The L.A. Riots of 1992 is and the police brutality case that spurred them are some of those events that will always be remembered by us that watched it play out on live TV. The riots brought up the still resonant issues of class, race, and police brutality, and became an even more a divisive event since it happened during a presidential campaign. In All Involved, Ryan Gattis takes us through working-class Los Angeles during six days after the Rodney King verdict to show us the human side to the history.
The book is a mosaic of short stories, each from a different point of view and dealing with murders and other crimes that were committed while the riots were going on and the police were indisposed. The people range from gangbangers (a large percentage of the characters), firemen, nurses, a homeless man, and even a soldier, known as Anonymous, in a paramilitary unit brought in to handle the gangs. Many of the tales interlock or brush up against each other. One vivid story involves a civics lesson a Korean American teen gets when he helps his relatives protect their stores.
This approach allows us to look at the community where the violence sprung. We get the collection of diverse people, not the monolith of an angry mob. Each person we follow has their angel and demons, as well as aspirations and interesting outlooks. Gattis fleshes them out fully in the moments he gives them. By not focusing on the riots themselves, we get to know the citizens who lived lives before the event and will somehow have to continue after.
Gattis has picked a historical subject that couldn’t be more timely. He takes a situation that was literally viewed by many of us as black and white and shows the colors, shades, and textures of it. He makes the lives of All Involved vivid and important.
You can find copies of All Involved on our shelves after April 7, or you can pre-order a copy via bookpeople.com.