The Change Agent – LA Riots 25 Years Revisited

the change agent book

Indirectly, the LA riots were forced order change by a community that was tired of violations of the core values they subscribed; namely life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The violence of those days for me, even 25 years later, are indelibly imprinted in my mind. I lost a car to theft and vandalism during the riots.

I remember driving back northwest along the 405-freeway crossing the 605 North, and going to the 710 South in the middle of the afternoon from my job. The business closed early due to safety concerns. Along that drive, I could see the smoke billowing from the normal scenic view of Los Angeles miles away. Along the Freeways I saw what looked like a mile of black and white police cars with lights flashing driving north to the city. As I looked at the surreal view I could only compare the site to my military days where I sometimes served as military convoy commander for certain operations. I knew the site was unlike any other I had seen as a civilian.

In the days that followed, I saw the National Guard deployed with peace keepers in the middle of intersections in Long Beach, and martial law implemented. Long Beach mirrored the carnage of LA, and I remember driving along the main streets that looked like a third world country after a military campaign with store fronts burned out and broken windows and debris for block after block.

Police interactions in LA before and after the riots differed. The end did not justify the means, where as a society today communities address that Black Lives matter, and conversely all lives matter; including men and women in blue.

Idealistically, I would hope compassionately that all law enforcement engaged in questioning, pulling over someone, or effecting an arrest would treat those individuals, regardless of race, color, creed, or sexual orientation, like they were their own biological offspring. Equally, I would hope that actions of mutual respect would be afforded law enforcement with the same dignity and respect they would desire for their own loved ones.

No parent wants to get that phone call where their child or loved one has been abused or terminated with callous disregard for the well being of their loved one. All lives matter. My hope is that we too evolve in accepting and respecting our differences while carrying out our respective responsibilities in a manner that is reflective our own individual greater good. For if, “Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.”

As this 25 Year anniversary of the riots comes along, let’s collectively remember to, “Increase the Peace”.