approached me and said,

"You know what, we have a group
called the Watts Prophets,

and we've been looking
for a female member."

We weren't trying to be

Grammy-winning musicians
and poets.

We were trying
to make a difference,

make a change, make our people
feel better about themselves.

♪ Daybreak will find me ♪

[Dee Dee] "Daybreak will find me
down on my knees,

a slave to my job,

Lord, I've got to get free.

A baby is born,

but what's his destiny

if he's black in a white world?"

♪ A baby is born ♪

They were using their craft,

and they were using
their music,

you know, to really explain,

really talk about
the condition of black folk

and talk about the inequity
that existed among us.

Up until the point
that we had a riot,

everybody said,
"Those niggers are all right.

- They're doing fine."
- Okay, after the riot.

Then when we riot--
then when we had a riot,

then the white man said,
"Uh-oh, something's wrong,

'cause you suckers
are burning down my store.

Now I got to give
these niggers something,

because I thought
they was happy."

[man] But what did he give 'em?

[news anchor] With the bands
and the floats,

you'd think it was
an Armistice Day parade,

this second anniversary
of Watts.

Well, in a way, it is.

Celebrating two years of peace

in this South-Central
Los Angeles community.

The theme of the festival,
black is beautiful,

was designed to remind
the young men here

that they should be proud
of their color

and of Watts.

One of the interesting things
that happens

out of Watts as well

is that there's also
a lot of ferment

around cultural organizing

and community organizing.

The US Organization comes out
of this particular period.

We have gotten our manhood back

by the act of violence.

When the brother throws a brick

or snipes from a building

then he has just returned
to his manhood.

The crisis presented us
with an opportunity

that we had never had before.

That is to pull
everybody together

and get them into
some constructive program.

[man] The Black Panthers
come onto the scene

very shortly thereafter.

[Bobby] The racist dog policemen
must stop

their wanton murder
and brutality of black people

or face the wrath of armed black
people in the black community.

The US and the Panthers
had different ideologies.

The US Organization
were more cultural nationalists.

They wore dashikis,
grew their hair out,

and the Panthers
were revolutionaries.

They wore leather jackets.

They talked about being armed

and using weapons
in self-defense.

But they were all motivated
by monitoring the LAPD.

Let's monitor what they do,
taking down names of cops,

documenting police abuses.

A lot of the gang members
became Panthers.

They were repurposed
community activists.

They had something different
to do.

They had something
that was positive to do.

[Alex] And it was a really good
time, because crime was down.

Gang violence
was at its lowest,

and consciousness was at its
highest for African-Americans.

It wasn't sanctioned

by the system,

by white folk,
by law enforcement,

so it was a constant, you know,
ebb and flow, if you will,

on attempt to break it up,

to create havoc
so that it wouldn't continue.

[Alex] When the FBI
was under J. Edgar Hoover,

their goal was to create
as much conflict

between the Panthers and the US,
because they were

the two most prominent
political groups in Los Angeles.

A new report from the Senate
Intelligence Committee

detailing more FBI abuses.

The staff report tells
how the FBI used anonymous notes

to provoke bloody gang wars

between the Black Panthers
and rival groups.

[Jeff] One of the main

was a young man
named Bunchy Carter,

who was a leader
of the Slausons gang,

and he undergoes sort of
a political awakening

and signs up and becomes
a Black Panther.

In a school building at UCLA,

there's a shootout
between the US Organization

and the Black Panther Party,

and Bunchy Carter is one
of the folks who is killed.

At approximately 2:45 p.m.
this afternoon,

two men were murdered
at the UCLA campus.

Their names are John Huggins,

23 years old,

and Alprentice Carter,
26 years old.

It's just one of the tragic
moments in LA history,

because Bunchy brought

that leadership to the youth.

[news anchor]
Between two and three hundred

Los Angeles Police Department

massed near the Black Panther
Party headquarters

in Los Angeles.

[news anchor]
The United States government

and the state authorities
and state agencies

are out to systematically
commit genocide

on the Black Panther Party.

There was just an emptiness
in Los Angeles in 1969.

Everything just stopped,

and it allowed
a new generation of teenagers

to try to do their own thing.

[man] Crip: "continuous
revolution in progress."

[Alex] When Raymond Washington
started the Crips,

they wore leather coats.

Leather coats became a big deal,

because that's what
the Panthers wore,

so stylistically,

they wanted to be
like the Panthers.

Politically, they didn't
have the know-how.

Raymond Washington was just
a 15-year-old kid.

Never been to jail, doesn't
know anything about prison

at that point in time.

He's just a kid
that knows how to fight.

What Raymond Washington and
the other Crips wanted to do

was go to the neighborhoods
and try to, "Hey, join us."

But they said, "Oh, no, no, no.
We're--we're fine."

All these gangs that have been
victimized by the Crips,

they come together and say,
"Hey, these Crips

are just running all over us.

We got to defend ourselves."

That's when an alliance
of all these gangs

started to fight
against the Crips.

[news anchor] To its members,
the gang

or club or clique
or neighborhood

is an identity,

a defense against the world.

But while belonging to a gang

is a harmless inclination
of many youngsters,

in the ghetto, the gang
is far removed from fun.

Police? They can die.

They all can die.
I hate 'em.

[news anchor] The gang's
feelings toward the police

and toward the world in general

are emphatically expressed

in wall paintings and graffiti.

In many respects, gang graffiti

is the newspaper
of the streets.

All right, Daryl, you're here,

and if you'll look handsome...

- [laughter]
- ...we will take the vote.

All right,
there has been a motion

to appoint Daryl Gates
to chief of police

of the city of Los Angeles.

- All those in favor, say "Aye."
- all: Aye.

The motion is carried

The meeting of the Board
of Police Commissioners

is now adjourned.


[Daryl] This is truly
a great organization.

I perceive that this
organization can do anything,

absolutely anything,

if it has the proper leadership.

[Alex] Daryl Gates was a protégé
of William Parker,

so basically we have
William Parker

from 1950 to 1966.

He dies of a heart attack
a year after the riots,

and then Daryl Gates becomes
the chief in 1976 to 1992,

so basically
we have William Parker

as the police chief
from 1950 to 1992.

[Charlie] Chief Gates was
a driver for Chief Parker,

and that was part
of his training

to be chief of police.

[Sacha] The mafia has
a similar system

in that there is driver
for the don.

Maybe the mafia got that
from the police.

Well, maybe they both got it
from the military,

because that is common
in the military too.

♪ We're from Watts ♪

♪ We're from Watts,
mighty, mighty Watts ♪

[Karen] In the '70s,
as I became more active,

the level of repression
from the LAPD

was very, very severe,

so activists would get together,

and we would have meetings,
and the LAPD

would harass us,
would infiltrate our meetings.

