South LA remembers riots 25 years later with vigil

- One by one, South Los Angeles community activists laid down candles Monday for the lives forever changed by the L.A. riots 25 years ago -- when racial tensions fueled angry rioters, who took to the streets and lit up the city.

They gathered where many consider ground zero of the riots at Florence and Normandy.

RELATED: FOX 11 News In Depth: The LA Riots 25 Years Later

Residents hit the streets in angry protest there the day that four white police officers were exonerated of beating Rodney King. That's when activists say police fled the area, right around the same time a white truck driver was pulled from his truck and beaten.

"I thought they were going back to the police station to regroup in riot gear and put down the unrest. But they never came back. Their absence in my opinion made this whole thing explode. What happened here at Florence and Normandy spread through this entire city," said Timothy Goldman, who shot video at the intersection that day.

Denise Harlins remembers how racial tensions took her niece, Latasha Harlins' life. She says the intersection represents how time changes so little.

"We still have to rebuild. We still have to do the work that is needed. Not a lot has changed," said Harlins.

Others said they came to reflect on how the intersection has evolved, and how a community coming together can heal deep wounds.

"Twenty-five years ago this place represented chaos to me. But today, 25 years later, it represents unity," said Pastor Harrington McFrazier.

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