The Los Angeles Riots

Confrontations in the wake of The Changes gave the U.S. its first good look at magic in action -- and also served as a flashpoint for civil unrest that briefly threatened to sweep the nation.

Event Information

Date: Friday, Dec. 20, 1996 Location: Downtown Los Angeles, CA, USA
Also Known As: Prayer Riots
Major Characters: CharacterDennisRedwing


EventTheFirstSighting not only prompted a wave of changes across the world, it also galvanized a strong religious reaction. Mass Christian prayer vigils and demonstrations were occurring in most major American cities by Friday. But Los Angeles inarguably got the worst of it.

Caught off guard, a stretched-thin police force had to contend not only with mass demonstrations, but also widespread unrelated looting and property destruction. In a move that would later be widely criticized and lead to a wave of high-level firings and resignations, the police department assigned cops disproportionately to affluent areas, leaving broad swaths of the city virtually unpatrolled and downtown's religious protesters ringed by a skeleton force of nervous authorities.

High-profile volunteer work by squads of therianthropes and mages, led by CharacterDennisRedwing, kept the city from falling into a deadly firestorm, but even they couldn't keep control when a moment of panic led to policemen firing tear gas on the downtown religious group. That escalated into a brief free-for-all, caught on live TV, that shocked a nation.

Immediate Reaction

A number of media teams were covering the city's escalating chaos that night; two even happened to be at the prayer vigil at the moment that first tear gas canister was fired. Live coverage of the city's struggles was therefore dramatic and widespread -- though also fragmentary and confused.

The theme of most national stations' coverage was the anarchy across the city and the heroic response of Redwing's peacekeeping teams. (Many local stations, in cooperation with authorities, were focusing on keeping residents updated and passing on emergency instructions.) The stations on the scene at the vigil, on the other hand, focused on the dramatic incident there.

ABC initially reported that the confrontation was sparked by the approach of theris. As this spread, it transformed into spurious reports that police were siding with the therianthropes and specifically attacking the Christians. By the next day, as a more coherent view of the riot emerged, that rumor was put to rest with explanations and evidence (including the video clip of a brief theri/police standoff). But the idea had already done its damage.

On Friday night in Boston, a wereleopard was seen talking to police (asking directions, it was later discovered) near that city's main religious demonstration; some vigil attendees, having heard the reports from Los Angeles, confronted them; and the situation escalated. Amid threats of expanded confrontations, police then shut down Boston's vigil, arresting many attendees. And suddenly, demonstrators elsewhere were hearing reports of police cracking down on Christianity on both coasts.

This spiral did continue in several other cities, but fortunately, the damage was minimized by its timing -- religious unrest grew smaller and more manageable as the evening crept on. By the next morning, an aggressive nationwide pushback had been launched; the government teamed up with religious leaders to call for calm, declared curfews and deployed National Guard troops to the most-affected areas.

By Saturday night or Sunday morning, most local officials had met with their religious counterparts to give some official status (and coordination) to what had been chaotic and unpredictable gatherings. Not only did this calm tensions and ease logistics, it also dispelled the worst of the theri-conspiracy rumors. As the weekend drew to a close, the moment of crisis had passed, and peacekeeping forces were rolled back.


The Los Angeles riots were among the most pivotal events of TTU's early eras. They marked the first large-scale, public use of magic. The riots were also the first time that theris were nationally newsworthy for what they were doing, not merely who they were. And those actions dramatically shaped public perception in the months to come.

That first impression of theris as superheros, riding in to rescue a city when the police were unable to keep order, left a lasting impression on the nation (and on the world ... or at least the parts of the world that didn't have an earlier formative experience with their own theris). Looking back, most historians agree that theris couldn't have won the showdown after EventTheMeeting without the boost in public sympathy that followed from the riots. Questions did eventually surface about the motives for the theris' presence -- CharacterDennisRedwing's lack of connection to Los Angeles, his decision to assemble fellow mages and go help anyway, his background in media relations -- but by then, the narrative had already been set.