Our tires would be slashed.
Cars would be vandalized.

Daryl Gates--he had files
on members of the city council,

and during those years,
the police chief

actually was the most powerful
person in the city

Because of the way
the city charter was written,

he couldn't be fired.

[news anchor] Gates bristled
when one reporter

asked him to comment
on the increase

in officer-involved shootings.

Do you know
that there is an increase?

That is precisely
what I'm talking about.

There is a decrease
in officer-involved shootings,

but it's people like you
that perpetuate the myth

that there's an increase.

♪ S.W.A.T. theme playing ♪


The entire SWAT idea
came out of Daryl Gates

and LAPD's work

in trying to contain
black activists in the 1960s.

I knew Daryl Gates very well.
I worked directly for him.

Some of the things
that he was criticized for--

I think he was misunderstood.


One time, he said
that he was concerned

that blacks didn't respond
to the chokehold

as normal people.

[news anchor] He said, quote:

He was immediately
made out to be a racist.

It may be that on some,

the arteries do not open up

in--in a normal fashion.

Maybe "a normal fashion"
instead of "normal people"

would have been
better terminology.

The blacks who died after the
application of a control hold,

the vast majority of 'em had

the onset of a sickle cell
anemia crisis.

So he was onto something,

but when he said it,
it came out wrong.

I'm convinced it was
his sense of compassion

that was driving him to try
to find out what was going on.

What you talkin' bout, Willis?

When I was, like,
between 12, 13,

this police officer, like,

he would try and antagonize me
to fight.

This is a grown-ass man
with a gun,

and he's groping my ass

and grabbing my nuts,

and, like, trying to get me
to do something

with all my homeys right there,
you know what I mean?

It was like, "What the fuck?"


You know?

♪ jazz music ♪

[Yo Yo]
Growing up in South-Central,

we didn't really interact
with any other races.

We were segregated.

You go too far north
of Wilshire or Pico,

cops were pulling you over,
so it wasn't too much

of going outside of
your neighborhood.

It kind of had you...

boxed in.

In Los Angeles,
a court now appears

to have settled the issue

of which students
will be educated where.

[Norwood] We went to school
in the San Fernando Valley.

We got bussed.

I'm a P-funk fan.

Punk rock started happening
on the radio.

It was a lot of shit.
It was fertile.

We went to school
with white kids that were, like,

actually getting
into this stuff, you know?

So there was
a little cultural exchange.

I didn't get bussed.

Kids from LA got bussed

out to my high school, Taft.

Ice Cube went to my high school.

A bunch of cats
went to the high school,

but music was
around that school too.

It was crazy, and I'd wind up
down on, like,

Jefferson and La Brea with a
bunch of kids, spray-painting.

At the time, I think, you know,

the suburban white kids,
they ate it up.

They were getting exposed
to all kinds of shit.

For me, it changed my life.


[news anchor] Today, in a pool
room in the heart of Watts,

the rage is subdued,
but it's there:

a new generation
of frustrated young men.

Most have little education.

Some have jail records,

and that means no job.

I don't want to rob nobody,
don't want to steal,

'cause I don't want to go
to jail no more, you know.

- [man] So what will you do?
- I don't know.

[news anchor] Estimates of
the unemployment rate in Watts

run as high as 40 percent,

and there aren't enough jobs
to go around.

[Cle] I had uncles that worked
at General Motors.

One worked at Kaiser Steel.

You had Goodyear Rubber.

Industrial America
was right here,

up and down Alameda.

Some good, blue-collar,
middle-class jobs.

So as kids growing up,
we always knew it was a given

that we were probably gonna be
in those fuckin' factories too.

Well, guess what?
Those jobs got outsourced.

All those factories
started closing,

so when I was coming up,
there was no jobs, period.

Like, you really didn't know
what you were gonna do.

♪ exciting music ♪

[Mike] One global industry
actually rides to the rescue.

Actually expressed an interest

in the declining parts
of South-Central LA,

and they came
from Latin America.

The Columbians started
coming into town,

and they started recruiting

black gang members
to sell drugs.

And then there was the way
of distributing cocaine

that was different than before,

which was changing from powder
to crack,

which led to widespread

[Perry] We were all buying up
crack as fast as we could,

as fast as we could get
our money, you know,

got money in our hand, you know?

Mind already out the door, baby.

[news anchor]
The drug so powerful

it will empty the money
from your pockets,

make you sell the watch
off your wrist,

the clothes off your back.

Or kill your mother.

Yep, that's what we're seeing.

[Kam] The Watts I grew up in--

it was rough,
but we was aware.

Gangbanging and all that,
it really wasn't about killing.

Somebody might get stabbed,
you know what I'm saying?

Somebody might get rat-packed
and stomped out or whatever,

but it wasn't--it wasn't this.

We all just living the life

that's, like, chosen in a way,

but it's, like,
forced on us also,

you understand me?

The drugs, the money,
and the guns,

all of that got put here
by Reagan and Bush.

[news anchor]
CIA Director John Deutch

defending America's spy agency

against reports
it sold crack-cocaine

in LA's black neighborhoods
to fund the contras.

I am a former Los Angeles
police narcotics detective,

and I worked South-Central
Los Angeles,

and I will tell you,
Director Deutch, emphatically

that the agency has dealt drugs
throughout this country

for a long time.

[cheers and applause]

Every so often, it'll be
a stalled train car.

It just so happened,
that train car full of guns.

Well, it's a CIA informant
or a snitch or something,

but somebody--
the word would get out,

like, you know, yeah,
there's a car over there,

and it's full of weapons,
new weapons.

That's how a lot of guns
got dispersed through the hood.

That's how--how cold
of gangsters they are.

You know what I'm saying?
Them is the real gangsters.


♪ 'Cause I'm down by Laughton,
I Crip my way around ♪

♪ Too much, too many Crips
is too much ♪

[Daryl] We, the Los Angeles
Police Department, cannot exist

with the gangs.

They cannot exist with us,

and so it's just that clear.

You've got a red knife, homey.

I'm putting you on notice
that you a gang member.

[Kam] You looked up to policemen
like superheroes,

because that's how
it was painted to us,

but getting done dirty
by them...


You know,
it was a reality check.

Tired of you people hanging
around, playing bones.

You see what I just threw?

Think those dice are loaded?

[man] They ain't loaded;
they did it themself.

Let me try this
one more time.

[laughs] He said,
"Let me try that"--

Let me try this shit.

[Kam] They don't want to tell
you who you bang with.

"I don't bang with nobody."

"Where you live?"
"I live over there on"--

"Well, then, yeah, you were at
such-and-such crib."

First it made me question

like, did I do something wrong?

