April 29th 1992 – 25 Years Later – Long Beach Riots & Sublime’s Account of the Events Memorialized In Song

April 29th 1992 – 25 Years Later – Long Beach Riots & Sublime’s Account of the Events Memorialized In Song
April 29, 2017 | By More

Crazy to think that today, April 29th 2017 marks the 25th Anniversary of the L.A. Riots following the verdicts in the Rodney King beating case. Twenty-five years, wow! I still remember where I was that day which is ironic in its own right and how they affected me. Long Beach’s place in the days are too often forgotten but are forever memorilized in Sublime’s song ‘April 29th 1992’ and in the heart of someone who spent part of his childhood “growing up” there.

I had spent part of my childhood growing up in Long Beach, CA. which is where the infamous riots actually started PRIOR to the verdict ever being read. Long Beach’s place in the history of the riots is often forgotten. However, Sublime memorialized that days events in a song on their self-titled album released in 1996.

Sublime CD – Released July 1996

Wednesday, April 29th 1992 was a very important day for me. I was less than a month away from graduating the 8th grade and moving on to High School. Counselors were often “preaching” to us about starting to consider a career after High School. Oddly, despite my distain for the majority of Law Enforcement Officials I’d encountered in my 14 years, I was actually thinking about looking into some field in the profession. I was especially interested in detective work, forensics and being a coroner which meant I’d have to get a mortuary science degree at minimum.

A handful of classmates at Allison Middle School and myself had submitted essays for a chance to attend “Law Day” at Wichita State University in Wichita, KS. The day would be spent on the college campus attending various seminars that fit your interest. I also thought it’d be a great way to make some contacts for my Dad who was about to attend the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center to become a Police Officer after retiring from the USAF the year prior.

My late Mother volunteered to be one of a handful of parents to take a vehicle load of students to Law Day. We all piled into my parents Chevy pick-up that had a camper that was open to the cab of the truck. It was pimped out, complete with carpeted floors and ceilings, two bucket seats & an elevated twin sized bed in the camper.

Law Day was an awesome experience as they had experts from all over the state and country with expertise in the fields they were conducting seminars on. It was the first time I’d seen a cadaver post autopsy as well as video of the autopsy. I was morbidly intrigued. This was also my first time meeting Det. Ken Landwehr of the Wichita P.D. His nephew was one of my classmates at Allison Middle School but did not attend Law Day.

I’d really get to know Det. Landwehr in 2004 when the serial killer BTK resurfaced in Wichita after a 14 year period of inactivity. I was an administrator and contributor on CatchBTK.com and Det. Landwehr was the head of the BTK Task Force. For decades, and especially in 2004 and 2005, Landwehr had been consumed with catching BTK, who killed 10 people but eluded capture for 31 years.

I gained a lot of knowledge that day but by my Sophomore year, my career interests had changed drastically. The evening of April 29, 1992 brought news of the verdicts in the trial of the cops caught on film beating him. I was a news junkie and had been since I was 4 years old. With the announcement that riots were breaking out in Long Beach, I was glued to the TV. While I’d lost contact with most of my friends there, I worried about all their well being.

Sublime – April 29th 1992 –
Record Store Day 7″

I was allowed to stay up late with my Dad and watch history unfold on live TV. At approximately 11pm, a major fire broke out at the Department of Motor Vehicles building at Pacific Avenue and Willow Street in Long Beach. That’s when what was happening really struck me. That was just three blocks East of where I lived in the Wrigley District of Long Beach. When I saw the footage marked Long Beach, my first was the huge building just across the street from where I lived.

When I lived there, it was vacant and was filled with homeless squatters, drug addicts and other derelicts of society. My friends and I would often “break in” to the building. It was not uncommon to see drug paraphernalia all over the concrete floors, excrement, people having sex, an occasional dead body and “campfires” used for keeping warm or cooking. As a matter of fact, it was a homeless person cooking in the clubhouse in a heavily wooded area that was built by my friends and I with discarded furniture at my apartment complex that was reduced it to a pile of ash when I still lived there.

I was moved to tears with the thoughts that my friends were in harms way or could possibly be participating in the chaos. I did not run with a church choir as a kid in Long Beach. We were little thugs even at 12 years old when I moved away. Gangs were just a fact of live.

TOP: View of East Pacific Coast Highway looking west near Lemon Ave. in Long Beach, Calif. during the Rodney King Riots in the last week of April 1992. *Photo by Cristina Salvador / Long Beach Press-Telegram*

BOTTOM: View of Pacific Coast Highway looking west near Lemon Ave. in Long Beach, Calif. on April 28, 2010

Fast forward to 2008 when I reconnected with my Long Beach Posse, with the exception of the females, we’d all been hellions in our teenage years into our adulthood. Thankfully, everyone had turned their lives around and survived except Nathan who was murdered in 1994 in front of several of my dearest friends. It wasn’t until 2009 when I returned to Long Beach for a reunion with my friends and asked where Nathan was that I learned the tragic and senseless news. R.I.P. Nathan, I think of you often ‘Joker’!

Long Beach Posse Reunion –
March 2009

In 1996, soon after graduating High School, I was glued to the MTV one day when news broke of Bradley Nowell of Sublime’s death. They ran a short bio piece on him and the band. Once again, my jaw hit the floor. I’d seen Sublime play at a house party and at Veterans Park just a few blocks from where I lived. Their self-titled album was released two months after Nowell’s passing and included the song ‘April 29 1992 (Miami)’ detailing the Long Beach riots through its lyrics and the use of actual Long Beach Police Department radio transmissions from that historic day.

Veterans Park is also where I was stabbed in the hand just a few days after my 11th birthday by a gangbanger as his friend watched. They did it to steal my mountain bike leaving his behind. Come to find out the one the guy left behind was worth a couple hundred dollars than my bike. They were soon arrested and I later learned in court that the bike he left behind was stolen during another armed robbery but the victim never reclaimed it so I got to keep it.

To have experienced such a historic and horrific event like the riots on TV all-the-while worrying about loved ones remains engraved in my brain 25 years later. Sublime captured that day in Long Beach’s history and while the city is often forgotten in the press’ coverage of that horrific day & it’s aftermath, those who lived through it will never forget it!

Map image of where the DMV that was burned down in proximity to where I had lived

‘April 29, 1992 (Miami)’ by Sublime

Fantastic article by Sarah Bennett that goes behind the details contained within Sublime’s ‘April 29, 1992 (Miami)’

Special thanks to Long Beach Press-Telegram, the City of Long Beach, CA, OC Weekly for materials used in researching his Op/Ed piece.

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Category: Opinions/Editorials

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