1992 Riots Through Cold Lens Of Cameras

Now, when 25 years have passed since 1992 Riots, it's hard to imagine that photographers risked their lives to keep those moments for the future.

On April 29, 1992, a Los Angeles court found four police officers not guilty in the brutal beating of the Black motorist Rodney King. Within hours, the city was on fire, and it burned for days, creating a defining moment for Black resistance and the long, dark history of race in America. Now, when 25 years have passed since the tragic events of 1992 Riots, it’s hard to imagine that journalists and photographers literally risked their lives to keep those moments for the future.


Here are the recollections of some journalists who were there. While you’re in it, you never really think about it. I was thinking, ‘That picture, if it was on any other corner, the background would have been a burning building.’ It was a park fence. But I remember thinking, ‘If it was on any other corner, it would have been a more impactful photo.’” (c) Steve Dykes

The skeleton of a burned car sits at the intersection of Normandie and Florence 4/29/1992. LA riots (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)


They were standing up for their own survival. They were merely trying to protect what was rightfully their own. For most immigrant businesses, all of your savings and assets are in the inventory of the stores, and most of those stores don’t have insurance. When their stores went up in flames, they lost life savings; they lost everything.” (c)  Hyungwon Kang


“A guy pulls out a .45 and puts it to my temple and says, ‘If you take my picture, I’ll blow your head off.’ He’s got the gun, he’s shaking it at me, and I’m saying, ‘I didn’t take your picture!’ And he says, ‘Yeah you did, I oughta waste you right now!’ And at that point, I just opened up the back of the camera and gave him the film and said, ‘Here, whatever I just shot, take it.’” (c) Kirk McKoy

People march calling for peace during the Los Angeles Riots in Koreatown, Los Angeles, California in this May 2,1992, file photo. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the L.A. Riots.   REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/Los Angeles Times/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW ANNIVERSARY SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST) NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. MANDATORY CREDIT ORG XMIT: HWK128

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