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Straight Outta Compton (riot scene)

Straight Outta Compton is a 2015 film by director F. Gary Gray. The film chronicles the rise of rap group N.W.A. (Eazy E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, MC Ren), from their early days in Compton, California to prominence on the international stage, followed by the subsequent splintering of the group that birthed the solo careers of Ice Cube and later, Dr. Dre. An important throughline in the film focuses on police brutality, racial profiling and the overall unjust treatment of Black people at the hands of the police – issues that motivated Ice Cube to write the hit rap song, “F**k tha Police.” In this scene, news reporter Peter Jennings announces the acquittal of all four police officers who had been charged in the violent beating of Black motorist Rodney King. Frustration and anger over the verdict sparked the Los Angeles riots of 1992 that are depicted in this scene. At the end of the scene, two men approach the police while holding a red and a blue handkerchief that have been tied together; these handkerchiefs represent the Bloods and the Crips respectively — two gangs that have been fighting each other in South Los Angeles since the 1960s.


How does director F. Gary Gray represent the 1992 LA riots in this scene? How do we see and hear multiple perspectives on the riot (through the layering of voices on the soundtrack, the violence in the streets, the witnesses in the car, the gang members coming together)?

The riot scene is dramatized, but the news report announcing the verdict at the beginning of the scene is not; it is an actual news report from 1992. How does the inclusion of real news footage contribute to the authenticity of the story and the events it represents?

What is the significance of the two warring gangs — the Bloods and the Crips — coming together during the protest? What does this union say about alliances and power in the fight for social change?

How does this scene reflect contemporary protests against racial injustice and police brutality? Why are these issues still so prevalent in our society?


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