Slow Burn: The L.A. Riots

Season 6: Episode 6

No Peace

After the verdicts, Los Angeles erupted into fire and chaos.


Episode Notes

In March 1991, Black people in Los Angeles had seen the videotape of Rodney King being beaten. In November, they’d seen Soon Ja Du sentenced to probation for killing 15-year-old Latasha Harlins. On April 29, 1992, a jury failed to convict the officers who beat King. That was the last straw.

Season 6 of Slow Burn is produced by Joel Anderson, Jayson De Leon, Ethan Brooks, Sophie Summergrad, and Jasmine Ellis.

Mixing by Merritt Jacob.

Sources for This Episode:


Cannon, Lou. Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD, Random House, 1997.


Braun, Stephen and Leslie Berger. “Chaos and Frustration at Florence and Normandie,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 1992.

Blackstone, John. “Two Brothers Recall LA Riots 20 Years Later,” CBS News, April 27, 2012.

Buncombe, Andrew. “LA Riots: Rioter in infamous footage of trucker being pulled from vehicle says ‘nothing has changed’ since 1992,” the Independent, May 4, 2020.

Cannon, Lou. “Worlds Collide at Florence and Normandie,” Washington Post, Jan. 26, 1998.

Chandler, Jenna, Adrian Glick Kudler, and Bianca Barragan. “Mapping the 1992 LA Uprising,” Curbed Los Angeles, May 1, 2020.

Charting the Hours of Chaos,” Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2002.

Connell, Rich. “Gates’ Absence Early in Riot to Be Examined,” Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1992.

DeLuca, Matthew. “Bob Tur, the L.A. Riots’ Eye in the Sky, on Reginald Denny & More,” the Daily Beast, April 26, 2012.

Gray, Madison. “The L.A. Riots: 15 Years After Rodney King,” Time, April 27, 2007.

Hall, Jane. “​​Watson Apologizes for Denny Assault,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 9, 1993.

Hubler, Shawn. “Black Leaders Accuse Gates of Inflaming Racial Tensions,” Los Angeles Times, April 29, 1992.

Hubler, Shawn, Myrna Oliver, and Larry Gordon. “Genesis of a Riot,” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1992.

Leibowitz, Ed. “Becoming Zoey Tur,” Los Angeles Magazine, Dec. 22, 2014.

McMillan, Penelope. “After First Moments, Cameraman Lost Empathy With Rioters,” Los Angeles Times, May 6, 1992.

Medina, Jennifer. “The L.A. Riots 25 Years Later: A Return to the Epicenter,” New York Times, April 28, 2017.

Mydans, Seth. “In Los Angeles Riots, a Witness With Videotapes,” New York Times, July 31, 1992.

Newton, Jim. “The Night the LAPD Failed,” Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2012.

Shales, Tom. “The Whole World Was Watching,” Washington Post, May 1, 1992.

Stolberg, Sheryl. “Leaders Appeal for Calm After King Verdict,” Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1992.

The L.A. Riots: 25 Years Later,” Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2017.

Tobar, Hector and Leslie Berger. “Verdict Greeted With Relief and Elation Among Lapd Officers,” Los Angeles Times, April 30, 1992.

Whitman, David. “The Untold Story of the LA Riot,” US News & World Report, May 23, 1993.


[8/19/94: Mike Hillmann item A14991/CS], Lou Cannon Rodney King papers, Mss 258. Department of Special Research Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

[Daryl Gates at Prop F. Fundraiser, on the Eve of the Riots, Apr. 29, 1992 Tape No. A22101/CS], Stanley K. Sheinbaum Collection, Mss 217. Department of Special Research Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Slate Plus Member Content Bonus Episode

Watching the L.A. Riots Erupt

More from journalist Zoey Tur, who witnessed the violence and disruption from her news helicopter above the city in 1992.


About the Show

In 1992, a jury failed to convict the four Los Angeles police officers who’d been captured on videotape beating Rodney King. The city erupted into fire and chaos—the culmination of decades of unchecked police abuse and racial injustice.

For the sixth season of Slate’s Slow Burn, Joel Anderson returns to explore the people and events behind the biggest civil disturbance in American history—a story that’s still playing out today.

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  • Joel Anderson is a staff writer at Slate and the host of Seasons 3 and 6 of Slow Burn. Previously, he worked as a reporter on sports, culture, and politics for ESPN and BuzzFeed News.