Los Angeles

LA Riots Revisited: 25 Years Later, A Lesson in Apology and Forgiveness

When Precious Hayes brought her grandchildren to the LA riots Peace Parade in Koreatown on Saturday, she wanted to tell 9-year-olds London and Paris about the time 25 years ago when racial tensions reached a tipping point. She had no idea she'd get to teach them a lesson about the value of an apology and forgiveness.

On April 29, 1992, Hayes -- then 20 years old -- was part of a group of people that looted nearby shops. It's a detail she initially neglected to mention to her grandchildren.

"I was hand in hand, slipping, falling, taking food, taking liquor," Hayes said.

One of the stores she broke into was Tom’s Liquor on Florence Avenue and Normandie Avenue.

While speaking with Hayes, NBC4 learned that Simon Choi, owner of Tom’s Liquor was also at the parade, standing just a few hundred feet away.

A quarter of a century later Hayes and Choi came face to face -- this time under much different circumstances.

"During the riots I was a partaker in the madness," Hayes told Choi.  "I am so honored to have the opportunity to apologize. I am so remorseful for my actions."

The apology was well received by Choi, who has since rebuilt his store. He said he still remembers when Tom's was broken into but was surprised Hayes remembered him after so long. 

"I never expected this," said Choi. "I am very happy today to be friends."

Hayes said she’s thankful for the unexpected turn of events at the parade and hopes the experience demonstrates an important lesson.

"The message is not to participate, not do things in the heat of the moment [because] later you'll be sorry," Hayes said.

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