Los Angeles has turned into Fatahland.
“Where’s the fire department?” Karen asks.
Looters help themselves to everything from television sets and stereos to diapers and liquor.
Every so often we hear the distinctive flat crack of gunfire. Nowhere do we see any police.
Trying to avoid a massive traffic jam, I turn down a side street. Karen leans forward, spots something and cries:
Thirty yards separate us from a group of thugs chilling in the street. They watch us with flinty eyes. All wicked and street-savvy, they shuffle in our direction.
I shift into reverse. Back up a few feet, shift into drive, angling for a sharp U turn, but the thugs are coming up awfully fast in my rear-view mirror.
“Robert…” says Karen says through clenched teeth.
No time for a neat, driver’s-ed three-point turn.
I blast forward, squeak through a gap between two parked cars, hurtle right up onto the sidewalk, and then it’s yet another bone-rattling move down the high curb, back into the street.
It takes us over an hour and a half to get home. Normally, this drive would take twenty minutes.
Listening to the radio, we hear about the Rodney King verdict. So that’s the grievance du jour.
The fire department, we learn, is not being deployed because its men have come under intense gunfire.
We hear – and I have trouble believing this report – that the Los Angeles Police Department has been “pulled back for their own safety.”
Huh? I thought that was part of the job description.
* * * * *
Casa Avrech: I carry Offspring #2 to bed, where she recites the Shema and then promptly falls asleep. We tell Ariel how proud of him we are. He shrugs. No big deal. Five minutes later, he’s fast asleep.
Karen, crisp and efficient, pins a bed sheet over the large picture window in the living room. We cannot be too careful. I search the house for a weapon, settling on an old ice axe from my mountain-climbing days.
Karen and I watch on TV as poor Reginald Denny, pulled from his truck by a group of savages, gets his brains bashed in. (We later learn his skull was fractured in 91 places.) We gaze in horror and disbelief as the barbarians dance over his broken body. With tears in our eyes, we see pious citizens step in and halt this atrocity, rescuing the tragic truck driver.
There’s a video of Fidel Lopez, a Guatemalan immigrant. He, like Denny, is pulled from his truck and robbed. But theft is almost beside the point. The rioters/torturers smash open his head, then slice off an ear.
Gazing from our bedroom window, we watch orange flames lick at the darkness, pillars of black smoke climbing into the sky. We can actually smell the acrid odor of burning rubber.
“Look how close they are,” says Karen.
“Just past La Cienega. Maybe eight blocks away.”
Karen gives me a long penetrating gaze: “What do we do if they come here?”
“After this is all over,” I vow, “I’m going to buy a pistol.”
Karen says: “How about a shotgun?”
* * * * *
Some fifty-eight people died in the rioting – fifty of them were murdered – and two thousand were seriously injured.
At last, the LAPD was deployed. Its officers made approximately ten thousand arrests. Between 800 million and a billion dollars in property damage was reported. Approximately 3,600 fires were deliberately set, destroying 1,100 buildings.
Korean shopkeepers were specifically targeted by black rioters. But the Koreans owned guns and heroically defended their property and lives through force of arms, frequently using AR-15s against heavily armed looters.
If the Los Angeles riots taught us anything, it’s that you’re a fool if you count on the authorities to protect you in times of civil chaos – in fact, at any time. In the end, only I can protect my family.
I’m never going to allow myself to be outgunned by the bad guys. All the gun laws that are on the books just make it that much easier for the barbarians to amass weapons and for law-abiding people like you and me to be at their mercy.
About the Author: Robert J. Avrech is an Emmy Award-winning Hollywood screenwriter and producer. Among his numerous credits are "A Stranger Among Us” and "The Devil's Arithmetic.” His novel "The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden" won the 2006 Ben Franklin Award for Best First Novel and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award for Notable Children's Book of Jewish Content. His most recent book is a memoir, “How I Married Karen,” an eBook available at Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble, which Avrech is now developing as a major motion picture. His website is Seraphic Secret (seraphicpress.com).
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