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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
L.A. Riots: 20 Years Later

L.A. Riots: Reporter Relives Experience

KNX 1070 radio reporter Pete Demetriou remembers the day the Rodney King verdict was announced and when the riots began.

News reporter Pete Demetriou said he predicted the L.A. Riots would happen. 

"If three walk away and only one is found guilty, you're going to have a riot," he said he told his colleagues 20 years ago when they discussed the Simi Valley trial.

"I had reporters look at me and say, 'Are you kidding, nobody riots,' and I said, 'You're going to have a riot.'"

When Demetriou drove to Florence and Normandie in South L.A., he saw cars being forced open by people who used bottles and other objects to smash windows.

"I was the wrong color in the wrong place at the wrong time," Demetriou said.

As a news reporter, Demetriou described how difficult it was to remain detached from the story. He was angry that Los Angeles was being destroyed but realized he was not the only victim.

"These were not the people who were criminals, they were not the people who were setting fires and burning things. These were the incidental people who lived in these neighborhoods who were being directly impacted by this. They were the ones being hurt."


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