Monday, May 06, 2019

Kurt Schlichter: "Be a Rooftop Korean"


But in the LA riots, law enforcement was massively outnumbered. Imposing order took time.

And until then, our citizens were on their own, at the mercy of the mob. Betting that the cavalry was going to come save you was a losing bet.

LA’s Korean shopkeepers knew that. They operated many small businesses in some of the least fashionable areas of Los Angeles, and they were already widely hated by activists, being scapegoated for problems and pathologies that long pre-dated their immigration to Southern California. So, they became targets for the mobs.

Bad decision by the mobs.

See, most of these Koreans had done their mandatory service in the Republic of Korea’s Army. Those ROK soldiers are the real deal – the Norks are not a theoretical threat and the South Korean army does not spend a lot of time talking about feelings. They were some solid dudes. So, when the local dirtbags showed up for some casual looting, they noticed the rooftops were lined with hardcore guys packing some serious heat, including the kind of scary rifles that the Democrats want to ban.

The Rooftop Koreans.

I think Schlichter makes these Koreans out to be much more badass than they actually were (or are). Most Korean guys go through their army training, and then let themselves go to seed except for the periodic mandatory retraining they must undergo. These troops can hardly be called the best of the best. And if I recall, it's not as if the Korean shop-owners mowed down thousands of looters during the 1992 LA riots. Did they kill anyone? Wikipedia notes that 2300 Korean establishments were looted and/or burned in 1992, and that this damage constituted fully 45% of all the damage done during the '92 riots. So how effective, really, were the Rooftop Koreans?

But Wikipedia also reinforces Schlichter's point about the need to be ready to defend yourself and your community before the inaptly named first responders arrive on scene (as the saying goes: when seconds count, the police are just minutes away).

An article from the Los Angeles Times on June 18, 1991, highlights the growing violence prior to the riots. "Other recent incidents include the May 25 shooting of two employees in a liquor store near 35th Street and Central Avenue. The victims, both recent emigrants from Korea, were killed after complying with robbery demands made by an assailant described by police as an African-American. Last Thursday, an African-American man suspected of committing a robbery in an auto parts store on Manchester Avenue was fatally wounded by his accomplice, who accidentally fired a shotgun round during a struggle with the shop's Korean-American owner. "This violence is disturbing too," store owner Park said. "But who cries for these victims?"

On March 16, 1991, a year prior to the Los Angeles riots, storekeeper Soon Ja Du physically confronted black ninth-grader Latasha Harlins, grabbing her sweater and backpack when she suspected she had been trying to steal a bottle of orange juice from Empire Liquor, the store Du's family owned in Compton. Latasha hit Du in an attempt to get Du to release her arm and coat. Subsequently, Latasha turned to walk away and Du shot her in the back of the head, killing her. (Security tape showed the girl, already dead, was clutching $2 in her hand when investigators arrived.) Du was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and forced to pay a fine of $500, but not sentenced to any prison time. Relations between the African-American and Korean communities significantly worsened after this, and the former became increasingly mistrustful of the criminal justice system. Racial tensions had been simmering for years between these groups. Many African Americans were angry toward a growing Korean migrant community in South Central Los Angeles earning a living in their communities, and felt disrespected and humiliated by many Korean merchants. Cultural differences and a language barrier further fueled tensions. The probation Du received for killing Latasha Harlins, combined with the acquittal of the four LAPD officers in Rodney King's trial, resulted in the ensuing Los Angeles riots, with much anger directed at Koreans.

Television coverage of two Korean merchants firing pistols repeatedly at roving looters was widely seen and controversial. The New York Times said "that the image seemed to speak of race war, and of vigilantes taking the law into their own hands." The merchants were reacting to the shooting of Mr. Park's wife and her sister by looters who had converged on the shopping center where the shops were located.

Due to their low social status and the language barrier with immigrants, Korean Americans received very little if any aid or protection from police authorities. David Joo, a manager of the gun store, said, "I want to make it clear that we didn't open fire first. At that time, four police cars were there. Somebody started to shoot at us. The LAPD ran away in half a second. I never saw such a fast escape. I was pretty disappointed." Carl Rhyu, also a participant in the Koreans' armed response, said, "If it was your own business and your own property, would you be willing to trust it to someone else? We are glad the National Guard is here. They're good backup. But when our shops were burning we called the police every five minutes; no response."

At a shopping center several miles north of Koreatown, Jay Rhee, who said he and others fired five hundred shots into the ground and air, said, "We have lost our faith in the police. Where were you when we needed you?" Koreatown was isolated from South Central Los Angeles, yet despite this, it was the most severely damaged in the riots.

So Schlichter is probably right to emphasize the need for preparedness when it comes to home and community defense. But there's little evidence that the Rooftop Koreans ended up being all that effective in keeping their own properties safe.

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