After all the negative things people have had to say about the riots and people caught up in it, were you made out to look like someone who went out to cause trouble?
I'm an ex-Marine. I come from a two parent family. I'm not your typical gang member. The media likes to paint it like everyone there was a criminal when that's not true.
What was your reaction the second you heard the verdict of the Rodney King trial?
I was upset just like everyone else. It was rage and anger. It wasn't just about Rodney King, but about the injustices that had been going on during that time. You had the Latasha Harlins shooting, and there was also a Muslim named Oliver X. Beasley, who had been shot by the (L.A. County) Sheriff's Department. It was also an election year and Daryl Gates was at the head of the L.A.P.D. at the time. Those times in 1992 were very volatile in more ways than one.
Were you more angry at the officers or at the justice system?
I was just shocked in seeing the verdict of the officers being found not guilty. It was disbelief. I mean, how could they find the officers not guilty? He wasn't resisting arrest, he was the victim.
But what about Reginald Denny? Wasn't he a victim, too?
Reginald Denny was a victim of circumstance. Nobody specifically sought out Reginald Denny to cause him any harm. He just got caught up in the moment, just like everyone else. I had mixed emotions about it of course, but when you look at history, when you look at the millions of lives lost in the United States because of slavery and greed and things, I'm quite sure Native Americans, Asians, African Americans have all felt victimized, too.
Was there ever a time, without the cameras and the press that you ever tried to sit down with Denny and speak with him man to man about what happened and make peace?
I did meet him in person on the Phil Donahue show after the trial was all over. But actually, I tried to reach out to him at the 10 year anniversary. I offered to send one of my cars to him in Arizona to meet with him mano a mano but it didn't happen. He forgave me and it's all good, but I'm not going to stay on my knees.
What about the damage wrought in L.A.? You're still there. What do you see?
After all the cameras had turned off, you still had the same situation. The slogan for the time was "Rebuild L.A.," but what it really stood for was "Rebuild L.A.P.D." Nothing has changed still, it's the same homelessness, the same joblessnes, the same despair It's just managed cosmetics.
And what about you, man? How much of all of this is staying with you?
I'm not dwelling on my past. Unfortunately, when things are said and done, people don't necessarily let you let go of the past. Some old wounds never heal.
So when you do talk about the riot, who do you talk to?
I talk to young brothers, because it's very important. Right now, we don't have leadership. The black status is bad, and a lot of people don't have direction. It's important that us older cats guide them and let them know that you don't have to settle for dope slinging. Go get an education. Others come here from foreign countries and they get educated.
So you're really concerned about the kids around you?
Here in the states it's harder for the black youth. They don't see where any of their struggles are going to benefit them. As a black man you're still going to be subjected to persecution, even by your own people. It's been a pattern of abuse and self-hatred, where we don't even want to see each other succeed. So when I talk to the kids, I say it's easy to get in trouble, but it's hard to get out of trouble.