The sun rose over Los Angeles under even more haze than usual Thursday morning, the result of hundreds of fires set throughout the night.
In the wake of Wednesday's acquittal of four LAPD officers in the Rodney King trial, the city became angry and dangerous. The smell of smoke was strong, even in Marina Del Rey - about 15 miles from most of the burning buildings.Deseret New photographer Gary McKellar and I talked about the verdict Wednesday afternoon as we drove toward Dodger Stadium to watch the Phillies and Dodgers. But at that point there were no general signs of trouble.
During the baseball game, police helicopters flew by the stadium, but there were no apparent problems at the game.
Driving back to Marina Del Rey after the game, we heard radio announcers warning motorists to avoid the south-central Los Angeles area. Reports indicated drivers had been pulled from their cars and beaten, buildings burned and stores looted.
As we passed the central city area on the Santa Monica Freeway, we saw the fires. Cars slowed slightly but drove on. Reports advised motorists to avoid the downtown area due to the violence. Police helicopters with searchlights circled the area. One fire roared high from a building near the freeway, with sparks spewing into the night sky.
We counted about a dozenfires we could see on the way back to the hotel.
Even in trendy beachside towns, the verdict affected people. Two women in Venice reported that their home had been broken into and looted, and said it was related to the unrest.
Televised reports showed raging fires in the area of Vermont and Rodeo Road, where a Thrifty drug store and a Foot Locker shoe apparel store were torched.
A drive-by shooting was reported on 39th and Vermont, only a few blocks from the L.A. Sports Arena, where the Jazz-Clippers playoff game was scheduled for Thursday night.
Television reports went late into the night. A black youth was shot in the thigh by drive-by shooters, while a white driver said he was shot at several times while driving his car. He was unharmed, but his windows were blown out and bullet holes marked his car.
A cement truck driver was reportedly pulled from his truck and beaten, then left lying in the street while rioters protested.
Rioting also cast a pall over the victory celebrations at the Forum, where the Lakers beat the Blazers in a first-round NBA Playoff game Wednesday. Drivers left the arena after the game, only to see fire trucks and police cars jamming the area.
Both the Forum and the L.A. Sports Arena are in areas near the fires.