Photos by Hope Burleigh

On Thursday, April 29, 1992, the world and universe intertwined and became a huge shitshow! After four punk-ass officers, who gave the mother of all beatings to the late Rodney King, (April 2, 1965 – June 17, 2012) the unthinkable happened. Out of the four, three were acquitted and one didn’t have to testify; all hell broke loose. Everyone on the planet was affected even if they didn’t know who King was. Thanks to the cops getting off free, everyone instantly became King aficionados. The black and white, grainy video recording image shows King lying on the street while being viciously attacked with batons. It was horrifying to watch.

Writer David Johann Kim takes us back over 30 years ago, when the verdict was heard. The streets of South-Central Los Angeles suddenly became a torrid war zone. People literally lost their minds. A lot of looting and pent-up frustrations were unleashed and many people were hurt. Shop owners looked on helplessly watching the destruction of their businesses unfold. On the day of the verdict being read, Two-Stop Liquor storeowner Jong (June Soo Ham played it damn well!) has cameras surrounding his business. He sees cars being bombed and people running amok, either in person or on TV. As he secures his location, GG, (played wonderfully by the talented Iyanna Jennaé) a young African American teen, walks in looking what can easily be taken. She looks over at the temptations neatly stacked: Hostess Twinkies, oatmeal crème pies, Pringles in 8-ounce cans. When Jong is out of sight, she boosts a few items but he catches her.GG automatically denies stealing anything but Jong knows better. As he chases her around with his limp leg, GG locks herself inside the counter with plexiglass protecting her.

Now what? Jong demands she come out, but being a rebellious teenager, she tells him what he can do with his empty threats. Jong takes her insults to heart. It is a family business. His brother worked there and both experienced retaliation which led to physical injuries. In Jong’s case, he walks with a permanent limp. The defiant teenager and weary owner both have their eyes glued on the small television. They can see the world blowing up from their secured positions. When the threats begin to wane, they share their personal experiences with racism. The temperature begins to cool down as both tell their stories. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere comes Sunny (Suzen Baraka kills it!) GG’s mother. She’s livid with her headstrong daughter taking too long going to the store. When Sunny sees Jong, she looks both surprised and angry at first sight. There’s a hint of past romantic feelings that quickly went south as they speak. The night hits a major trifecta with the roar of an angry mob, looters taking what isn’t nailed down and the sound of helicopters crossing the night sky. It’s been a hell of a day.

Writer David Johann Kim gets it. He gets how high and deep emotions can run in a community ready to pop. He understands that suppressed emotions will bubble to the surface when people have had enough of being mistreated. It’s not just the crowd giving hell it’s also those watching as their neighborhood collapses and there’s nothing anyone can do.

In the end, all three realize they are stronger together than separately. Director Tracey A. Leight did a remarkable job in conveying what can happen when people come together— either adding to the chaos or trying to survive it— and figure out what the outcome will be.


  • The riots lasted six days causing over 1 billion in property damages,
  • Over 50 people were killed, 2,300 and more were injured,
  • Roughly 6,000 accused looters and arsonists were arrested,
  • By year’s end, it was recorded that there were nearly over 1,000 homicides.
  • The late rapper Eazy-E and Theodore J. Briseno were introduced by their mutual attorney. The former NWA front man supported Briseno during trial.
  • Briseno went outside LAPD’s blue wall and testified against his fellow officers saying they were “out of control.” Soon, he was fired.
  • After King’s beating, Korean shop owner Soon Ja Du shot to death 15-year-old Latasha Harlins for stealing a bottle of orange juice. Harlins died with $2 in her hand. Soon Ja Du never re-opened and moved.
  • Former plumber George Holliday taped the King beating. The nine-minute footage violently shows the officers beating King. Holliday sold his incriminated tape for $500 to KTLA-TV Channel 5. He died on Saturday, September 19, 2021, in a Simi-Valley Hospital, from Covid. He was 61.
  • Former police chief Darryl F. Gates was fired for not responding sooner to the riots. He died at home in Dana Point, California on Friday April 16, 2010, from bladder cancer. He was 83.



WHERE: Atwater Village Theatre; located at 3269 Casitas Ave., in Los Angeles.

WHEN: Thurs-Sat , June 6-8 at 8 p.m., Sun, June 9 at 7.

WHY: The past is never, truly far behind.

RUN TIME: Running time is 75 minutes without an intermission.

HOW MUCH: $35 for general, $30 for seniors, $25 for students.


LOCATION: 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90039