South Los Angeles residents remember 1992 riots

On April 29, 1992, Los Angeles erupted in violence following the announcement that white police officers involved in the beating of black motorist Rodney King were acquitted of charges of assault and use of excessive force. For six straight days, looting, violence, arson and death wracked urban Los Angeles as racial, cultural, and social tensions reached a peak.

Gladys Castaneda

Shopping malls and residences directly across the street from the University of Southern California’s campus went up in flames from the rioting. Gladys Castaneda has served at USC’s University Club for more than 27 years. She was in the neighborhood when the riots began in April 1992. Listen to her memories of that tumultuous time in an interview with Annenberg Radio News host Sarah Erickson.

Duane Earl

Duane Earl and his brother are the owners of Earlz Grill in South Los Angeles. The brothers started with a hot dog stand and were getting ready to open their first brick and mortar restaurant. Duane talks about the Grill’s first location when the riots hit. Rebecca Shoenkopf of Annenberg Radio News interviews.



Sika owns the store in Leimert Park. He tells the story of protecting his store Sika, which sells jeweler and African clothing and imports. Here he tells his story of how he kept his store safe with a little help from the neighbors.


Sandi Beamon

Sandi Beamon had a new born in 1992. The riots made her see her community in a different light.


Larry Weintraub

Larry Weintraub is one of the owners of Randy’s Donuts. The riots didn’t cross to the west side of the 405, but Weintraub was bombarded with something else – police officers.


Julius Dorsey

Julius Dorsey is the director of transportation for Watts Health Center. The riots didn’t stop him from doing his job.


Marcus Anderson

Marcus Anderson worked next door to a Korean liquor store that burned down – but not from what you would expect.


Jeffery Walls

Jeffery Walls remembers exactly where he was when the riots started.


Richard Speed, Jr.

Richard Speed Sr. lived in South Central in 1992. As he sees it, the riots were misdirected.


  1. Ike Moses says:

    The second audio clip doesn’t have a picture or text description, but it sounds like Duane Earle from Earlez Grille. Am I right?

  2. West Side Rebel says:

    Larry Weintraub,the owner of Randy’s Donuts, thinks the riots didn’t cross to the west side of the 405fwy ( this acts as a defacto “border boundary” that gives many west siders some reassurance of “safety” from the rest of “wild LA”… Is t…hat racist and classist?, fo sho!) … for the most part that limiting line is true… but not completely… it hit Venice too, although not nearly as hard as South Central… I know thi…s cuz i was there… You could see some of its affects off of Lincoln blvd near California Ave, in particularly i remember the wheel/rim store that got busted up and looted. Tensions in LA were city wide, but they weren’t all stemming from Rodney King, rather more a response to F’d up conditions festering. People dont always see Venice like this due to the gentrification that hides its scars and its army of enforcer police cars, but its still the hood on the beach and for that matter its the last hood on the beach on the west coast, although LB still got some community holdin it down near the shore. Venice has a long strong Black n Brown history that needs to be reclaimed and not forgotten in the muck of mainstream historical reflection… Resistance and rebellion is everywhere in LA with its tensions building within its pockets of oppressed communities and its contingent labor “allowed” to exist only so that the wealthy can live the lives they wish to live through the subsidies squeezed out of the poor folk nearby. From Venice Oakwood to Santa Monica 17th street to Culver City projects to Lennox, we can find West side communities full of agency strugglin to survive and they will be part of the rebellions for dignity and equity regardless of how the media and historians want to frame it. RBG!

  3. Emily Henry says:

    This is a really fantastic insight into what the 1992 riots were about, and how it felt to be part of the community at the time. I love the pictures too! Great job Sarah!

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