Marc Brown recalls covering LA riots, trying to make sense of events

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Some 25 years after the Los Angeles riots, there are only a handful of reporters still at ABC7 who were covering it. One of them is anchor Marc Brown. Here are his memories of what took place.

On the afternoon of April 29, a group of people had gathered to watch the verdicts on a bank of televisions at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Mall. I was there to get their reaction.

"The judge, the jury, and all them people in there, they wrong," one woman said.

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After that, I was sent to First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles, where there was a community meeting set for 7 p.m. There were many civil rights leaders and community leaders, all expressing outrage at the verdict.

The room was hot. People were angry. But it seemed to me the people expressing outrage on the church stage were unaware of what was going on outside.

I could see the violence on my portable TV monitor. At one point, I held it up to show L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was an L.A. City Council member back then. He was about to speak.

"I remember saying, 'What is he saying?' You were quite demonstrative in trying to get everybody's attention, as if to say, 'You all are in here talking, but outside, this city is on fire,'" Ridley-Thomas recalled.

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Then and now: Los Angeles 25 years after the 1992 riots that left over 50 people dead and caused more than $1 billion in damage.

The meeting broke up. From there, we headed south and west to Western Avenue between 18th and Venice. This is an emotional spot for me, and I'll tell you why.
Now, there's a lingerie store next to a Radio Shack. Back then, it was a pet store. When I got here, both stores were going up in flames. The idea of all those animals dying in the fire affected me that night and it still does. And across the street, someone died in a department store.

The J.J. Newberry store burned to the ground. Four months later, a cleanup crew found the body of 20-year-old Nissar Daoud Mustafa in the rubble

Reporters, cameramen, bystanders - we were all shocked by what we were seeing.

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"This is greed, anger, and I don't like it. I mean look at the skies. Look at the skies. L.A. skies. We look like Kuwait over here," one man said.

No matter where we went, we smelled smoke. We heard gunshots, sirens, breaking glass and we were scared.

The city I called home, where I grew up, was burning. And there was nothing I could do but report on what I was seeing and try to make sense of it.

MORE: See all of ABC7's coverage marking 25 years since the LA riots
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