Like, you really, you know,

am I criminal?

Am I what this person said
I was?

[Cle] It was, like, three of us.

We had on baseball uniforms.

I remember we were
nine, ten years old.

So we're working through
the alley

and these cops pull up on us.

Like, "Who won today?

We were like,
"We about to go play.

We haven't played yet."

And they say, "Hold up."

Smacks my partner, right?

Smacks another one, right?

And then he punches me.

And he said, "Gentlemen,
that's for the future."

And he got in his car
and just left.

Here we are reaching
the end of 1985

and about to start 1986.

I thought it was time to talk
to you a little bit about

what we've done in 1985

and cover just some
of the highlights.

[glass shatters]

♪ hip-hop music ♪

We put together a motorized
battering ram

to get through barred doors,

and it's been magnificent.

[Dee] I had never seen tanks

roll down the street

to break into a house.

Because there was such
a drug epidemic going on,

they had these things
called the batter ram,

which was a tank,
a military tank.

So this was part of
the police procedure.



[Connie] LAPD tore down
people's doors

with all the wrong addresses.

Didn't matter; they were black.

[Daryl] The K9 unit has been
with us for a long time.

I need not tell any of you
how valuable they are.

They do such a sensational job.

I haven't heard of any
dog brutality yet.

[Connie] They would release
those K9 dogs

to hunt black kids.

They even had a joke
on the police radio.

When they were getting ready
to sic the dogs

on a captive black teenager,

they'd call it "feeding time."

[Sacha] And they referred
to black kids as biscuits?

Yes, biscuits.

[James] Being a police officer
is something that I did.

It was a service that I did.

It wasn't who I was.

I could take that uniform off,

but the color of my skin,
who I am,

I could not take off.

Staying in the patrol car
every day

when you're going out and
you're getting these calls--

and believe me,
it's dangerous--

patrol officers don't know
who's going to hurt them

or what the call
is going to be next.

And there's some people
out there that were racist

before they came into
police work.

I am telling you right now.

You don't have no business
touching me.

Hook him up.
Hook him up.

[James] And so everything
out here

is an aggressive attack mode,

and there's some that they've
become cynical

because of the type of work
that they have to do.

And they're scared.

But they do know that there's
a racist system

that will back them up

and that they have a better
chance of being acquitted

when they do overstep
their boundaries.

A cop cannot walk up to a man
on the street

and feel that he is so powerful

that you would not retaliate,

especially if he's wrong.

No, [bleep] them.
Who the [bleep] are the police?

They're nobody but
public servants.

[Jeff] In 1986, Ice-T
is beginning to rap about

running from police
on "6 'N The Mornin'."

♪ 6 in the morning,
police at my door ♪

♪ Fresh Adidas squeak
across the bathroom floor ♪

So the music has this
sharp turn,

and it's looking at the ways
that police

are trying to contain
black bodies

and offering a sense of


[B-Real] We were definitely
talking about

the corruption
and the brutality.

We never really feared what
those songs would bring.

We just thought we had to,
you know, take a stance.

It was important to us,
because, I mean, you know,

we were the ones getting
harassed every other day.

By me having the mic, I get to
kind of explain

and really talk about the things
that cause problems.

See, I'm more of a complaining
type of rapper,

like a nag, you know, because
I like to talk about things

that need to be talked about,

things that I want changed

or things that--that people
need to take from the back

of their mind and put it to
the front of their mind.

♪ Hittin' corners
in a six-trey Chevrolet ♪

♪ Rag-top Impala, top dollar ♪

♪ Got my cousin Laid-Back
ridin' shotgun ♪

[Kam] You know, I was doing
my thing in the street

with some of my homies from

You know, we was using our
little street money.

[Sacha] What do you mean
by street money?

[Kam] Uh, dope money.

Ronald Reagan money.

So we was using our
Ronald Reagan money,

you know what I'm saying,

to make an album,

and we just happened to be
at the same studio

that Ice Cube was at.

The artist that he had was
Yo Yo.

♪ You can't play
with my Yo Yo ♪

♪ The brand-new intelligent
black lady ♪

[Kam] Cube used to come scoop me

and I--I love the brother,
you know what I'm saying?

We squashed our dif--'cause we
had some differences,

but he used to come scoop me up
and I'd be like,

"Man, I could kill this dude
right now.

I wonder how long it would take
before that hit the news,

if I were to hit him right now,
why we in the car--

like, people just playing his
music all around the country

right now, but I can kill him
right now."

[Sacha] How do you get to
a place

where you're thinking about
killing your own brother?

Four-hundred years of slavery

and teaching us to hate

Hate yourself; somebody teach
you to hate yourself.

Everything black is wicked and
evil and worthless and all that,

and everything close to white
is right and good and all that.

So I'm way down in the dirt;
I'm in the East Side Bottoms.

I'm, you know, so--life don't
mean shit to me.

But that's all we know.
That's how we talk.

That's how we trained.

[Daryl] Howdy.

The title of this videotape

is very appropriate.

It's called
"The Foothill Incident."

By now, like every man, woman,
and child

in probably the United States,

you have witnessed this
Foothill Incident,

the videotape, in your own
living rooms,

over and over again.

[news anchor]

Rodney King had been pulled
over by Los Angeles

police officers after
a high-speed chase.

An apartment dweller across
the street

took this home video after
seeing no apparent reason

for the police to attack
the suspect

with boots and night sticks.

[Daryl] There's not a man
or woman

in this department who does not
feel as outraged

as the public is.

As a matter of fact, I think
we're probably angrier

than the public because
it affects us more.

We were like, "Holy shit."

You know, this video camera

Like, they got it.

you know what I mean?

"Finally we got some evidence.

We're going to expose this.

This time we're gonna have

And this is a terrible thing
to say,

we all felt bad for his beating,

but we cheered the fact that it
was finally documented.

When we see him getting
beat down,

everybody's in an uproar,

we're ready to go again,

the Jim Browns
and the Jesse Jacksons

and the Arsenio Halls

and all these people really,
really said, "Hold on,

young people.

We got 'em this time.

Don't do anything.

This time their ass
is in trouble."

The four Los Angeles policemen

in the videotaped beating
of a black motorist

will not be tried
in Los Angeles County.

[Connie] They moved the trial
from LA up to Simi Valley,

and Simi Valley is where all
cops retire.

And I knew that once she moved
the trial up there,

the empathy was not going to be
with Rodney King;

it was going to be with
the officers,

because that's the way it works.

[news anchor] Powell also
revealed anger and bitterness

but no remorse.

He showed off one of the dozens

of cards he says he's received
from well-wishers.

I just want to get acquitted

and get this over with
and behind me.

As a white person, you were
taught as a child

in all your life a cop deserves
the benefit of doubt.

