A New Documentary Shows Why The LA Riots Still Matter, 25 Years Later (Video)

In the context of America’s grapple with police brutality in 2017, 1992 may seem like a distant era. Before cell-phone cameras were ubiquitous, video footage of violent encounters between police and citizens was mostly relegated to dashboard footage from a police car or a passerby armed with professional recording equipment. The former was the case in the horrific case of Rodney King, beaten senseless by police in Los Angeles in 1991. Rodney’s attackers were charged with and tried for assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force, and acquitted in ’92, at which point an uprising engulfed L.A.

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Now referred to as the L.A. Riots, the series of events will be the subject of several upcoming projects, including a two-hour documentary co-produced by John Singleton for A&E, airing tonight (April 18). Spike Lee is involved with yet another project, and John Ridley is directing another 25th anniversary retrospective, this one for ABC and slated for release this month. As reported by Shadow & Act, other features on the uprisings include one starring Halle Berry, a Smithsonian Channel examination of the Rodney King verdict, as well as a National Geographic documentary with rarely seen archival footage. But perhaps most striking of all the forthcoming releases is a Showtime documentary titled Burn Motherf*cker, Burn!, for which the trailer can be seen below.

According to Shadow & Act, where the trailer premiered, the film is “an in-depth and provocative look at the watershed moment that influenced the political, social and cultural fabric of the city of Los Angeles and the country.” Directed by Fresh Dressed‘s Sacha Jenkins, the documentary “begins by exploring the complicated relationship between the Los Angeles Police Department and the city’s Black and minority communities.” Further plot details are included, including that it “traces a throughline from the 1962 ransacking of a Los Angeles Nation of Islam mosque (which left many injured and one man dead) to the 1965 Watts riots, the rise of L.A. street gangs in the 1970s and ’80s, and the Rodney King beating in 1991.”

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The 90-minute documentary will premiere on Showtime on Friday, April 21 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.