(AllHipHop Editorial) Twenty-five years ago, Los Angeles exploded in rebellion after a jury exonerated the Los Angeles cops who were caught on video viciously beating Rodney King. This verdict was the system saying that it didn’t matter even though the world had watched their pigs brutalizing a Black man on TV. They let these pigs walk anyway. And that Black people deserved nothing and would get nothing but a pig’s boot on their necks, a prison cell to be caged in, or an early grave to be thrown into.
But the masses of people in LA said Hell, No, not this time. Black people rose in rebellion, and people of all nationalities joined in. As Bob Avakian (BA) said right after the rebellion, “This rebellion was the most beautiful, the most heroic, and the most powerful action by the masses of people in the U.S. for years and years. It sent shock waves throughout the U.S. and around the world, striking fear and panic into the oppressors and causing the hearts of oppressed people everywhere to beat faster with joy and hope.”
The U.S. rulers were puffed up off of having rained death and destruction on Iraq in their 1991 war against that country, feeling that they had delivered a message to the world that they were the top dog and couldn’t be challenged. But the LA Rebellion showed the world there were people on the bottom of this society who were in no mood to join the celebration of U.S. world domination. By rising up in rebellion, the masses in LA declared to the world that they refused to accept the brutality and indignity this system enforced on them. And people in cities across the U.S. heard this call and took to the streets in solidarity—rebellions erupted in cities like Las Vegas, Oakland, and Seattle, and there were protests against police brutality in many other cities.
In the midst of rising up in outrage against the outrageous verdict in the Rodney King case, Black youth forged a truce that ended decades of fighting and killing among the street gangs of LA. On the first night of the rebellion, graffiti went up on the walls that said: “Bloods, Crips and Mexicans together tonight.” During and after the rebellion there were many scenes of members of rival gang members, people who had been sworn enemies, hanging out together and embracing each other.
The system had enforced conditions in the inner cities that left these youth facing futures of no hope. It had flooded their neighborhoods with drugs and unleashed its pigs to bust them under the War on Drugs, which was really a war on the people. These young people were left with no way to have meaning in their lives except to form street gangs whose codes of revenge had them fighting and killing other oppressed youth who were just like them.
As BA says in BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, forging this truce was hard. The youth had to reach over years of killings, and the calls for revenge these killings generated, to embrace each other. And they had to try very hard to maintain the truce in the face of attacks by the pigs who would attack them when they gathered to hold picnics to celebrate the truce.
The youth worked heroically to keep the truce in effect, but ultimately they didn’t succeed. On top of the attacks by the system, they were confronted with the reality that this capitalist-imperialist system has no future for millions of youth penned up in the ghettos and barrios across the U.S.
On this 25th anniversary, we should remember the heroic efforts of the youth of LA, and we need to learn three lessons: 1) that people rising in rebellion against injustice was, and is, righteous, necessary, and beautiful. This makes it possible for oppressed people to raise their heads, to begin to see further than the grind of their day-to-day existence and to begin to get organized for revolution, while also opening up space to transform the thinking of all society; 2) that breaking the youth out of the street life and overcoming all the divisions among the masses, not just for a brief period of time after which they slide back into it, can only be done as part of building a movement FOR revolution. This is more urgent than ever, and it’s something our Party has set itself to right now, especially in Chicago in the face of Donald Trump’s threats to send in the feds to “fix” the violence here; and 3) that we need more than just rebellions—we need a revolution, and to make that revolution, people have to be struggled with to transform themselves as they are mobilized to join the struggle to fight the powers. And that there is leadership for this revolution in BA, a leader who has developed the strategy to make such a revolution and brought forward a vision of the world that revolution could bring into being. The most pressing thing facing this new generation of youth caught up in the gang scene, and their revolutionary vanguard, is to actually get them OUT of that, and get into the revolution.