So somewhere in the back
of my mind,

even though I'm looking at that
on TV

and I'm seeing it,
and I'm going, "That fuck--

they're beating that--fucking
that dude to death."

There's still this fucking
thing that you've been told

your entire life back there
that's, like,

part of your base program.

"There's got to be a reason.

There's got to be.
He must have done something.

He must be doing something to
make 'em keep doing that."

It's on television,
all over the world.

You could see he tried to beat
the man to death,

so how can you say what we saw,
what we watching,

is not true?

And then something else

which enflamed a different set
of grievances.

[news anchor] Fifteen-year-old
Latasha Harlins

was shot and killed by
store owner Soon Ja Du.

Du claimed Harlins was stealing
a bottle of orange juice

when she confronted
the teenager.

Latasha was a beautiful person.

She was more like
a mother figure.

She was their protector.

She was always around,

making sure nobody messed
with her family.

She was good at school,

and she wanted to be
an attorney.

She wanted to be an attorney.

I remember that day like

because we were supposed
to hang out, go to the movies,


my grandmother told me
to go to the store

to get some orange juice,

and it's the same store,

the same time.

And I said, "No, I don't feel
like it."

You know, me and my
sarcastic mouth.

"I don't feel like going."

And she said--and she said,

Don't worry about it.
I'll wait till Tasha get home."

I said, "Okay."

And she just never made it home.

I was so devastated because
I could have been there.

I probably--it probably would
have been me, I don't know,

but I could've--
I should have been there.

When my grandmother told me
to go get the juice, go,

I should have just went
and got the juice.

Soon Ja Du starts yelling at
her, like,

"Why are you stealing this,

Like, "Quit stealing this."

So she's like, "I'm just trying
to get this, you know,

to pay for it."

And Latasha Harlins is turning
to walk out and leave,

and she fires the gun.

It's fucking bullshit.

You know?

[Roy] You had a group of

that work so hard to build this
dream of theirs

and have so much pride in what
they're doing,

opening a shop that they put
their whole life into.

In their mind they're kind of
in a protection mode,

psychologically, right,
protecting their store.

But not realizing that they're
in a neighborhood

that's not theirs.

There was no, like, you know,

they didn't greet them,
you know, at the airport.

"Hey, you better read up
a little bit on civil rights

history so you can maybe,
you know,

when you open up that store
in the hood,

maybe you might avoid 1992
that's gonna happen to you

in a couple of years."

It was the wedge
that split apart

in a very open and visceral way,

the Korean immigrant community

and the African-American

Why don't you open up a market

that we can use for our

Go back to Korea!

We're the one making you--
why don't you hire blacks?

Why don't you hire blacks?

Ice Cube put a record called
"Death Certificate"

and had a song called like
"Black Korea."

This is what everyone was
listening to,

my age, my color.

That came out before the riots
as well, I believe.

And it was extremely prophetic.


[Danny] The fact that Ice Cube
made that song,

you know, he was only reflecting
the reality

that we were living with.

"Black Korea" was like
the one track, I think,

that probably impacted me
the most

in my entire life.

If you don't have these things
like truth speakers

through, you know, music
or art,

then all you have is the media,
you know what I mean?

All you have is the news.

And that's your main source
of what truth is.

That was like the other side
for me

to kind of listen to these other
stories and voices.

And a lot of my friends
were like,

"We're boycotting Ice Cube.

Fuck that dude."

You know?

But what gave Soon Ja Du
the right

to take Latasha Harlins' life?

And who are we actually
defending here?

Now, in that case,

justice was actually
partially served

because Soon Ja Du was found

She was found guilty
of manslaughter.

If you or I were found guilty
of manslaughter

in the state of California,

we're probably going to be
sentenced to 15 years in prison.

That's a typical sentence
for that offense.

So the jury did their job
in Soon Ja Du.

It was the judge,
Judge Karlin,

she gave Soon Ja Du
five years probation

for shooting a girl
in the back of the head.

That's unheard of!

To suggest that any sentence
that this court might give

results in the conclusion

that black children don't
receive full protection

of the law, that is
dangerous rhetoric.

And I can tell you,
people were mad.

♪ jazzy music ♪

She got away with murder.

[crowd chanting]

Stop chilling our children!

We want justice!

One judge, one judge,

had the power to overturn
that decision.

[Sacha] One white judge.

[both] One white judge.

[chanting] Karlin must go!

Karlin must go!

[Denise] Always wanted
just one thing,

and that was justice
for Latasha,

and to be shown that we mattered
in this community,

we mattered in this city.

[indistinct chanting]

[Danny] Latasha Harlins
was that explosive moment

that really sort of got
everybody focused

on what was going on
in our community

and how badly our community
was being treated

and how not much
had really changed.

How long can you suppress
and oppress people

before you expect a reaction?

[man] We the jury
in the above entitled action

find the defendant
Lawrence M. Powell

not guilty of the crime
of assault by force

likely to produce great violent
injury by a deadly weapon.

This 29th day of April, 1992,
signed by the foreman.

[Felicia] I remember April 29,

We were in the studio,

and the news broke

that the cops were, you know,
let go.

It sends a bad message.

It says it's okay to go ahead
and beat somebody

when they're down and kick
the crap out of 'em,

and it's okay because
if it's not videotaped,

don't worry about it,
another brother officer

won't turn you in,

and your brother officer
does turn you in,

don't worry, we'll get white
jurors or whoever who takes

and you'll walk.

[Perry] I was over on
Florence and Normandie,

that little chili dog stand.

I'm there getting a chili dog,

I love the chili dogs,

and then this sister, she said,

"They let them
white motherfuckers go."

Everybody like, "Oh, fuck this.
Not again."

There was so much
negative energy in the city.

Rodney King had his trial
right here on the street

where he got beat.

Those four policemen were not
judge and jury,

and I don't care what he did,
if he did anything.

That did not give them the right
to beat him out here.

They need to come out here
and take a beating like that

'cause that was not right.

Several of the officers
had obviously

done things that I thought
were ineffective,

overly brutal,
and probably criminal.

[Sacha] So you're saying,
Chief Beck is saying

that the verdict was wrong?

No, I didn't say that.

[Sacha] Well, so what
are you saying?

I'm saying--I'm saying what
they did was wrong.


[Sacha] So you think the verdict
was fair in--

Oh, no.
Excuse me.

I--you know what, let's...

Let me back this up.

Chief Beck is saying
the prosecution

was correct, and you're right;

the verdict was wrong.

We knew that them officers

was going to go to jail.

You done beat that man down,

they done caught you
on television,

they done got you on everything,

and when they let--when they let
'em go,

I mean, it was like...

"Nigga, you gets no justice."

