6 Powerful Documentaries You Need To See To Understand The Importance of the L.A. Riots

25 years later, educate yourself on the riots that left dozens dead and much of South Central L.A. in ruins.


Image via VH1


On the night of March 3rd, 1992, in the Lake View Terrace area of Los Angeles, four LAPD police officers were caught on tape beating and tasing Rodney King, a black man who had refused to pull over for a traffic stop. The video incited outrage within the Black community and even though the four officers were charged and went to trial, on April 29th, 1992, they were all acquitted. Within hours of the verdict, riots broke out in South Central L.A. and spread throughout the city, igniting centuries-old flames of racial discrimination. Police failed to respond quickly, and as time went on, the chaos remained violent, uncontrolled, and televised. One of the most harrowing and memorable scenes is four black men pulling out a truck driver named Reginald Denny from his truck on the intersection of Florence and Nightingale and nearly beating him to death. The riots lasted five days but caused more than $1 billion in damages and took over 50 lives. 

It is vital to remember that none of this happened in a vacuum. The rage we can now comfortable witness from our screens is certainly powerful, but without the proper background, we may forget that the lootings, fires, and beatings were desperate responses to a long line of systemic racism. We must understand history in order to not repeat it, right? So sit down and watch these six documentaries to truly understand the environment that incited those riots 25 years ago. 

Let It Fall: LA 1982-1992

Let It Fall

The Lost Tapes: L.A. Riots

Lost Tapes

O.J.: Made in America

OJ Simpson

Crips and Bloods: Made in America

Blood Crips

Bastards of the Party

Bastards of the Party

Uprising: Hip Hop and the LA Riots


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