Three Calm Voices of the LA Riots: Olmos "Just Started Sweeping" - NBC Southern California

Three Calm Voices of the LA Riots: Olmos "Just Started Sweeping"

The Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray took to the pulpit, Do Kim began building bridges, and Edward James Olmos picked up a broom

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Three Lives Changed by the LA Riots

    Twenty years ago, as Los Angeles burned, three people from separate communities sprang to action. One took to the pulpit, one began building bridges, and Edward James Olmos picked up a broom. Lucy Noland reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 25, 2012. (Published Wednesday, April 25, 2012)

    Rodney King's beating left the Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray stunned, and the verdict in the ensuing trial left him gutted. There were 53 deaths, thousands of injuries, and millions of broken hearts.

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    "We were hoping the verdict would come back to those who perpetrated the evil: GUILTY! And, when the opposite came, nothing," said Murray, with First AME Church.

    As the leader of the First AME Church pulled himself back together, those in the streets surrounding the sanctuary fell apart.

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    Titus Murphy says something inside him told him to get up as he was watching the violence of the LA Riots unfold on television. After a brick was thrown at truck driver Reginald Denny’s head, Murphy ran to the scene and, with the help of three other strangers, managed to take the badly-injured Denny to the hospital – in part due to Murphy’s pretending he was a rioter to scare off potential attackers. Chuck Henry reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 23, 2012.
    (Published Wednesday, April 25, 2012)

    "Exploded, within the matter of less than an hour," said actor Edward James Olmos. "No police department officials, no government officials, no leaders of the community were saying anything."

    So, Olmos said something: taking to the airwaves to ask Angelenos to stay home.
    More than 2,000 miles from the chaos, another Angeleno watched from his dorm room.

    "At Harvard, I was able to get Black and Korean students to table at 13 of our dorms,” said Do Kim, who was a student in April 1992. "We were able to raise about $5,000 to help both the Korean and African American communities."

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    [LA] 20 Years After L.A. Riots, Henry Watson Speaks Out
    Henry Watson stomped on Reginald Denny's head at the intersection of Florence and Normandie in an attack that came to define the L.A. Riots in 1992. Twenty years later, he spoke about that fateful day. Toni Guinyard reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on April 23, 2012.
    (Published Tuesday, April 24, 2012)

    Kim grew up amid Koreatown's violence.

    "I left Koreatown because of the violence,"Kim said. "But it was the violence of the LA civil unrest that made me want to come back to Koreatown to be a community bridge builder."

    Back on the west coast, on the day Marshall Law was to take over, on the day Rodney King would ask “if we could all get along,” Olmos picked up a broom.

    "I went to sweep the parking lot," Olmos said. "I started walking right down here, down Adams and towards Western, sweeping. I just started sweeping, and I'm not quite sure what I was thinking."

    A news crew captured the moment on tape and broadcast it. By mid-morning people were swapping guns for brooms.

    "Anybody that was fighting before, just grabbed a broom and walked down the street and all of a sudden they were part of the healing process," Olmos said.

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