[news anchor] The four officers
left the courthouse

to face an angry court
of public opinion outside.

[Gumbel] There are quite a few
police officers

gathered here outside
the courthouse now

to maintain order, as each
of the four LA cops leaves.

I do not seek to explain
the jury's decision,

because frankly, no explanation
makes sense.

What were the rules, let's say,

like, rules of engagement
for the police officers?

Could they do this?
Or could they do that?

And the testimony that we heard
is, yeah, they could do it.

If the guy was resisting arrest,

they could swing their batons
until he stopped.

But I do know this:

The jury's verdict will never
outlive the images

of this savage beating,

seared forever into our minds
and our souls.

This was a modern-day lynching.

Cops can make mistakes,

and we sure make mistakes,

but we pay for our mistakes,
you know?

We pay for our bad decisions.

We go to jail for our
bad decisions

or we die for our bad decisions.

There's some type
of consequence,

but for them, it just seems
over and over and over,

they just have to--they just
have to, you know,

a right to kill
or beat the shit out of you.

And I could just see
on the monitor,

just all around the city,

stuff just started happening.

I was gathering--"Did you hear
about what happened?"

I'm just in my neighborhood,
which is Bloods,

and then other Bloods start
coming to our neighborhood,

and we're trying to figure out
what we're going to do,

and this was going on
all over the city.

[man] Officer down.

here he comes.

Officer down.

There was an incident between
the Eight Tray Gangster Crips

and the LAPD.

[indistinct chatter]

And they threw blows;
they had fist fights.

You know what I mean?
It got bad.

[man] Video camera!
Video camera!

[Cle] I applaud them
and salute them

because they stood up
to the cops

right there at that time
and period.

[indistinct chatter]

And the LAPD retreated.

[Mike] They went in,

they raised
the emotional temperature

above the boiling point,

and then they left.

The voices are starting to rise,

rise, rise, rise.

We were sick and tired of being
sick and tired

of being sick and tired.

And we weren't taking it
no more.

[indistinct chatter]

♪ rock music ♪

[news anchor] Everybody here
expected some turmoil

following yesterday's surprise
courtroom verdicts,

but no one imagined the kind
of violent orgy

that took place in the streets

[Karen] I was actually
on the corner

of Florence and Normandie

when the riots started.

Community leaders had said
the day of the verdicts,

everyone should go
to First AME Church.

So I got in my car along
with one of my coworkers

and I saw all of this

So as I pulled up
on the corner,

I realized that there was
a whole group of people

that were standing there,
throwing bricks and rocks

into cars.

When I saw that, I sped up
real quickly.

I missed the brick,
but my coworker got the brick.


All along the way
and on that corner

there were no police, period.

The police were completely

[man] Y'all better turn
the fuck around.

[man] [inaudible]
from Battalion 13.

Uh, we've just been taken out.

We got bottles through
the window.

Fuck the motherfuckin'

[news anchor] The war zone

was a five-square-mile section
of the city,

known for its high crime
and poverty,

but there was some trouble

Across town at the city's
police headquarters,

a crowd of several hundred
tried to rush the building.

They taunted patrolmen who
stood shoulder to shoulder

in riot gear.

[man] Hold the line!
Hold the line!

Hold the line!

Why are they sending
the brothers out?

So [inaudible], I don't want to
see my brothers and my sisters


[indistinct chanting]

I'm looking at all this.

[woman] Eating a chili dog.

I'm eating a chili--but I'm
looking at this, 'cause--

it was amazing.

It was like...

'65 all over again.

[indistinct chatter]

There's a movement going on.

Hey, man.
Fuck the white man!

Fuck y'all.
We killin'.

[Tom] I got home and both
my daughters were home

watching television.

And I pulled in the driveway,

and they came out and they said,
"Dad, Dad,

you won't believe
what's going on.

There's a riot."

And I said, "What do you mean?"

And I go inside and I look
at the television

and I see what's going on
at Florence and Normandie.

[horns honking]

I ran out to the police car,

I got on the radio,
I said that "There is

a homicide in progress.

Respond all units,
code three."

About a minute and a half,
two minutes later,

I didn't see any units.

So I get on the radio again,

and then she says, "Commander
12 rescinded your order."

And I thought to myself,
"What is happening?

What's going on here?
This is crazy.

There's no police there."

[man] The police were marshalled

within four blocks of where
it started.

If they had just gone there
and stopped it,

there would never have been
a riot.

[Karen] Of course we learned

that our illustrious
chief of police

was on the other side
of town at a fundraiser

to fight the ballot measure

that we were organizing around

to bring him under control.

What he did was, he basically
said, "Okay, you guys

don't like police?

None will be around."

There's no way to explain
no police officers,

because you're talking about
an area that was always

heavily policed.

[horns blaring]

About eight o'clock or so,
Chief Gates showed up.

[man] What have you been able to
do so far tonight, Chief Gates?

Well, we're, I think, slowly
getting in control.

As you see, we're out
in force

and officers are beginning
to make arrests more and more,

and I think we will begin
to impress upon the people

in this area
that we mean business.

[Charlie] The city, it's just
aglow with fire.

Total chaos.
Total chaos.

[indistinct radio chatter]

♪ jazzy music ♪

[Eric] I remember driving
from my house.

I lived in Carson,
who bordered Compton.

I get on the 110 freeway.

emergency vehicles,

police officers, just flying
up and down the freeway,

smoke, fires.

[Everlast] Me and B-Real,

we were fucking smoking
crazy ass weed

and shrooming our brains out.

And as we're coming over
the last hill

before you see the greater part
of LA,

it looks to me like LA
is on fire.

And I say to B, I was like,

it looks like everything
is on fire, dude."

He was like, "Dude, it does."

We were fucked up.

[B-Real] All you could see
is black smoke

all through the city
coming into Los Angeles.

We were fucking like, "Whoa,
what the fuck?

Is this the apocalypse?"

[horn blaring]

[news anchor] The anger kept
pouring out.

Crowds soon began throwing
rocks and bottles

and setting fires.

Still, the police held back.

The greedy began looting,

and it continued for hours

Dozens of buildings
have been torched

and firetrucks couldn't get
anywhere near

for fear of being attacked.

I was at fire station 17,

which is on the east side
of Los Angeles

in the industrial area.

We were at the furniture

and we needed some fuel
for the chainsaw,

so I ran back to get
the fuel,

and this lady came running
at me with this ax,

and since I was in the
compartment with the chainsaw,

I just grabbed it.

So I started it up and I told
her, I said, "Don't miss."

And she looked at me, smiled,
dropped the ax.

And then she left.

And I was--I was like, "I really
didn't want to have to go there,

but I would have went there."

- [indistinct chatter]
- [horn honking]

I got some video
you would love!

