On March 3rd, 1991 a video tape appeared that shocked the world. This was before the age of cell phones cams. The tape was of four police officers brutally beating an African-American man named Rodney King. This kind of tape was very unusual at the time and it quickly became an issue around the world.
The four police officers were put on trial and over a year later on April 29th, 1992 they were acquitted of all charges. Almost immediately rioting started breaking out. There was a difference from the rioting that took place after the King Assassination in 1968 in that the rioters went into non-black neighbors - especially in the Korean community. Violence was directed at people driving in neighborhoods and they were pulled from their cars and beaten badly.
In addition, fires broke out all over the city. Los Angeles was a city in flames. Over 50 people were killed over the six days of riots and an enormous $1.6 billion in damage (in 2011 dollars).
At end of the riots, a remarkable event occurred when citizens of all races showed up by the thousands with brooms, shovels and equipment to volunteer to help clean up the riot torn neighborhoods.
The Los Angeles Times is doing a remarkable series of articles, timelines and photo essays on the anniversary. Here are some of the photographs from that series.