Rising Up: Differences between 1992 LA riots and May 2020 protests

Retired LASD Sgt. Brian Hill, FOX 11's Phil Shuman and Christina Gonzalez stopped by to discuss what made the May 2020 protests and unrests different from the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Gonzalez said one of the biggest observations she noticed from the 2020 protests were the white communities across the country joining the fight against systemic racism.

"You did not see that in 1992-1993. You would see some elements like churches and so forth," Gonzalez said. "The massive number of people who came from all over to march with Black Lives Matter… that was seen by politicians."

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With the Nov. 2020 election being scheduled just months after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Gonzalez said the protests prompted some of the politicians to take action.

Hill said social media played a huge role in sparking the 2020 protests.

"You’ll get 10 seconds of an event. You don’t get to see what happens before or after. You don’t see the whole event," said the longtime LASD Sergeant. "That’s when you get the looting."

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Hill said body cameras on deputies and police officers will play a major role in promoting transparency.

"Let's get everything out there," he said.

"We’re all being recorded," Gonzalez said, pointing to a smartphone. "Whatever actions are going to come out, they’re going to come out eventually. Even with the officers’ own [body] cameras."

Shuman said a lot has changed in terms of relationships between the communities of color and law enforcement. However, he said, some things have stayed the same.

"Could these riots and protests happen again, should there be another George Floyd incident? Absolutely," Shuman said.

When it comes to the "Defund the Police" argument, Hill said cutting funding for law enforcement will force officers and deputies to take shortcuts.

"They’re working longer hours. That’s just not good. That’s not good for the communities," Hill said.

Shuman says he has asked protesters on scene for alternate options for the police during times of major criminal events. The FOX 11 reporter says he has yet to receive a "straight answer."

"When there’s a legitimate crime – God forbid, a shooting – the poor boy that was shot on the freeway, you want to eliminate the police? Who exactly is it you’re going to call when that happens?" Shuman said. 

Shuman believes about "99.9%" of law enforcement officers genuinely want to help the community and hopes the public will give these officers and deputies the benefit of doubt moving forward.

"It’s an incredibly difficult job. They do it well and they deserve our respect and trust," Shuman said.

Gonzalez hopes law enforcement agencies push for more beat policing, getting law enforcement officers to patrol communities they're more familiar with.

"A lot of the problems surface up when you’ve got officers coming from a community that is 50 miles away from the community that they cover and it’s completely different," she explained.

Hill hopes for more beat policing as well. He hopes there will be more community outreach efforts by law enforcement agencies.

"We have to have youth athletic centers open again," Hill said. 

The longtime LASD Sergeant also hopes to see more African Americans join law enforcement.

"I would like to see more of our faces out in the streets of South LA, Watts, Willowbrook and Compton. That will have a little more of a calming effect," he explained.

Hill, who recently retired after serving Los Angeles County for over 30 years, tells younger deputies to remain vigilant.

"You know your core values, most agencies have them," Hill said. "Just keep in line with that."

You can catch all of Episode 1 of Rising Up by clicking here.


Rising Up is a five-part docuseries produced by FOX 11 that examines the death of George Floyd, the protests that occurred in response, and the important, sometimes uncomfortable, conversations surrounding race, policing, activism, and the future of America, that have taken place since.

The series features interviews with Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), LAPD Chief Michel Moore, FOX 11 anchors Elex Michaelson and Christine Devine, and some two dozen other journalists, activists, academics, and protesters.

Rising Up airs nightly at 6 PM PST from May 24 through May 28, and is also available anytime on Tubi, FOX Soul, NewsNow, FOXLA.com, and YouTube.

For more information and exclusive content, go to foxla.com/risingup.