byline Yahoo April 29, 1992 and other sources below:
Good Samaritans risk all to save Reginald Denny.
In one of the most disturbing images from the Los Angeles riots, six black assailants dragged Reginald Denny, a 33-year-old truck driver, out of his truck in South Los Angeles and bashed his head in with a brick.
A television chopper broadcast the violence live. The attack happened shortly after not-guilty verdicts were handed down in the racially charged trial of the police beating of Rodney King, which kicked off six days of rioting that left dozens dead and thousands injured.
About a mile and a half away, Titus Murphy and his then-girlfriend Terri Barnett were watching the Denny attack on live television. Murphy, who was an unemployed engineer at the time, couldn’t believe what he saw.
“When this gentleman was getting beat something was just telling me this isn’t right, this isn’t what it’s all about,” he told Yahoo News 20 years later. “When he got hit in the head with the brick something told me to go down there. I just reacted.”
Murphy and Barnett drove about a block away from the now infamous corner of Normandie and Florence to see if the rioters would let them get any closer. Murphy saw that Denny had managed to drag himself back into the cab of the truck, which was moving very slowly. Murphy ran to the passenger side and jumped on the running board; he saw a woman named Lei Yuille comforting Denny inside the cab.
Just then, a hulking guy named Bobby Green leaped on the running board of the other side. The two stared at each other through the windows, each fearing the other was a rioter.
“I asked him, ‘Who are you? What are you going to do?'” Murphy says. “He said, ‘What are you going to do?’ I didn’t know he was thinking the same thing I was thinking. I figured I had to take him on, he figured he had to take me on. We were both over 6 feet tall. I told him I was going to drive the truck and he said, ‘I’m a truck driver.’ That was the end of that.”
Green jumped in and drove the massive truck a terrifying three miles to the hospital, with Murphy’s girlfriend Barnett guiding the way by driving in the car in front. Murphy clung to the outside of the truck for the entire journey, feigning to be a rioter by pounding on the outside of the vehicle as if he had taken it for loot.
“There were cars approaching us and swinging bats and sticks and guns and stuff,” he said. “I had to pretend that I was part of the riot so that the people in the cars wouldn’t try to take us on or try to take advantage of the truck again. I started beating on the truck like it was mine. The trick really worked.”
Reginald Denny speaks
Excerpt from Time Magazine (time.com)
Bobby Green – One of Four spontaneous heroes
There are no shortage of examples of how the L.A. riots brought out the worst in people. But Bobby Green’s actions on the first day of the unrest, showed that they could also bring out the best.
Despite misperceptions about the people of inner-city Los Angeles, the vast majority were victims of the riots rather than the perpetrators. “It took about three days to restore order, but people didn’t want us to go home,” he explained. “They told us it was the first time in years they felt safe just going to the market.”