This tape appears to be raw or crudely edited footage (perhaps a very rough cut) from a documentary about the 1992 riots in Los Angeles sparked by the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King. The first 15 minutes are taken up by an interview with Bongo, an African-American artist and business owner in South Central Los Angeles. Bongo's comments, which are often very passionate and animated, center on the racist mistreatment of African-Americans, particularly African-Americans i n Los Angeles. The remainder of the tape is raw footage shot in Los Angeles following the riots. Most of the shots are of National Guardsmen patrolling the streets on foot and in armored vehicles. These images make Los Angeles look eerily similar to occupied Baghdad.
0:18Copy video clip URL Bongo: “What happened was a lawless civil unrest, an uprising… It ain’t about Rodney King, Rodney King was just the last straw. What it’s really about [is] an all-white supreme court, an all white congress… the police occupying force [is] 70% non-black in the black community, the fire-department in the black community [is] 70% non-black, the paramedics, 911, 70% non-black… We don’t want just the garbage men being black in our community.” He also talks about the bailouts after the SNL loan scandal, and that we as a society are willing to help corporations out with taxpayer money but not welfare for poor black mothers trying to feed their kids. He also talks about the billions wasted on the military industrial complex fighting “quoth unquoth communism.”
2:37Copy video clip URL “[I am] proud of the fact that I’m of African descent, but I’m also proud of the fact that I was born here in America, better known as Babylon.” He comments on negative reactions from people regarding the fact that some of the looters had their children with them: “I can explain that to my kids—why poor people steal—but I can’t explain racism to my kids!” He also claims that a lot of the fires were set by “professionals.”
3:58Copy video clip URL “I’m a black businessman in South Central. I’ve been a business entity for eight years. My interest of my business loans is 17 fucking percent… the Koreans come in here and they get 4 percent.”
4:23Copy video clip URL “I don’t look at the crackheads… as foreigners, I don’t look at the street people as foreigners. Those are my brothers and sisters, my mother, my uncle, my children.”
4:44Copy video clip URL “Every black church in the black community should have a super market, a laundromat, and some sort of industry where they provide jobs right next door to the churches.” He also says the lack of respect for radical black people sends the message to black children that you’re only worthwhile if you fall in line and play by the rules of the game.
5:43Copy video clip URL “The system has got to be changed. The white male power dominated structure has got to come down.” He also calls out to the black people in Hollywood who have ignored the poor black communities in South Central LA. “LA should be the most progressive black community in the world. We’ve got more black millionaires living here, from Wilt Chamberlain all the way down to Michael Jackson, but you know what? Even Bill Cosby will tell you he’s from Philadelphia; that motherfucker ain’t been in Philadelphia in 45 years in the goddamn ghetto, and he sure don’t come to South Central. So what community is he really from?”
7:21Copy video clip URL “Y’all better burn this fucker down, because it’s got to be rebuilt with morals that include every race and color of people on the planet.” He also says the black community need to address sexism as well, because progress can’t happen otherwise. “Sexism and racism come right together.”
7:58Copy video clip URL He tells a story of the government cutting off the power and brought in the local military and left them to be victims of the mob. He says they could’ve stopped the riots right at the beginning but as long as it didn’t spread to the wealthy neighborhoods, they didn’t care if the poor neighborhoods burned. “Don’t forget the homeless people. Where were they during the riot?”
9:21Copy video clip URL “I want to own the schools in my community… I want 70% of the teachers in my community to be black, I want 70% of the paramedics, the professionals, the doctors, the people who empathize, who care… to be black in my community.”
9:55Copy video clip URL Bongo talks about why you see so many black army troops occupying these communities: it’s poverty. He says that people are poor and disenfranchised, and they join the army because they need to get paid so they can feed their families. “Poverty will make you do all kinds of things… It’s not because they believe in the dream, it’s because it’s a job.” He says that he understands why they join, but morally he has his boundaries, citing the fact that he didn’t get his gun to protect himself from the rioters, because he wasn’t afraid of them. He only got his gun to protect himself when the National Guard came in, because he was afraid of them.
11:08Copy video clip URL He talks about growing up in South Central LA, and how at least 30 times he’s had a white man put a gun in his face. He also talks about integration and cohabitation. “We don’t have to compromise our cultural values to cohabitate.”
12:30Copy video clip URL He says this isn’t a race thing, it’s a class thing. He talks about the importance of being able to produce things like food and drinking water for oneself.
13:48Copy video clip URL Bongo begins talking about how even though he’s being emotional, it’s good to have an outlet. A compressor starts up, ruining the audio. Bongo says, “It’s a compressor, we’re working. Rent is due tomorrow, you understand.”
14:15Copy video clip URL Bongo talks about teaching black children not to be “middle men,” and stresses the importance of manufacturing. He believes black people need to manufacture their own goods.
15:30Copy video clip URL Footage on the streets of South Central LA, including: Shots of police with rifles and army jeeps; businesses with “Black Owned” spray-painted on the windows, presumably to discourage looters and rioters; a man selling clothing on the street; a man being arrested; etc. The cameraman also follows some soldiers with rifles and tries to talk to them, but is eventually told that they aren’t allowed to answer questions and that he needs to move back across the street. He also records a woman with “Justice for Rodney King” signs who yells “We want justice!” from her second story window, as well as shots of anti-police graffiti.