The Emmy award-winning LA 92 is a powerful chronicle of decades of racial injustice and police brutality in the second largest city in the United States.
The bulk of the film focuses on the events of April 29, 1992. That's the day when four officers were acquitted on charges of excessive force against Rodney King, an African American motorist who was beaten mercilessly at the time of his arrest for suspected drunk driving. Following this unjust verdict, fed-up civilians waged a city-wide riot which resulted in further acts of violence and immense property damage. In the minds of many historians and cultural leaders, this event served as a much-needed wake-up call for people across the country and around the world.
As the film smartly explores, the L.A. riots of 1992 were the culmination of decades of seething racial unrest in the city. The riots of 1965 - which took place in the Watts District - were a landmark indication of the tensions between the black community and the Los Angeles Police Department. In 1991, when a Korean store owner was set free following her senseless murder of 15-year old Latasha Harlins, the lit fuse of oppression and injustice could no longer be extinguished.
The film is structured entirely around footage cultivated from news outlets and people on the street, including many images that have never before been available to the public. There's no extemporaneous narration that puts everything in tidy perspective or distances with needless editorializing. It's a living history that pulsates with the festering wounds of racism.
Even though it's presented as a grueling you-are-there montage of imagery, the film benefits from the context that nearly three decades of hindsight can bring. It's likely that many viewers will more easily recognize and understand the tremors that led to this volcanic event than they were in the moment. Above all else, the film offers an incisive anthropological study of the need to be heard, respected and to matter.
Of course, LA 92 is not only a historical document; it lives and breathes the same issues that the country continues to struggle with today.
Directed by: Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin