Twenty-three years ago, parts of Los Angeles looked something like Baltimore has in the last week, only more so. The toll in Los Angeles, after four smoldering days of mayhem that began April 29 following the acquittal of police officers in the Rodney King beating, was 53 dead, 2,000 injured, 11,000 arrested and a billion dollars in damage.
Fast-forward to the scenes of burning buildings in Baltimore, where rioting followed a funeral Monday for a 25-year-old man who died of a severed spine sustained while in police custody. The questions about whether police and firefighters could have done more to quell looting and destruction were the same ones asked back between April 29 and May 3 in Los Angeles, with no good answers forthcoming.
There’s another similarity between Los Angeles and Baltimore: Controversial use of police force on a man of color was the plunger on a powder keg decades in the making.
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