2 trials have L.A. fearing the worst

  Jonathan T. Lovitt ;Richard Price


  USA Today


  Page 03A

  (Copyright 1993)


  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