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Wattsriots-burning
The Watts Riots in LA in 1965
Picture credit: Wikipedia

I have been watching the News for the past week with a very heavy heart, as each day, as the events unfold in Ferguson, painful, ugly and difficult memories are brought back.

What is happening there,  is in many ways quite similar to what we in LA and the surrounding areas experienced with Rodney King, in the 1990’s.

And both of these are entirely too much like the LA Riots in Watts in the 1960’s.

Then there was the Trayvon Martin murder, here in Orlando and the Trial and the verdict that once again met with violent public reaction and out cries everywhere.

All of these tragic events, these sad places,  have touched my life, none in a good way.

That  week in  August of 1965 during the Watts Riots,  was a time of total violence and great turmoil and no one liked what was happening.

Few were sure, including the law enforcement, as to how to find a solution before the City was left in ashes.

In time, it did stop, but not before the deep scars were in place and bitter memories that would last for many, a lifetime.

Next came Rodney King, only this time it was brought right to my own front yard.

The Trial for those who brutalized King was held in my town of Simi Valley.

It was all such an ugly time for a tiny peaceful place.

It seemed to drag on forever and then the verdict came, that no one was prepared to handle, especially the Police.

I left West LA that day and drove towards home, wondering what may lie ahead.

I could not have been prepared for what came next.

As I tried to get off of the Freeway at my Exit, which was for the time of day that it was, unusually backed up onto the Freeway.

When I finally got to the bottom of the ramp, I saw why.

Every single car there was being stopped and examined by a uniformed patrolman, who asked to see ID proving that the person driving did indeed, live in this particular neighborhood.

This was a disturbing, frightening and very unpleasant experience.

My house was about a mile from the freeway and the troubled exit, but only two blocks from the hysterical scene that was happening at the Court House.

It looked like a war zone, or a movie set.

There were huge crowds of onlookers, countless TV crews, Police cars, SWAT crews, my God it was all just terrifying.

But our small town’s terror was about to be unleashed on all of the City, as the turmoil that day in Simi, quickly spread to all of LA and once again, as in the 60’s with Watts, the violence, looting, shootings and arrests, were soon out of control.

When it thankfully began to calm down many days later, we all wondered how and why this could just keep happening.

Why was it always black and white, white police, black victims?

Now once again, in Ferguson, this Country is experiencing another Racially inspired reaction, to what is now being called a racially motivated murder and the results are, as before, violent, dangerous, out of control crowds, venting their frustrations and setting the stage once again, for probably another ugly Trial.

God help us, why can’t we stop this pattern?

Why don’t we learn?

What will it take for this Country to mend our Racial wounds, to stop the Violence and to stop the Hate?

Why are so many, who should know better, doing all of the wrong things?

Governors, Police Chiefs, Judges, Lawyers,  everyone who should and could be using their years of wisdom and experience to calm things, seem to only be pouring fuel onto the already out of control fires.

For the lack of a better explanation, it seems that too often, these people care more about their political careers and futures, than doing what is right, or best, for what is happening right now.

Perhaps it is time for an uninvolved neutral, or third-party, to get involved in these kinds of tragedies because those who should know better and behave better, really could use some better ideas.

The ones they are using now, are just not working.

 

Places to learn more:

Watts Riot

Rodney King trial verdict announced

Shooting of Trayvon Martin

Governor Nixon orders National Guard to Ferguson

 

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