Slow Burn: The L.A. Riots

Season 6: Episode 7

Into Ashes

April 30 felt like the calm after the storm. Then the fires started burning again.


Episode Notes

On April 29, 1992, Los Angeles had erupted into chaos. Over the following days, thousands of people took to the streets. Some were unleashing their anger at the police and the justice system. Some were driven by frustration at living in poverty in one of the world’s richest cities. And some just saw a chance to plunder while law enforcement was scrambling. This is what happened next.

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.

King, Rodney with Lawrence J. Spagnola. The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion to Redemption, HarperOne, 2012.


Barringer, Felicity. “Census Reveals a City of Displacement,” New York Times, May 15, 1992.

Braxton, Greg and Jim Newton. “Looting and Fires Ravage L.A.,” Los Angeles Times, May 1, 1992.

Caruso, Jorge. “Black-Korean Hostility Fueled Flames of Riot,” Chicago Tribune, May 8, 1992.

Clifford, Frank and David Ferrell. “L.A. Strongly Condemns King Verdicts, Riots,” Los Angeles Times, May 6, 1992.

Deaths During the L.A. Riots,” Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2012.

Dunn, Ashley. “Looters, Merchants Put Koreatown Under the Gun,” Los Angeles Times, May 2, 1992.

Hill-Holtzman, Nancy and Mathis Chazinov. “Police Credited for Heading Off Spread of Riots,” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1992.

“​​Korean Store Owner on Arming Himself for Riots,” NPR, April 27, 2012.

Lacey, Marc and Shawn Hubler. “Rioters Set Fires, Loot Stores,” Los Angeles Times, April 30, 1992.

Leibowitz, Ed. “Rodney’s Rap,” Los Angeles Times Magazine, March 28, 1999.

Lieberman, Paul. “51% of Riot Arrests Were Latino, Study Says,” Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1992.

Loc, Tim. “How a Radio Station Became Koreatown’s Lifeline During The ‘92 Unrest,” LAist, April 28, 2017.

Los Angeles Riots: Remember the 63 people who died,” Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2012.

Marisol Meraji, Shereen. “As Los Angeles Burned, the Border Patrol Swooped In,” NPR, April 27, 2017.

Miles, Jack. “Blacks vs. Browns,” the Atlantic, October 1992.

Mydans, Seth. “Pocket of Tension; A Target of Rioters, Koreatown Is Bitter, Armed, and Determined,” New York Times, May 3, 1992.

Newman, Maria. “Riots Put Focus on Hispanic Growth and Problems in South-Central Area,” New York Times, May 11, 1992.

Peterson, Jonathan and Hector Tobar. “South L.A. Burns and Grieves,” Los Angeles Times, May 1, 1992.

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

Wilkinson, Tracy. “In Pico-Union, Refugees Land in a New War Zone,” Los Angeles Times, May 11, 1992.

Slate Plus Member Content Bonus Episode

“It’s Like the Whole City Is Exploding”

More on what happened after the first day of the riots.


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.