Lessons of Los Angeles

Chief Daryl Gates claimed that his officers could cope with the rage after the King verdict, but the police abandoned the city to a mob

Sufficient manpower is a prerequisite for controlling potentially dangerous crowds; the speed with which it arrives may well determine whether the situation can be controlled. -- Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, 1968

FOUR HOURS -- 240 UGLY, frightening Hobbesian minutes -- was all it took for South Central Los Angeles to lapse into a violent state of anarchy. Four hours -- half a normal patrol shift -- was all the time needed for the Los Angeles Police Department to cede temporary control of the streets to looters and arsonists. Even as the faint traces of smoke still...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!