James Cameron oddly enough picked a cop as he saw Do the Right Thing and found it interesting how many critics and even politicians spoke of how "dangerous" the film was. Namely if you show a movie in which cops MURDER a man and people riot the audience may riot. Yet many people seemingly ignored how in the film with a riot the cops were the ones who went too far.
Cameron did an interview were he went into detail about how he felt something was wrong in society where those who riot over the murder of a person by police gets more attention then the person the police murdered. Add to this the seemingly invisible nature of police were they can be anywhere and the reaction is not anger or suspicion but "oh what do you need officer?"
I think the intensity of the riots was as it was precisely because it took place in Los Angeles in the End of the Cold War. It went viral and inspired more outrage than usual because Los Angeles was already a tinderbox. Even putting aside the Harlins case, you had a vision of at least two LAs - one was the LA of Hollywood, of glamor, the cultural capital of the Western world. The other LA was an LA of recently-shuttered defense factories, of ethnic tensions between black, Latino, white and Asian, of soaring unemployment and dislocation (no real peace dividend in LA). The place was a tinderbox waiting to explode, but the fire would not have been so bad if not for the Holliday tape.
The riots, in a way, was the shattering of the barrier, even if only for a few days, between the two LAs. And then, until 2020, the barrier went back up (to a certain extent, Los Angeles has never really recovered from the collapse of the defense industry, as most new jobs went to those with college educations, which is cold comfort to a welder who only finished high school.)