Los Angeles, CA — On April 29, 1992, the streets of Los Angeles, California would erupt into an all out war zone following the acquittal of four white cops who were filmed savagely beating Rodney King, a black man. While the anger over the cops’ acquittal was certainly warranted, the violence initiated against innocent residents and business owners because of it, was not. More than 1,000 people were injured in the course of five days while 50 were killed. Those numbers could’ve been much higher, however, if it wasn’t for good guys with guns — and we aren’t talking about police.
Angry at the verdict, on April 29, thousands took to the streets to protest and eventually riots broke out as a news helicopter filmed several men drag a truck driver from his truck and savagely beat him. This was the event that would kick off one of the darkest periods of rioting in American history.
The Rodney King video would become an icon for the police brutality movement and the riots would signify a turning point for law enforcement and the black community. But there was one group of folks who were entirely ignored by both the police and the media — the Korean-Americans.
“Despite the fact that Korean-American merchants were victimized, no one in the mainstream cared because of our lack of visibility and political power,” Edward Taehan Chang, professor of ethnic studies and founding director of the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at the University of California said. “Korean immigrants, many who arrived in the late 1970s and early 80s, learned economic success alone will not guarantee their place in America. What was an immigrant Korean identity began to shift. The Korean-American identity was born.”
Rioting in the area caused over $1 billion in damages, about half of which was sustained by Korean-American business owners. Although the National Guard and riot police moved in to quell the destruction, the Korean-American areas were largely left without police, forcing business owners and families to take defense into their own hands.
As the LA Times reported at the time, Korean shop owners and their supporters have lashed out at police, saying they have begged for protection from vandals, who left a swath of Koreatown in ashes. So many of them have decided to fight for themselves.
Richard Rhee, a survivor of the Korean War, the Watts riots, the LA riots, and three decades of business in Los Angeles was one of those folks who didn’t wait for the cops to show up and save him as he watched gangs of rioters and looters roving the streets setting fire to businesses after taking whatever they wanted.
“Burn this down after 33 years?” asked Rhee as he grabbed several shotguns and automatic weapons to defend his life’s work. “They don’t know how hard I’ve worked. This is my market and I’m going to protect it.”
Rhee and multiple other business owners in the area would become icons for the Second Amendment as they took to their rooftops and storefronts to defend their property from those who wished to destroy or steal it.
“It’s just like war,” Rhee said. “I’ll shoot and worry about the law later.”
Another business owner described at the time how police were ignoring them to protect only the rich businesses and allowing their destruction to happen. But once they decided to protect themselves, they were largely successful.
Jay Rhee, no relation to Richard Rhee, explained how he and other employees at a local mini-mall fought off hundreds of looters, firing over 500 rounds into the ground and in the air to stave off the attacks.
“We have lost our faith in the police,” he said. “Where were you when we needed you.”
“I truly thought I was a part of mainstream society,” said Chang Lee, another riot survivor who defended himself without police. “Nothing in my life indicated I was a secondary citizen until the LA riots. The LAPD powers that be decided to protect the ‘haves’ and the Korean community did not have any political voice or power. They left us to burn.”
What this case illustrates is that the 2nd Amendment wasn’t put into place so Ted Nugent could piss off liberals in a horrible reality TV series, or so the Duck Dynasty folks could shoot their dinner. It was put there because the ability of a people to defend themselves is the only thing standing in between freedom and domination. Had these Korean-Americans not had guns, rest assured they would have been wiped out.
Of course, a society without guns sounds fantastic and, in a perfect utopian world, it would be nice not to need a gun. However, as the LA riots proved 27 years ago, we do not live in utopia.
It’s not about “clinging to the second amendment” or being addicted to firepower. It’s about protecting you and your family and no one having the right to hinder that protection. And, as the case out of LA shows us, police will not only fail to protect you, but they will deliberately allow you to burn.
As John Locke stated, self-defense is the first law of nature. Each person owns his or her own life and no other person has a right to take that life. Those who would attempt to stop you from defending yourself are attacking the very right from which all other rights are derived — protection of one’s own life.
As TFTP reported in 2014, a similar situation took place in Ferguson, MO during the riots and protests following the killing of Michael Brown. In this situation, as police dealt with protesters, rioters began burning buildings with little resistance. That is, until a group of Ferguson residents who happened to have dark skin, armed with pistols and AR-15 rifles, descended upon a business which happened to be owned by a person with light skin.
These four men stood outside of this business, which was a Conoco gas station, to protect it from rioters and looters who burned other businesses to the ground over the past week in the St. Louis area.
The reason these four brave men protected this business had nothing to do with their skin color nor the skin color of the owner of the store.
These men were protecting the Conoco gas station owned by Doug Merello, because Merello has employed them over the years. They had mutual interests in the store’s survival as well as respect for one another.
“We would have been burned to the ground many times over if it weren’t for them,” Merello said.