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L.A. violence invades newsroom.

Newspaper reports dumped the fire and mayhem of Los Angeles right into our laps. Readers everywhere devoured the gory details from a safe distance, while those gathering the news were out there in the inferno.

The editorial staff and the security staff at The Los Angeles Times had their hands full on Wednesday, April 29. A major news story - the acquittal of four white police officers in the beating of motorist Rodney King - had just broken, and a new one was erupting.

It started as a demonstration at police headquarters at Parker Center. "The demonstration turned sour," explained John Nickols, director of security for the Times, which is about a block away. "And it didn't take a rocket scientist to predict what would happen next. "

The Times had a little time to prepare itself for the unyielding, rock-wielding mob that was making - and breaking - its way down the street. Nickols did what he could - he put extra security personnel on duty and turned out the lights.

"You have to understand, we were powerless and defenseless." he said. The security department is an unarmed force and no police protection was available.

A mob of about 300 to 500 people smashed rocks through windows, broke into the newspaper's offices, set fires, and stole equipment. The editorial staff ran some of the rioters out of the building with fire extinguishers, but they were no match for the anger brewing outside.

"The rioters were picking up pieces of cement the size of melons and throwing them through the windows," Nickols recalled. And these are big windows." He won't soon forget that sound.

"The whole episode only took three to five minutes," he said, "but it was a long time. "

When silence finally came, the Times had $500,000 worth of damage on its hands, $200,000 in broken glass alone. Nickols said a few computers and fax machines were stolen. "It was just a wilding opportunity. it wasn't African-American activists doing the damage; it was street thugs and hoodlums of all colors." he said.

Nickols doesn't think Los Angeles will see violence an this scale again this summer: "The community is really pulling itself together to get back on its feet."
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:mob attacks Los Angeles Times offices during rioting
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Words:367
Previous Article:On the road with IDs.
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