I swear to God!
People's reactions and stuff!

And they'll talk to me
'cause I'm black!

♪ hip-hop music ♪

[crowd cheering]


♪ Let's make noise ♪

♪ Let's make noise,
come on ♪

♪ The roof, the roof,
the roof is on fire ♪

♪ We don't need no water,
let the motherfucker burn ♪

♪ Burn, motherfucker, burn ♪

You a fuckin' redneck.


[man] Everybody get to the
corner of the crosswalk

'cause you're going to jail.

You're gonna go real quick,
young man.

[B-Real] We tried to get through
the city as safely as possible,

'cause out there was a little

depending on where you were
going to.

But, you know, we always were


We were rolling crazy back then,

so we didn't really fear
for our lives in that sense.

I mean, you know, because
were part of the ones

talking about this shit.

♪ Here is something
you can't understand ♪

♪ How I could just kill a man ♪

♪ Here is something
you can't understand ♪

♪ How I could just kill a man ♪

[helicopter whirring]

[news anchor] And the agony

long after the sun came up.

[glass shattering]

[man] Fire is fire.

You can control that.
Can't control people.

[news anchor] A full 24 hours

after the stunning verdicts,

Los Angeles is still on edge.

[siren blaring]

[man] 1930 hours, day two.

War zone's getting thicker.

Geez, looks like Beirut
or something.

Get your anger,
your frustration,

your hard feelings,

not out on the streets,
not breaking windows,

not looting, not rioting.

This is what bothers me.

It's like, people done watching

and they're listening
to the radio, obviously.

They hear or they see
that nothing is being done,

so they're like,
"Well, I'm gonna go out

and get something."

[man] Hey, why hide, man?


[woman] Hey, what did you get?

- Shoes.
- Shoes?

- Yeah.
- Where do you live?

- Right here.
- Why did you do this?

I don't know,
because it's free.

- 'Cause it's free?
- Yeah.

- Don't you know it's wrong?
- Nah.

Look at me.
What are you doing?

- I don't know.
- Are you embarrassed?


Don't you know
this is illegal?

[man] I've been taking pictures
of the police.

They ain't been doing nothing.

I got it all on camera here.

Man, it's amazing.
Let me get this shot here.

[siren blaring]

[George Bush] I'm one who
respects our police.

They keep the peace,
they face danger every day,

they help kids,

they don't make a lot
of money,

but they care about
their communities

and their country.

Thousands of police officers
and firefighters

are risking their lives
right now on the streets of LA

and they deserve our support.

[indistinct radio chatter]

[man] How are those
Rice Krispies?

Right in the box.

[indistinct chatter]

Since the start of it,
the very start.

Do you feel any fatigue
at this time?


I'm tired, I'm wearing down,

nobody can make a decision.

You got all these damn brass
that, uh,

try and make a decision,
and it ends up

that the troops out there
in the field

are getting left out.

You have the incompetents
who are now leading us,

and they can't even lead
the troops as it is.

So I don't even know what
the hell we're doing out here.

[Dee] The police were more
interested in containment,

not stopping it whatsoever.

They were not allowing people
to come up and here

and then loot and tear up
Beverly Hills,

but you can stay over there
on this side of Wilshire.

[chuckles] That was shocking
to me, too,

like, you know,
'cause you're looking around.

You're saying, "Well,
where are the police

when this is happening?"

You watch the news

and the news
only talked about black people.

It really wound up
being citywide.

I called it the Rainbow Revolt,

because white folks were
participating in the looting.

I had just bought a home
in Venice

that needed furniture,

and the whole place was
furnished with stolen furniture.

That riot was the fuel for us
to kind of misbehave

and get a lot of shit
out of our system

that we had pent up,

and we really--really felt good.

[Eric] Let's go back to
the phones.

Hey, what is your name, and
where are you calling from?

[Joyce] My name is Joyce
calling from Long Beach.

- [Eric] Yes, Joyce.
- [Joyce] We're angry because

it's showing that we as blacks
together are nothing.

That's what they're saying
to us.

We mean nothing.

I came home from work tonight,

and I'm looking at women
cheering these people on,

they're smashing windows,

they're burning our

Where the hell else can we go
to get food

and get treated with some
amount of decency?

Yes, I'm hurt that the verdict
was what it was,

but I'm hurt for my people.

This certainly isn't what you
call a damn revolution.

Out of there with the food.

I--I got to do some shopping.

I don't have any food
in the house.



[horn honking]

♪ eerie music ♪

[news anchor] Some looters
spared black-owned businesses

but ransacked the Asian stores

[Walter] We're gonna take
back our community.

If we allowed you to come in

maybe we made a mistake,
but now we're telling you

you must go.

Don't break anything, okay?

I'm not.

Are all the chips gone?

♪ A riot baby,
the fire raised me in '92 ♪

♪ All the homies told me
fuck the police ♪

♪ We should go and loot ♪

♪ But my father tell me if they
get too close to you ♪

♪ You should shoot ♪

♪ I was conflicted ♪

♪ What's a little soldier
supposed to do? ♪

I think my dad, you know,

was, like a lot of our
family members too,

the older folks,
they participated

in, like, I guess, helping out
some of the businesses

and protecting 'em and stuff.

[news reporter] People who are

are coming through this

The roadblocks have basically
been taken--not taken down;

they've moved.

Does that make you nervous,

when you see people driving by

who are of another color?

- Yeah.
- Right now, yeah.

There are a lot of--
if you look out there,

there are a lot of Hispanic
and Black people out there

and they're just roaming around,

packed in their cars,
running out,

trying to loot something
or pillage something.

The young kids, the
20-year-olds, 18-year-olds,

19-year-olds, we kind of were
tasked with, like,

patrolling the streets.

And so it took a couple days,

but basically we started to
kind of protect the borders.


[man] I don't understand this.

I mean, just unbelievable,
inhumane things happen.

[woman] They are good people.

They have been good to my mother
and my father.

it's just ridiculous.

This is just ridiculous.
Just forget it.

[news anchor] So many whites

have barricaded their

and the days of fear and rage
know no color.

We, the white people, would not
have gone out to burn

the black neighborhoods.

[news anchor] National Guard
troops have moved into

riot-torn sections of
Los Angeles.

The troops have been deployed
to route looters

and seize control
of neighborhoods.

[news anchor]
Curfew has been imposed

going from dusk to dawn.

[Eric] It is--encompasses
Crenshaw to Alameda,

Century to Vernon.

And there's a curfew on,

and if you're in that area,

you are subjected to being

Any of you got IDs?

Turn around!

♪ hip-hop music ♪

[Alex] I was a little nervous

because they were shooting

that were out in the curfew.

