Twenty-three years after riots broke out in South Los Angeles over the acquittal of four officers in the beating of Rodney King, the LAPD is on high alert.
Despite the timing, enhanced safety measures aren’t in place as a result of the events of April 29, 1992. They’re the result of an eerily similar controversy unfolding across the country this week in Baltimore, where peaceful demonstrations over the death of Freddie Gray, a black 25 year old who died of a spinal cord injury while in the custody of Baltimore police, gave way to violence over the weekend.
According to the Los Angeles Times, 235 people have been arrested and at least 20 police officers have been injured in the chaos so far. Buildings and cars have been set on fire and businesses have been looted, prompting officials to declare a state of emergency. Schools are closed today, and curfews for both adults and children will be imposed tonight.
The rioting—along with what has been described as a “credible threat” —prompted Baltimore police to raise a Blue Alert, warning officers that members of the Bloods, Crips, and Black Guerilla family gangs may be following a directive to kill police across the country.
“LAPD has always taken the approach of being on the offensive not the defensive,” said detective Joe Rios, explaining the department’s decision to order all LAPD officers to ride in pairs and not alone. “There have been no direct threats. It’s just precautionary.”
Rios said the LAPD will remain on Blue Alert through Friday at least, and potentially through the weekend or until the situation in Maryland cools down. “For the last several years, nothing has happened on the anniversary of the [L.A.] riots,” he said, before adding that no other precautionary plans are currently in place. “If you hadn’t mentioned [the connection], that probably would have gone right over our heads.”