FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
My Personal Story of the Los Angeles Riots
Video of fires during the 3 days of unrest in LA city with live Los Angeles Fire Department, LAFD, radio with Office Civilian Department, OCD, as Firefighters and paramedics get bottled and shot at while trying to put out large building fires and protecting anyone exposed to danger. Freedom is very precious, and lost before we realize just how precious it is. I was working in Culver City in 1992. The Policemen were found not guilty. It wasn’t long before the city came to a crashing halt. The looting and riots were happening a mile from where I worked. Because the city was out of control, everyone lost their freedom for three Days; freedom that we all took for granted.
How do we take our freedom for granted? It`s a gradual process. We have been free for so long, it`s second nature. Freedom is all they know, yet so many live below the poverty level and they don`t have time to worry about freedom. They are too busy making a living, or when they can’t feed their family, or their address is a park bench or cardboard box. The question becomes how do we worry about freedom when some are not treated as equals. We can lose our freedom when things get out of control. Anarchy replaces and everyone suffers.
Freedom is not free.
Before the Los Angeles Riots, the words anarchy and Martial Law were words I had to look up in a dictionary. Anarchy is Lawlessness or disorder in any sphere of activity. Martial Law is temporary rule by military authority. Civil authority suffers. Martial Law steps in. Something failed in Los Angeles. For three days Martial Law became part of our daily life.
When everything starts, it‘s just like a news story on TV—I am detached. I just know that the police will arrive on the scene at any moment. When they don’t arrive, I start to think, what if I was the one being pulled from my car? Then it becomes real for me. The last thing on my mind before falling asleep that night is the absolute knowledge that the police will take care of everything.
The next day I go to work like usual. And I watch with everyone else as the chaos of anarchy begins to unravel the secure feeling of my safe little world.
Each report of looting and damage is getting closer and closer to Culver City and the Los Angeles Teleport. Everyone is sent home when the smoke from the fires reach Culver City.
My Son-In-Law, Mike, works with me so I leave my car at work and go home with him. The drive to El Segundo normally takes 15 minutes; today it takes over two hours. While sitting on the Culver Boulevard overpass, I can see streets reaching out in all directions.
It looks like a scene from a science fiction movie where everyone is trying to leave town at the same time and no one is getting anywhere. In every direction, as far as I can see, there are cars bumper to bumper. As I turn around one last time, I see the sky rapidly changing to black as if a black hole had appeared out of thin air to swallow everything in its path.
By the time we get home the television reports are saying that Martial Law will be part of our lives. We don’t know how long it will be. Martial Law—isn’t that something that happens in other countries? Surely it can’t happen in the United States of America.
What’s going to happen? The baby needs milk. Do we have enough food and for how long? Mike and I go to the store to get milk and bread. The stores are full and people are pushing. The shelves are practically empty. Quick, I think, grab that milk; there are just a few of them left. This is America? Can this really be happening?
All night long, alarms, fire engines, and police sirens remind me that it really is happening. Who can sleep in this? I watched the clock all night. I get up and turn on the television. I wonder. Is it getting closer? Finally, I fall asleep. When I wake the next morning, I’m afraid. I smell smoke. Where can it be coming from? Did the fires move closer in the night?
I quickly turn on the television to see what is happening. Everyone can smell the smoke; a thick black cloud saturating the very air we breathe. The smell of smoke is in everything. It’s the kind of smell that forest fires produce and even firemen dread. How can I ever forget the smell? It represents the smell of fear, hatred, violence, and desperation.
For the Firemen-women, the Policemen-women and National Guard; shot trying to help.
Sacrificing their lives so we are free THANK YOU!
Video of fires during the 3 days of unrest in LA city with live Los Angeles Fire Department, LAFD, radio with OCD as Firefighters and paramedics get bottles thrown at them and shot while trying to put out large building fires and protecting people. Video of fires during the 3 days of unrest in LA city with live LAFD radio with OCD as Firefighters and paramedics continue to get bottles thrown at them and shot at while trying to put out large building fires and protecting exposures. Video of fires during the 3 days of unrest in LA city with live LAFD radio and OCD as Firefighters and paramedics continue to get bottles thrown at them and shot at while trying to put out large building fires and protecting exposures. ***The Video is poor; however, it is correct.***
Meeting my son-in-law, Mike, at Davenport, Iowa presented me with a number of surprises. Mike was helping a friend move. I wanted to see the birth of my first great-grandchild. The plan was to meet Mike in Davenport and he would drive the rest of the way to UT. Sounds simple. Not so. We have navigational devices and electronic maps. Unfortunately my iPhone doesn’t speak directions. Where were the good old days when maps were readily available.
