Downtown Los Angeles Skyline

John Ridley: Police Brutality and the Rodney King Uprising

John Ridley: The film let it fall, "Let it Fall Los Angeles 1982-1992" and we do refer to it as an uprising in the film and I want to make it clear that to me it’s not about getting into a battle of semantics you know whether it's a riot, whether it's an uprising. But what was very important for us and why we look at it as an uprising is because we really want for those of us who are living in Los Angeles and I think for a lot of people who were not living here and witnessed these events, you know they think of it as being about one thing that happened to one individual and one community in distress. I think a lot of people don't know the metrics, you know. It wasn't that Rodney King was beaten and then there was this uprising, or riot, or however people want to phrase it you know, and Rodney King was not even personally involved in it, and yet we call it the Rodney King riots. So for us, it was very important in this film, in this documentary to look at events over a ten year period and there sure was an argument. You can go back 15, 25 more years, but over a ten year period from the end of what could be considered the chokehold era in Los Angeles which was an application, a method that the police used to subdue suspects, the choke hold that was leading to the death of many of these suspects, the majority of them, people of color so the end of that era when that application was banned to the introduction of the PR-24, the metal baton which was used many years later, almost 10 years later in arresting Rodney King then in the events leading from that arrest which was caught on video tape which for a lot of the audience they have no understanding of how rare it was back in the day...
Val Zavala: That was rare, a revelation for many of us. 

John Ridley: It was for so many people to have an incident that people were talking about these kinds of arrests, these kinds of things, but there was no evidence, there was no physical evidence. So, when this tape hit we know how impactful it is now for people to capture these things on their phone with regularity, and it still has such an emotional impact. Imagine 25 years ago when these kinds of arrests were still almost legendary and for someone to capture on videotape. And not just a rough arrest but almost 56 blows in about 80 seconds with these metal batons. There’s so many people who feel like that was what led to the uprising, but there were many events over time from different communities, not just the Black community, Hispanic community, Asian-American community, Japanese-American, Korean-American. We wanted to show in this film how these different communities were connected, how they affected each other and the fact that they were many number of individuals tried over time to right the course of Los Angeles, but people wouldn’t listen. There were a many number of individuals who as the title implies just let it fall and that's how we arrive to a place where we see people who feel as though they don't have any other means to express themselves spilling out on the streets trying to get the respect that they feel that they deserve.

John Ridley, Oscar Winning Filmmaker, talks about his film “Let it Fall Los Angeles 1982-1992" and discusses police brutality, the Rodney King riots and what they meant for the different minority groups living in Los Angeles. 

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