Let it Burn

A Review of Let it Fall: L.A. 1982-1992

Let it Fall: L.A. 1982-1992 (2017), a documentary film written and directed by John Ridley and released on Netflix, has participants in the ’92 L.A. riot give a history of police brutality and racist attitudes towards Black people by the South Central store owners and cops, along with recounting events of the riot, and, of course, the police give their version. I found it dubious that the official position of the police blamed the massive destruction, arson, and deaths of 48 people on the decision of the precinct/district lieutenant to retreat in order to save their own lives. Chief Gates was at a Hollywood fundraiser and apparently stayed there after the riots were in full fury. The lieutenant claims Gates should have been there but he could have countered the order to retreat over the telephone. I think the reason Gates didn’t leave the party is because the order was given to let it burn from much higher levels, probably federal. The lieutenant, featured prominently, tries to play his role as outraged fall-guy, blaming Gates. Since when have cops ever been afraid of unarmed citizens?

Cops everywhere are a para-military group that follow the standard chain of command. The decision to stop protecting the property and the innocent victims was made well-knowing there would be widespread fire destruction that would lead to blight and despair for years to come in the Black community. They knew that the businesses would not return and that the buildings would not even be demolished for the most part, leaving a war-like scene for the children and the innocent to grow up and live in. This was a calculated decision, made at the very top levels of government, including, of course, federal (CIA etc.) Someone at the top gave the big OK to let South Central burn to the ground and let them kill as many of each other as possible. This was a racist Nazi-type eugenics-based decision. It was a normal decision in the perverse context of urban police brutality against Black African people in America for over a hundred years, and in the larger context of the direct, constant act of violence that was the American-Anglo Slavery System and its many social repercussions that no laws can completely eradicate. Laws and policies can contain racism but only a personal revelation can change a person’s heart; to stop hating people based on their skin color, religion, gender, homosexuality or ethnicity.

The attempted murder of Rodney King was the provocation by the cops that led to the destruction by fire of South Central L.A. It’s amazing it didn’t happen earlier. It has been proven that the CIA was actively supporting the flow of cocaine there, through Central American racist-fascist paramilitaries, in order to fund the many terrorist wars of atrocity against the poor of that region. The cocaine sales were controlled and managed by police corruption, informer networks, and constant set-ups and betrayals that contributed to making the gang scene one of never-ending, vicious turf wars. Remember that the distribution of the coke, through a very small number of major Black dealers, like Ricky “Freeway” Ross, was being controlled by the CIA and probably the cops, on a need-to-know level. The cops had, of course, a long history of personal corruption and involvement in the drug trade, like they do in cities all over the world.

Drugs were responsible for most of the decline and despair in Black communities nationwide, but at the time, were extremely bad in South Central L.A. and had the added evil of easily available semi-automatic and automatic weapons. You just have to wonder when weapons start flooding the streets along with major quantities of coke. Add the new, smokable crack into the mix and you have an entirely new situation the world had yet to deal with: poor, cracked out, money-crazed teenagers with AK-47’s and automatic shotguns. It served as a sort of model program for the Crack Epidemic that would replicate itself like a cancer throughout the nation in every community and later throughout the world.

Levels of violence and chaos can be controlled by the distribution flow of the drug: cut off certain people and areas and the friction increases. Competition becomes fierce. People become addicts. Some people get rich. Obvious signs of despair and chaos and decrepitude and insanity manifest themselves in the community. Children are victimized. Poverty takes control. All, according to decisions made on very high federal levels – according to plans? And George “The Wimp” Bush had the hypocrisy to say the King beating “sickened” him. He prefers the beatings to go unseen, of course.

A prison culture is established because the criminality is part of the drug deal. The great irony is that only the Black side of the drug game is criminalized. L.A. was allowed to remain a free fire zone for over a decade and the ’92 L.A. riot was a direct result of the racist war on Blacks deceptively called the War on Drugs, that came from the twisted, depraved mind of J.Edgar Hoover and was perpetuated and enhanced by his thousands of wicked acolytes.

The War on Drugs continues. Big strides forward have been made with Cannabis legalization but greater effort must be put into treatment methods for white powder addicts. There must also be controlled legalization of these drugs. Controls would be for purity. Only this will stop the fierce violence that goes with drug distribution.

Joseph Balletti, an art historian, is the author of a novel, The Goddess of Wealth, and a book of poetry, Seldom Seen Poems. He believes a better world is within reach. Read other articles by Joseph.