So I was on my way with my dachshund Mini Max, his cage along with everything for nearly a nearly two month stay. Due to road construction and detours, I missed my turn in Columbus, OH. At the first rest stop I met a good Samaritan who gave me his map and put me on the right track again; it took me straight to Davenport. At one of the stops, my puppy found a skunk nest and for a while we both smelled like skunk. I began to get tired and started looking for a place to stay. There is absolutely nothing on the east side heading to toward Peoria.
That is how I ended up in a cemetery. It had been dark, really dark for a while. Heavenly Manor should have been a dead give away. It just looked so inviting with all the lights. There was only one way in and the darkness was permeating everything. I turned the lights on my car to find the road to the Manor. NOT A GOOD IDEA! I was right in the middle of an old decaying cemetery! Do you think I was thinking about a movie I saw in the 70’s or 80’s called “Phantasm?” I was! It was the kind of movie where unsuspecting teenagers wander into a mausoleum and get chased by a ghoul and a flying ball with wings that turns them into zombies! I turned around and headed back to the highway as fast as I could, thinking car don’t fail me now. OK. I have a vivid imagination and I don’t like being in a cemetery in the middle of the dark alone. When I saw Mike I was so happy to give him the keys and leave the driving to him. Of course seeing my Great Grandson being born made everything worth it.
Some memories stay with you long after the real event. I dedicate this one to a friend and colleague for many years. David Moore was a gentle and kind soul. He has been gone a week but it seems longer. Davey as we knew him would appreciate the humor in this one. I have never seen Davey on a down day. We both worked at the WOUB transmitter at one time or another. Everyone loves a mystery and I was often asked about how did I get in the transmitter without my keys? I’m 5 foot tall and the lowest window was 6 feet off the ground. A transmitter was usually built high on a hill and as far back on a deserted road as possible. My sister had dropped me off and as soon as she left I had that feeling when something bad is moments away. KEYS! I looked for the keys and kept coming up empty. It was early in my career and light years before cell phones. The situation looked bleak. Panic was rearing its ugly head and then I stopped and thought about the situation. I needed to sign on so everyone could receive their Radio and Television. People were counting on me. My keys were obviously at home and the transmitter door was locked. The window was too high to reach. My options were running out fast. I took responsibility very seriously so I would get in that building one way or another. I started to walk around looking for anything that could reach the window. The only thing that looked promising was a square wooden block covering a hole on the lower area of the building. Attached to the block on all four sides was about three inches of wood. I thought that if I leaned the block up against the wall by the window, I might be able to climb on the wood ledge. I dragged the heavy block up the hill to the window and very carefully climbed on the ledge of the wood. I hoped it would be strong enough to stand on without collapsing. I also hoped that the window wasn’t locked. What I found was another challenge. The next challenge was a three rectangular paned window that had to be manually cranked open from the inside. OK, I thought now what do I do? Walking out of there was not an option. I needed a plan B. I remembered that I had a pocket knife in my purse; the engineer in me. I climbed down, retrieved the knife and climbed back up on the wood. There was a rubber seal around the window and I used the pocket knife to pry the rubber loose. Then I removed the glass from the window cranking the window open as far as it would go. So far so good; however the only way to get into the window was to hold onto the bottom of the window frame and climb up the side of the brick wall feet first. Then I had to slide in on my back through the small opening under the window frame. Once I was inside of the building, sign on was only 10 minutes late! I replaced the rubber seal around the window and restored the window to its original condition. My boss said he would have sold tickets to watch me get into the transmitter. He laughed and laughed and laughed! To this day, people still want to know the real story of how I got into the building. I am very thankful that I didn’t let people down. They were depending on me. The moral of the story, NEVER SAY NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP, AND NEVER FORGET YOUR KEYS!