[Sacha] Who was shooting?

Law enforcement.

They were shooting people.

If you were in groups,
you got shot.

There were at least ten
or eleven

officer-involved shootings
during those three days.

Who me?


[Yo Yo] Just looking
at the community,

a community that was already

to me it was just like, "Wow,"
you know?

Ten steps back

instead of pushing ten steps

So I understood...

...but I was still sad
about the whole situation.

The civil unrest in Los Angeles
is now the deadliest

in the city's history.

Worse than Watts in 1965.

In three days of violence
this week,

at least 37 people
have been killed,

more than 1,300 injured,

there have been more than 3,000

property damage,
over $200 million.

[Henry] It, like,
breaks your heart

to know so many people's lives
were affected

because of our verdict.

I don't know, you know?

It's just something
you have to live with.

I mean, we were all stuck here
for a while.

Let's--you know, let's...

let's try to work it out.

You got to be, you know...

try and work it out.

[Alex] The 1992 riots kind of
ended abruptly.

It's like, as soon as those
tanks hit the street,

it was over,

just instantaneously.

[Pat Buchanan] The one way to
stop this riot,

it wasn't with a new model
cities program

announced from Washington.

It was with superior force,

dealing with hooligans,
criminals, and thugs.

[news anchor] It was early
evening in Watts,

scores of police, nervous about
any unusual activity,

swarmed in to deal with what
they believed

may be a gang incident.

And what they stumbled on
turned out to be

600 gang members--

Bloods, Crips,
a half a dozen others--

agreeing to make peace.

These are cold killers,

crying and shit,
hugging and shit,

and apologizing,
and all of this because we saw

a bigger cause;
we saw a bigger enemy

that was--that was more
vicious and more serious

about getting rid of us
than we was

about getting rid of each other.

[Aqeela] We started celebrating

We had a big party that night,

folks came from all across
the city,

and we always have these
renegade cops

in the neighborhood,
and back then it was this cat

named Sunshine.

And Sunshine told us one day,

like, after we organized
the peace treaty,

we was like, "Sunshine, man,
the peace treaty,

yo, what's up?
You down with it?"

And he was like, "It would be
a cold day in hell

before I ever support
the peace treaty."

He said, "I make $57,000
a year at the base salary."

He said, "I make another 60
in overtime."

He said, "I'm putting my
daughter through Princeton

on your ignorance,"

and this is what he told us,

Thank you very much
for the overtime.

We do appreciate it.

[Perry] They don't
necessarily want

peace between the Bloods
and the Crips.

How are they going to fill up
the jails

if everybody's behaving

[Cle] Those three days were
the best three days

in my fucking life,
till this day.

I've done a lot of shit,
you know what I mean?

But those there days,
I'll never forget 'em,

and I'll cherish those days,
because at this time,

we were so brutalized
and we were so uncounted.

I used to really wonder, like,
"Do they even know

what's going on down here?"

We finally had this spotlight
and their attention on us,

my little Mayberry,
my little South Central;

now the whole world
is checking this out,

like, "What's going on there?"

[woman] Is there anything
you'd like to say to my family

who lost a business
during the riots?

Uh, I would say to anyone

who lost anything
during the riots

that I'm deeply, uh, deeply
grieved by that

and grieve that the Los Angeles
Police Department

was not able to--to protect

We just do not have enough

I hope the people in your
community and every community

will realize that, you know,
some misinformation

about my not sending out
the National Guard.

I sent it out just as quickly
as we had the National Guard.

Well, there were accusations
that you delayed

in bringing the police
department into the riots

because you, um, wanted to show
what would happen

without the police department.

How do you feel about
those accusations?

If nothing else, I'm a--

I'm a consummate professional.

We'd never do a thing like that,

and besides, the Rambo in me
wouldn't allow that to happen.


[news anchor] Critics have urged
police chief Daryl Gates

to step down early because of
the department's performance

during the riots.

I am concerned about
the department,

and I think the department
is at a point

where it's taken a lot of hits

because a lot of anger has been
directed at me.

It's until the 1992 riots
that we have a new chief,

and they decide we have to go
out of the city to get a chief.

They can't even hire a chief
within the department

because they didn't want to
another William Parker protégé,

and that's when they got
Willie Williams

from Philadelphia.

That just goes to show you
how effed up the LAPD was


they couldn't even find a chief
from within

to take over the reins

during this much tumultuous

♪ pensive music ♪

[Dee] The legacy of the riots.

When you look at what's
happening now

with the shootings,

what's going on
with police brutality,

it seems like nothing's changed.

We're catching it and we're
still not getting the justice.

It's still not that feeling of,
"Oh, we got it on camera now;

we're gonna win this time."

It's still like, "We have to
fight even harder."

I think you should be proud
as a black man,

because you stood your ground
and said this is unjust,

and if you're going to keep up
with the shenanigans,

well, you're gonna feel it.

I took it upon myself to say

we got to develop a relationship
with these police,

'cause they ain't going nowhere.

They're in our neighborhood,

and we got to stop them
from beating us down.

[man] Six motherfucking police
out here.

[news anchor] In an officer
involved shooting,

the LA Police Commission
has just ruled

that the shooting death
of a homeless on skid row

was justified.

[Norwood] The system ain't not
a goddamn bit different.

Thank you, Black Lives Matter,

for making people stand up
on a regular basis,

'cause that's actually a path

to a solution, is you got
to stand up

and you got to keep standing up.

How many more black people
have to die

till LAPD listens to us?

In the last four years,

we have had some of the most
officer involved shootings

that result to death in
Los Angeles.

Carnell Snell,

Ezell Ford,

Renell Jones,

Wakiesha Wilson...

- Say her name!
- [all] Wakiesha Wilson!

- Say her name!
- [all] Wakiesha Wilson!

The way that we are identifying
our dignity

is showing up in the streets

for the people that they keep

[all] Fire Charlie Beck!
Fire Charlie Beck!

[woman] Y'all just didn't take
his life;

y'all took me and family life.

So from today,
fuck this protesting shit.

I'ma start taking y'all lives.

[news anchor] Chief Beck later
said, "To target someone

because of their profession
is no better

than targeting someone because
of their race."

[Ruben] There's the LAPD
before 1992

and there's LAPD after 1992.

The before was a brutal, racist

that kept poor people and people
of color in their place.

Post-1992, it's still serving
some of that function,

but it's an institution that has
more checks and balances.

The community is now
much more organized

and pushes back a lot harder.

We never had communication
with police,

and we're trying to start
a whole new beginning

by getting that dialogue
and that communication.

Like the chief said,
we were talking to him

and hearing and listening and
trying to find a better way

to bridge the gap between us
and them.

[news anchor] Chief Charlie Beck
says transparency and trust

are key.

