The riots in Los Angeles in 1992, following the infamous Rodney King police use-of-force trial, put us all on notice as to the powder keg we’re living in.
A single court case is enough to send hundreds, even thousands of people into the street looking for violent payback.
And as truck driver Reginald Denny found out during those riots, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time wearing the wrong skin color, you could end up beaten within inches of losing your life.
That’s what happened when Denny, a construction truck driver, was nearly beaten to death by four men whose assault was captured by a news helicopter.
Denny learned a powerful lesson that day about how vulnerable he was to attack.
So what can WE learn from the 1992 riots about how to handle sudden mob violence?
Well, I asked Scott Reitz (an LA police officer on the scene during the riot!) about lessons he learned from the encounter and below is my synopsis of what he told me…
Four Survival Lessons From The 1992 LA Riots!
Anyone who was there will tell you that the riots took everybody by surprise in '92.
Remember, this was in an era before social media and smartphones.
It took only hours from the time the verdict was read for Los Angeles to explode into civil unrest and violence.
It was literally overwhelming.
There were fires everywhere.
It was other-worldly.
Remember these riot survival lessons!
Riot Survival Lesson One: When The Rules Are Off, People Will Do Anything
The first thing we can take away from those riots is that when people feel the social mores and rules they obey don’t apply, they will do ANYTHING.
That includes dragging a man out of his truck and beating him nearly to death… just for being white.
If you’re the wrong color in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could DIE, even though you’ve done nothing.
A riot turns your neighbors into MONSTERS who will commit almost any act.
Riot Survival Lesson Two: The Police CAN’T (Or WON’T) Help You!
Another horrifying fact of the LA riots was that a lot of the police simply stayed at the command post.
Police are people too, and they want to save their lives just like you do.
Facing overwhelming odds, they may just choose not to endanger themselves.
Riot Survival Lesson Three: It Will Become WAR Quickly
If you think your neighborhood can’t become a legitimate war zone, think again.
During the LA Riots, the only groups that went out were guys from Metropolitan Division, who ended up in a major firefight at 114th and Central.
It lasted for almost TWO HOURS and was unbelievably intense.
It sounded like Vietnam.
The officers were taking incoming rounds from gang members with stolen guns.
They were using rifles to gun down the cops.
There were literally DOZENS of people armed and firing, shooting transformers and blacking out the city.
Air units couldn’t go up because they would get brought down by small arms fire.
Firefighters who responded were also shot up.
It was total chaos — and it all happened INCREDIBLY QUICKLY.
Riot Survival Lesson Four: PAY ATTENTION
What this all means for you is that you’ve got to keep your ear to the ground.
See what’s going on in terms of news.
Pay close attention to potential issues that could explode into civil unrest.
You can’t afford to ignore current events.
Your knowledge of what is happening out there may be the only advance warning of a riot that you get!
A simple shooting, a court case, or any other flashpoint could be the catalyst that your city requires to become a war zone.