Looted Store

May 1, 1992

At this looted grocery store west of downtown L.A., I found one of the few signs of a police presence.

The looting represented a leveling of economic class, as suddenly there were no barriers to commodity acquisition. In its May 1 edition, the San Fernando Valley's Daily News described the looting as a kind of celebration:

Within the perimeter of that riot zone, marauding gangs streamed in and out of stores almost unmolested throughout the day, often smiling and waving at television cameras that captured the scene.

At times the looting took on a near party atmosphere, with onlookers and looters exchanging high-five hand slaps and others taking photographs of the scene.

The police admitted they were unable to stop the lawlessness. The Daily News quoted Sgt. Dennis Zine of the Valley Traffic Division:

"We don't have any resources to arrest them (the looters and arsonists). All we can do is scatter them. We are just overwhelmed. We come in and they leave. We leave and they come back and torch the place."

"What we need is an army of occupation to restore order," he said.