[Alex] What law enforcement
does in Los Angeles

is use certain words to try
to calm--

calm the community,
calm the city,

and they know which words work.

One of the words that works
is saying,

"We're going to be transparent."

And you start to see other
chiefs in other cities

try to say the right thing,

and the reason why they're
talking this way

in these press conferences

and trying to say
the right thing

and claiming transparency

is because they don't want to
see a riot in their city.

[Sacha] If you were me

and you were in my body,

would you be afraid
of the police?

Based on what's going on
in the world,

in America,
would you be afraid?

Would you be nervous to drive
in a car with your son?

Would you be afraid if you had
any interaction with the police?

So I'll tell you a story.

So for about...

four or five years of my career,

I worked surveillance, and I had
very long hair

in a time when very long hair
was not popular,

and, you know, my job was to,

um, work criminals

in tough neighborhoods.

And I have, literally, because
of the way I looked

and the car I drove and the way
I drove,

I've been stopped hundreds
of times, hundreds,

and there is--

there is always tension.


The solution to that

is empathy on both sides
of the glass.

You know what, think about--

think about what the police
officer is going through

as he approaches a car,
maybe at night,

maybe it's dark, maybe he has

you don't know about,

think about what he's going
through and try to empathize

with their situation.

And what I tell my cops is,

that--the driver.

Empathize with his situation.
You know?

Maybe he's never been pulled
over before.

Maybe he just got pulled over

by some--by an officer that
didn't treat him very well.

You know?
Have some empathy.

And if there's empathy
on both sides

of that transaction, you know,

then everybody's
going to be fine.

[Sacha] So you believe if
I carry empathy in my heart

that I'm less susceptible--

Well, if you display it,
display empathy--

in other words, if you
understand what the actions

of the police officer
and therefore

you know, recognize
that they are--

they may be on edge
as they approach,

that, you know,
the initial encounter

is the most dangerous part
of a traffic stop.

I think that you have to
remember those things, you know,

and if you do those things,
then, certainly in Los Angeles,

you know, we don't see issues
that come out of that.

[Sacha] All right.

Well, I guess if the empathy
is mutual, because...

- Well, not--
- People allege that they do

all the right things
and police officers

are still sort of on edge.

So I guess you just gotta hope
that humankind can prevail

over scared police officers
and scared people in cars.

Well, and I agree with that.

And that's why I think this is,
you know, from my point of view,

this is one of the most, you
know, everybody talks about

the conversation, you know?

[Sacha] As in the conversation.

As in "the" conversation.

[Sacha] Which is what?

Which is the conversation
between parents

and particularly their teenage
and adult sons

about how to act when you get
stopped by the police.

When you're driving down the
street and you see those lights

in your rearview mirror,

about the last thing
you're thinking about

is whether or not the police
officer that's getting ready

to stop you is having a bad day.

Or if you do think about that,

you say, "Oh, my God.

I hope he's not having
a bad day.

Otherwise I might get shot."

It really is sad, you know?

I was always happy I didn't have
a son

for the gang aspect of living

and just from, you know,
what it takes

to become a young black man
in this world.

I was just happy that I didn't
have to deal with those issues.

You know?

We've had leaders within
the community

who are gang leaders who have
tried to make positive change.

But it takes all of us.

We can't continue to let this
devil manipulate us

to kill each other.

It's crazy.

I still have problems

losing my children to gangs.

I still went through that.

- [Sacha] You, yourself?
- Yes.

My grandson was just murdered
last year.


[exhales sharply]

You know, it happens
in our communities,

and it's heartbreaking.

And I'm one of the aware ones

that raised my children

to understand and to read

and get an education.

And I still...

I still lost my grandson.

I was--I was angry.
I was angry.

I used to tell my mom,

you know, if I make it to 18,

I'm gonna suicide bomb
a police station.

I hated, hated, hated
the police.

He was pretty radical.

- Yeah.
- It was very--

it was scary for me
to listen to him talk.

And I have to say this,

I'm happy that we can have this
conversation all here together,

our entire family,
because he used to tell me,

"I'll be lucky if I see 21."

Let me tell you something about
my son real quick.


Come here real quick.

Come here.
Hurry up. Hurry up.

Come right here.

This is--this is something
that us as people of color

should never have to go through.

Take this hat off.
Take the hat off.

Sit down.

Tell this gentleman

what I taught you about
when we get pulled over

by the police.

What should you do?

Um, put your hands up
on the dashboard

so the police don't think
you have any weapons

or to show your hands.

- And how old are you?
- 12.

I got to tell a 12-year-old

how to conduct himself

when he interface with
law enforcement

because I'm scared

that if he acts silly and does
something with his hands,

they will kill him.

They've already killed
Tamir Rice,

who was 12 years old.

So I got to teach him
how to conduct himself,

where to put his hands,
how to behave,

where to position them,

so that we can make it where?

After the end of the day,
where we going?

- Home?
- Home.

Thank you.

[emergency test pattern tone]

[sustained tone]

♪ blues rock music ♪


♪ Well, Martin's dream ♪

♪ Has become blind ♪

♪ And worse, a nightmare ♪

♪ Can't walk the streets ♪

♪ To them we are fair game ♪

♪ Our lives don't mean
a thing ♪

♪ Like a king, like a king,
like a king ♪

♪ Rodney King, Rodney King,
Rodney King ♪

♪ Like a king, like a king,
like a king ♪

♪ How I wish you could help us,
Dr. King ♪

♪ Make sure it's filmed ♪

♪ Shown on national TV ♪

♪ They'll have no mercy ♪

♪ A legal lynch mob ♪

♪ Like they strung up
from the trees ♪

♪ The LAPD ♪

♪ Like a king, like a king,
like a king ♪

♪ Rodney King, Rodney King,
Rodney King ♪

♪ Never thought that I would
make it this far ♪

♪ Yeah, I'm still in school ♪

♪ While I'm driving
foreign cars ♪

♪ Yeah,
I'm young and reckless ♪

♪ All these diamonds
on my necklace ♪

♪ You can call me MC Hammer ♪

♪ You can't touch this ♪

♪ I never fell in love ♪

♪ I'm a heartbreak kid ♪

♪ I get it how I live ♪

♪ And never forget ♪

♪ LA my city ♪

♪ I run this trick ♪

♪ I might ball like Kobe ♪

♪ And get a cup of milk, hey ♪

♪ Gotta love LA ♪

♪ Hey ♪

♪ Gotta love LA ♪

♪ Gotta love LA ♪

- ♪ This is my city ♪
- ♪ What ♪

- ♪ This is my city ♪
- ♪ What ♪

- ♪ This is my city ♪
- ♪ What ♪

- ♪ This is my city ♪