All Involved, Ryan Gattis (2015)

22756871Multiples viewpoints, fictional testimony,  of the real time chaos of the Los Angeles rioting in the days after the Rodney King verdict in early 1990s. “All Involved” is a curious title that stuck me in one way as certainly intended by the author and in others perhaps unintentionally.  Both have to do with the authors re-occuring comparative narrative of the Watts 1965 uprising with the King riots nearly 30 years later.  Both of course are classic examples of the clash of poverty, race, and violent policing. Gattis has little work to do explaining this now quite self-evident sequence that we are now “all involved” in, at least through media coverage.  He does adopt a more sociological mode, outside the voices of any of his subject citizens or police officers, to offer some contrasting elements of the two similarly caused and casted episodes of urban rebellion and police response. Geographically and demographically the 60s and 90s LA riots were quite unalike.  “All involved” for the Watts riot recalls the UCLA social science-War on Poverty-Kerner Commission survey conclusions about the very small area of south LA  where nearly all the  African-Americans, no six degrees separating the “criminal” from the “by-stander” in the community in many of the measures of “involvement.”  The 1990s riots came on the heels of the inaugural violently visible video captured group clubbing and kicking of a big black male motorist by a police gang who beat the rap— the peerless Simi valley white jurors immune to the reality, the viral societal sickness of brutal policing.  These riots broke out in the poor heavily policed neighborhoods all over the city  “All involved” is voiced only once in the book.  A  Latina gang member, who we come to like very much, means it to contrast  the ongoing lives of her network of gang allies and enemies — for whom the attention of police to the uprising opens a space for.. a short breath and then for settling scores— and the anger,  property destruction mayhem, street actions, and looting of the rioters.  Gang murders, indeed most of the accounting of deaths during the post -King verdict days, are suggested to be related to those who were not , sociologically — “involved” today— but those ontologically , always and already “involved.”  The police too.  The most chilling gang work is carried out— off the books by off duty combined units of special forces style police squads who operate overnight and outside the view  of those “involved”.. the poor, the police in blue, the politicians, and the viewers at home — in the riot. Settling scores, yes.   I read (actually listened.. alas reviewing more difficult ) in conjunction with another 2015 book, this one a more standard journalist account of LAPD and community by Jill Leovy, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America. More theoretical and historical  but resonant is  Joshua Clover’s 2016 Riot. Strike. Riot: The New Era of Uprisings.

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