On the other hand, the false reports of Christian oppression left lasting scars among the right wing, and for some, the rumors refused to die. CharacterMatthewGold in particular continued to believe in a theri/government conspiracy until his killing, and gathered quite an impressive amount of (dubious) research to back up his theories.


All times are local (Pacific)

Further Reading

Story Appearances
The following 9 page(s) belong to EventLosAngelesRiots

CategoryEras [Eras of TTU] CharacterDennisRedwing [Characters: Dennis Redwing] EraDragonInTheStreets [Era: Dragon In The Streets] EraTheShockSettlesIn [Era: The Shock Settles In]
EventTheExecutiveOrder [The Executive Order] EventTheFirstSighting [The First Sighting] EventTheFlyby [The Flyby] StoryNotesFromTheEnd [Stories: Notes From The End Of The World]
StoryRightHereRightNow [Stories: Right Here, Right Now]

Story Excerpts
"Los Angeles is a city under siege tonight as police try in vain to enforce a 6 o'clock curfew and officials await the arrival of National Guard troops. Downtown, we have police apparently sparking a riot by firing tear gas in the vicinity of a Christian prayer vigil at City Hall. In several neighborhoods, including South Central and Park Mesa Heights, we have what appear to be wizards and shapeshifters aiding injured people, stopping fires and clearing looters from city streets. All civilian air traffic above the city has been grounded for safety reasons. ABC's live, continuous coverage from the region will continue after this important safety message to Los Angeles residents from California state authorities." - StoryRightHereRightNow
"You weren't here for some of the early stuff, when they were stopping arsonists and looters," Chad interjected. "But then the riot started. We thought all bets were off, but I guess the crowd backed off pretty quickly. Nobody had much stomach for fighting the police after the first round of tear gas. Then -- they showed some footage -- a few animal people were moving through to help the injured and tear-gassed folks while the chaos was still dying down. They were helping the wounded to their feet and apparently magically healing them and telling them to head on home." - StoryNotesFromTheEnd (1)

Other Associated Pages
The following 9 page(s) belong to EventLosAngelesRiots

CategoryEras [Eras of TTU] CharacterDennisRedwing [Characters: Dennis Redwing] EraDragonInTheStreets [Era: Dragon In The Streets] EraTheShockSettlesIn [Era: The Shock Settles In]
EventTheExecutiveOrder [The Executive Order] EventTheFirstSighting [The First Sighting] EventTheFlyby [The Flyby] StoryNotesFromTheEnd [Stories: Notes From The End Of The World]
StoryRightHereRightNow [Stories: Right Here, Right Now]

Other Information


On this page, Redwing's groups are described as "mages" and "theris" interchangeably. That's because he assembled his teams by only contacting people who were both. Redwing wanted his forces to be both powerful and distinguishable -- non-mage theris would have been at too much risk from, e.g., bullets; and non-theri mages wouldn't have had the immediate visual impact on rioters and looters that his teams did.

Also, the riots were called the "Los Angeles Riots" only in the weekend they occurred, to distinguish them from the related unrest that sprung up nationwide. The media quickly designated them the "Prayer Riots" or the "Los Angeles prayer riots," and that's the name that stuck.

Writing Tips

For an excellent overview of a similar event, read up on the Rodney King riots at Wikipedia. Also keep in mind that, at the time of TTU's post-Changes riots, the Rodney King riots remain fresh in the mind of many Angelenos. In TTU, the police learned some important lessons from King ... but also missed some equally crucial ones.

The riots are the closest that TTU ever got to seeing superheroes in action. Groups of highly talented mages, reveling in the vast new capabilities of the reality-bending that they'd been practicing for years, faced off against largely disorganized opposition that had never had to deal with such powers and had no idea how to react effectively to them. Weight of numbers prevented the theris from shutting down the riots entirely, but by providing emergency response and a visible symbol of order in those crucial early hours, they helped keep what might otherwise have been bloody week-long unrest contained to a largely casualty-free 1-2 days.


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