Shawn L. Smith stole a television during the 1992 Rodney King riots. Smith, who had recently been released from prison, joined the angry masses in South Central LA and helped himself to a Samsung twenty-four inch on day two of the week long civil unrest.
During my interview with the ex-convict, Smith explained that he stole the television because he was caught up in an “invisible adrenaline that seemed to flow through the smoggy atmosphere, connecting everyone, causing us all to run like packs of wild dogs”.
Smith described how civilization seemed to crumble all around him and in a sense he felt that he was the only one left in Los Angeles with compassion and care for his fellow human. However, after realizing that the police had lost control, he simply had to take a television because in reality, in an impoverished neighborhood, almost anyone would do the same.”
“It could have gone on forever,” he explained, but the excitement seemed to fade after all the televisions were gone.”
“Do you still regret what you did?” I asked as I returned a blunt to the thug who rolled it.
“Yes. Believe it or not, I do regret taking that television considering that I was still dealing in drugs and could easily have paid cash for the Samsung,” he said.
“Why do you suppose there was not looting in New York City following the terrorist attacks of September 11th?”
“There was no anger. The adrenaline that I experienced in Los Angeles was not the same here. We were at peace in New York City, but now I fear that if such an event took place again, the citizens of this town would react differently.”
“Why do you always show up in my dreams, even though you are dead?” I asked my former lover.
“I wanted to let you know that when the next event takes place, one should wear a du-rag over their face and loot the drug stores– for those pills are far more entertaining than a Samsung.”
“How long until I die,” I asked my lover in my dream.
“You never die sexy. You never die. Get what’s yours.”