2 trials have L.A. fearing the worst
Jonathan T. Lovitt ;Richard Price
LOS ANGELES - This city is bracing for the next round in the Rodney King
case - and this time there are two trials to worry about instead of one.
Jury selection opens Wednesday in the federal case against four white police
officers charged with violating King's civil rights in the now-famous videotaped
In March, there's the trial of three black men charged with beating trucker
Reginald Denny during riots sparked by the acquittal of police last spring.
Some worry that the white officers will be acquitted and the black men
``Violence is not the answer, but if that happens it's going to be sad,'' says
Georgiana Williams, mother of Damien ``Football'' Williams, a defendant in the
Denny case. ``They're just going to shoot every white person they see.''
Businesses are hiring security. Apartment-dwellers are moving into high- rise
buildings. Thousands have bought guns.
Schools are teaching how to protest non-violently. Churches are preaching peace.
Police, criticized for failing to stop riots that killed 53 and caused more than $1
billion in damage, say they're ready.
``There will be no doubt in anyone's mind what the role of the police is to be in a
civil disturbance,'' says Lt. John Dunkin of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The Police Commission voted last week to ask for $1 million in riot equipment,
including rubber bullets and tear-gas bombs.
The police force is developing an emergency plan, and all officers are taking 16
hours of riot training. County sheriff's deputies are gearing up, too.
Gov. Pete Wilson's spokesman, Franz Wisner, says, ``We have to plan for the
worst-case scenario.'' The state's chief of law enforcement met here Friday with
city leaders about bringing in the National Guard.
Mayor Tom Bradley's office has launched a Neighbor to Neighbor program,
which has sent out 23 organizers to assemble teams for canvassing
neighborhoods and giving people ``a feeling of empowerment,'' says
spokesperson Val Bunting.
Also under consideration: Imposing a curfew and delaying the verdict so police
can reach possible trouble spots.
Asian-Americans, hit hard by the riots because they are resented for owning
many of the businesses in predominantly black neighborhoods, already are taking
The leasing office of Park LaBrea in Fairfax District - a gated community with
24-hour guards - is packed with Koreans seeking apartments.
Patty Nadee, who lost her Thai restaurant to arson in the riot, moved to a
location 10 blocks away and plans to add security when the verdict nears. But
she still worries.
She says a crowd from south central came to her door one night, and ``they told
me that if I didn't give them food right away, they'd be back after the trial.''
Pausing, she adds, ``I cannot go through this again.''
CUTLINE:KING: Now a civil rights case CUTLINE:FEARS A REPEAT: Patty
Nadee lost her Thai restaurant to arson after last year's riots. `I cannot go through
this again,' she says.
PHOTO,b/w,Reuters; PHOTO,b/w,Bob Riha Jr.,Gamma-Liaison