Fresno man recalls L.A. riots, 20 years later

FRESNO, Calif.

Outrage over the Rodney Kings case, 20 years ago, set off six days of rioting and looting.

Steven Hood of Fresno was at a bus stop in Downtown Los Angeles, just a few miles from where the riots began. He says on that night, 20 years ago, he remembers running for his life as a violent mob headed in his direction. He said it was the most surreal and frightening event he's ever witnessed.

In April of 1992, fires and tempers raged in Downtown Los Angeles. Rioters destroyed more than a thousand buildings and injured thousands of people during the 1992 riots.

Steven Hood was an eyewitness to the chaos. "It was just hard to believe that the people would do this to their own city."

Hood lived in Los Angeles 20 years ago. He was a 27-year-old teacher. The night the riots began he was taking a college class. At the same time, violent scenes were being aired on live TV. "When we came back from the break, they had moved the TV in and they were showing what was going on. The teacher decided, for your safety, they sent everyone home."

Hood says shortly after his class let out, he was waiting on a street corner for his bus ride home, when the angry mob moved toward him. "All of the sudden we heard a thunderous road coming up first street. So we went to the corner to look and there was just a huge crowd. A mob of people. They had signs and sticks and they were throwing things. And they were coming our way."

He says he ran as fast as he could to get away. Hours would pass before hood made his way home to Echo Park. "You couldn't believe the things that were happening, it was just really crazy."

The riots were sparked by the acquittal of four LAPD officers who had been accused in the beating of Rodney King during a traffic stop. In the end, the riots claimed the lives of 53 people, and nearly a billion dollars in damage was left behind.

Hood says after that first day he left Los Angeles to stay with friends until the violence ended. Hood now lives in Fresno. He says he hasn't watched the video from the riots for several years.

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