Report from the Los Angeles Rebellion

Excerpt from Shockwaves: Report from the L.A. Rebellion, Part 1

by Michael Slate

The fire and smoke may be gone but the signs of the rebellion are everywhere as we drive through the streets of Los Angeles's Black and Latino neighborhoods. On one corner an entire shopping mall has been turned into a charred shell criss-crossed on the inside by hundreds of blackened metal rods. A block away a three-sided building with no floors is identified as a bank by the sign that seems to have melted into what remains of the front wall. "Fuck tha Police" is spray-painted everywhere; so is the slogan “Black Power." In some neighborhoods"Revolution Is the Only Solution" and the RCP May Day Manifestos decorate the walls. And these scenes are repeated mile after mile all across the city. That's one thing that is really striking about the L.A. Uprising – it was huge! When the fires burned they must have looked like a wall of flame coming across the city.

But more important than the physical evidence of the uprising, you can see how alive the rebellion still is in the people themselves. You can see it clearly in how quick they are to smile and laugh – and how their eyes dance – when they talk about those few days of freedom. And you can see it in the way the oppressed brothers and sisters carry themselves these days – in a way they have changed forever. As we rode through these neighborhoods just trying to get an overview of the situation and gathering up some initial impressions, the words of a brother I had met just a few hours after arriving in the city rang in my head. As we sat talking about the rebellion this brother, a Black man in his late thirties, talked about how he saw the uprising. "When you go out and see the communities I want you to remember what I say. They all talking about how could we just go and destroy the communities we live in. Well, to me it's more like these are the communities we are dying in and that's why we need to destroy them. And I’ll tell you one thing, something happened to me after this riot that I didn't ever think was going to happen. For the very first time in all my 38 years of life, I went into a store and someone said, 'Good morning, sir. Can I help you?'"

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