Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982 –1992 Review – Poignant Interviews and News Footage Personalize Shocking Documentary

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Let It Fall, from John Ridley, ABC's Lincoln Square Production, and (ABC) the American Broadcasting Company, presents a chronological presentation of the events leading up to one of the most violent seasons in Los Angeles Police history, culminating with the Rodney King Beating and the injustice that followed.

Directed and written by John Ridley, Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982 – 1992 was produced by Ridley and Jeanmarie Condonother key crew included Cinematographer Samuel Painter, Sound Effects Editor, Rickey W. Dumm, Senior digital intermediate colorist, Randy Beveridge and Music Scoring mixer, Jason La Rocca.

Let It Fall brings together a group of private citizens who were directly touched by benchmark tragedies, violent events, across a ten-year span that eventually spilled over creating increasing violence met by unchecked police brutality.

The film opens with scenes of the worst day, the culmination of ten years of violence, the day when four white police officers were acquitted in the videotaped beating of Rodney King which sparked a powder keg of uncontrollable rage and violence.

Key subjects, witnesses were interviewed for their account, see the date as the one that is seared in the memory, along with other historical dates. The day Los Angeles burned will always be remembered by those who lived in the city whether they were directly touched by the violent rage stemming from the miscarriage of justice. It was as arresting whether ones home was in the hills, the beach, the valley or the interior.

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Of course, a boiling pot simmers for some time before the rolling boil, before wave after wave of violence strikes within the boundaries of the city, before the Code 3, sirens blaring, full response needed.

Which is where John Ridley takes us. We begin in 1982, which from the video tape shows a city that appears golden, an allure of orange trees in every yard, of life in the sunshine, of beautiful people and beautiful places.

Soon as the documentary shows us the two forces on a collision course, the LAPD who were always the number one police force in the world, well trained, smartly dressed, almost the mirror of the city they represent, and the influx of drugs, of crack cocaine and more importantly PCP which had its heyday in the early 1980’s.

PCP which is described as a drug that creates animal strength brought in tactics to subdue those individua’s under its influences. Choke holds, which are described and shown in the film became the weapon and tactics of choice employed by the LAPD in dealing with suspected PCP arrest.

Let it Fall doesn’t point to black or white, as diverse as the city of Los Angeles was, and is, the subjects interviewed, the victims of the violence, fell across all lines, Black, White, Asian, Hispanic and Korean.

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The documentary moves chronologically from 1982 and the influences and a benchmark violent episode, the simmering of racial relationships between the former Chief of Police Daryl Gates, whose tactics all believed favored suppression of African American and enforcement of the law through aggressive tactics proven to aid in compliance.

The news footage, interviews, personal photos, recollections, histories and significant events are expertly woven together giving the audience the opportunity to form their own opinion. Hindsight is, of course, 20/20 and in retrospect could have circumstances been handled differently, of course. Could the assumptions, the PCP catch all defense, be used less and even less acceptable if more were known about the drugs effects, yes, obviously yes.

The facts remain, the only variables are the individual responses, the LAPD who believed they had the authority to act with excessive violence and fall back on the PCP defense which is similar to fear mongering, the beast, under the influence of PCP, will kill your children.

Good people died during those years. Men who maybe didn’t live up to their potential, who drank a bit too much, maybe smoked some pot and on a fateful night engaged in other substances; women, who were simply in the wrong place, even the safest neighborhoods, at the wrong time.

Let It Fall moves between the police account of the incident and the families who suffered because of the incident. The first the choke hold death of an African American male, a female in Westwood, when the street gangs thought they could move into the wealthy neighborhoods, the strained Korean-African American relations escalated with the murder of a 15-year-old in a Korean neighborhood store, y the store's owner and of course, the videotaped beating of Rodney King.

The videotaped beating which was seen around the world was captured by a neighbor who happened to have just bought the camera and in response to the police presence, sirens and screaming, decided to tape it.

The brutality was shocking; sedating, ‘even if’ opinions would begin conversations would end with heads shaking, unable to comprehend. The force, inflicted with the PR 24, a new weighted night stick, was alarming. The subject, Rodney King, a large man, was systematically beaten into submission. The argument, of course, he was dangerous, an animal hyped up on PCP, a fact later disputed by medical reports.

So, the dawn of the next day, the four police officers involved were indicated and charged with various crimes. The trial was moved from LA County where a fair trial seemed impossible to Ventura County. To the a sleepy bedroom community of Simi Valley, where the demographics favored the race of the officers, and every other household was somehow involved in public service. All officers were found "Not Guilty" by a jury of their peers.

This injustice was the spark that ignited a powder keg that had been growing for ten years and in one day, Los Angeles was overtaken by its own angry and violent citizens. The worst of L.A. came out that day and lasted for three days, businesses were looted, burned to the ground, Koreans were warned not to return home but to protect their business, neighbors were pitted against neighbor.

Unmatched traumatizing devastation as the world watched Reginald Denny, a white semi-truck driver, pulled from the cab of his rig by a group of African American men, his skull crushed as violence spilled onto the streets, innocence was shattered, misplaced rage and violence ruled.

The riots left 25 dead, 572 injured and more than 1,000 fires reported. Looting resulting in billions of dollars of loss, fractured communities, divisive distrust between police and the community.

An accurate, poignant and personal documentary of the events leading up to the Rodney King beating and subsequent trial and verdict sparking the Los Angeles Riots, Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982 – 1992 is as honest and staggering, as the day. It is not to be missed.

Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982 – 1992 has secured an air-date of April 28, 2017, 9PM, with ABC Television. Check local listings.

Images courtesy of Google and used with permission.

 

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