In April 1992 the city of Los Angeles erupted into riots after four white LAPD officers were acquitted in the beating trial of Rodney King. This documentary backtracks to 1982 to establish the political and social context that fueled the unrest. After years of racial turmoil and such injustices as the shooting of Latasha Harlins by a Korean shop-owner, South Central was a powder keg and the authorities ill-equipped to deal with the three days of extreme violence.
Working with reporters from ABC News, Ridley’s illumination of the myriad factors at play provides crucial insight without resorting to pat simplification. Interviewees include members of law enforcement, eyewitnesses and on-the-ground participants, but the import of their roles is only slowly revealed. Sobering helicopter shots of the violence and devastation tell the story, along with that familiar but still shocking footage of the King beating. Don’t turn away from this riveting and illuminating exploration of racial injustice.