The Los Angeles Riots

In 1992, the city of Los Angeles veritably exploded in violence following the acquittal of four white Los Angeles Police officers accused of assaulting black motorist Rodney King.

For approximately six days, thousands took to the streets killing, burning, and looting the city. The National Guard was called in to help restore order and end the violence that left more than 50 dead, thousands injured and arrested, and more than a billion dollars in estimated property damage.

In the midst of all the chaos, Edward James Olmos joined Rodney King himself in pleading for calm. Mr. Olmos drove from TV station to TV station, going on the air and urging people to return to their homes, and advising any looters feeling guilty that they could return items to local churches with no questions asked.

Mr. Olmos stated at the 2010 Dallas Comic Con that he saw a young person killed right in front of him along the roadway, and yet he continued to drive through the enraged city to urge rioters to stop.

Tired after going 48 hours without rest, Mr. Olmos said he finally ended up in the streets with a broom and began sweeping. It's a relatively simple task, but the image became an iconic one, showing a single, calm man in the midst of a sea of violence and mayhem beginning to clean up his beloved city. He was soon joined by scores of others, ultimately signaling the beginning of the end of the riots and a restoration of order.

Mr. Olmos, who told of his experiences at the Dallas event, said that he didn't relate the story to make himself look good, but to remind us all of what one person can accomplish if they try.


Sources: 1) The Christian Science Monitor: L.A.'s Darkest Days; 2) NY Times: Wheels of Justice Lurch After Los Angeles Riots

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