Daniel Lindsay and T. J. Martin direct Rodney King, Daryl Gates and Stacey Koon in this collage documentary of news footage and home video depicting the causes and incidents of the LA riots.
A very powerful motion scrapbook, creating a damning mosaic of what exactly happened in Los Angeles after the beating of Rodney King, the murder of Latasha Harlins and the provocative court decisions that followed these crimes in quick succession. In all honesty, the expansive O.J.: Made in America mini-series explores Police Chief Daryl Gates’ fascistic running of the LAPD and his controversial, black community persecuting CRASH policy with more depth and room. Undoubtedly these were the fuels that burned LA and the controversial verdicts of two high profile court cases in quick succession were the ignition. But the savagery depicted in the riots is genuinely unnerving even 25 years later. Crips and Bloods joining forces, years of gang brutality being mobilised against non-black citizens and businesses. The chaos on the corner of Florence and Normandie, where mobs of youths inflicted recreations of what happened to Rodney King on passing white motorists. The haunting image of truck driver, Reginald Denny, stripped and spray painted black, left for dead after a vicious mass stomping. A disturbed man casually walking the streets, setting light to every tree he passes, no one stopping him. The anguish of small business owners left to defend or pick through the rubble of their American dreams. The sight of the LAPD and the National Guard standing back for days, letting the poor areas eat themselves up before moving in – Incompetency? Or a statement? The documentary never comments through narration or talking heads or title cards, though obviously chooses what footage to include and what to juxtapose it with. It makes for a traumatising history. One that puts films like Falling Down, Trespass and even Do The Right Thing in a prophetic context. One that visually informs The Purge films with their increasingly ‘woke’ power.