Gary DuBois: Tribal spirit saved lives during 1992 Los Angeles riots

A burned out building is seen in the aftermath of the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mick Taylor

Gary DuBois, a citizen of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, was deployed with the National Guard during with 1992 riots in Los Angeles, California. He shares his experience, 25 years later:
As a 35 year-old National Guardsman, I was one of those who were called upon to put an end to the violence or at least help assuage the fears that were spreading beyond the scenes of violence. I was watching TV and the phone rang at my home. Of course, the TV was full of images of South Los Angeles burning. I was fully expecting to be activated.

My unit was located in Corona, California which is about 45 minutes from Los Angeles. I arrived there on April 29, 1992 and was issued an M-16 assault rifle, handgun, face mask, baton, and Vietnam era flak vest. My unit was Armor, which meant we were tankers, operating M60-A3 battle tanks. The tanks had four man crews; driver, loader, gunner, and tank commander. I was a sergeant and the gunner, which meant I operated and fired the 105mm main gun.

After we were placed on full active duty, the National Guard could not deploy us until we had ammo for our weapons, which was not a surprise considering none of us had ever been mobilized before. The bulk of the ammunition was in central California at Camp Roberts in San Luis Obispo County, and as Camp Roberts had no lights on the landing fields, the helicopters sent to pick up the ammo couldn’t land until daybreak. We all watched the rioting continue all night, on television.

Read More on the Story:
Gary DuBois: Remembering the LA Riots and the Tribalism That Saved Communities (Indian Country Media Network 4/30)