opstand en rassenrellen in Los Angeles

ID: 199204291465

Los Angeles Riots 10 Years Later and the Likelyhood of Another Revolt

By Alejandro A. Alonso Magazine

Los Angeles - Historians of the Black Urban experience have concentrated on New York and Chicago, tending to ignore the nation's second largest city, Los Angeles, yet the events in 1965 and 1992, the evolution of gangster rap music, the proliferation of gangs, sensational trials, and the growth of various forms of nationalism suggest that LA is a city worthy of deeper investigation. Gerald Horne was absolutely correct and several of these phenomena continue to shape and define Los Angeles in the 21st Century, such as the Rampart police investigation, the ouster of Chief of Police Bernard Parks, a recent significant increase in violence, and the upcoming trial of Robert Blake that will prove to have many eyes on LA for several weeks, but is the potential for another riot there?

Those of us old enough to remember August 1965, on that hot summer day when Marquette Frye was arrested for driving under the influence know how easy and how quickly a small protest can escalate into a full blown riot. The Watts riot surpassed all the riots of 1964 that occurred in New York City, Rochester, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Chicago, and Philadelphia in loss of life, injuries, arrests, and structures damaged. National Guards men were called in, and six days later, on August 16, 1965 the revolt came to an end. It would take two massive strikes by Blacks during 1967 in Newark, and Detroit to overshadow the Watts Riots, but it would still remain a significant episode in the Black Revolution of the 1960s, as it became the focus of several analysis and studies. Also what made the situation in Watts and Los Angeles so perplexing was that Blacks in Los Angeles were ranked first among sixty-eight cities in quality of life. In 1964, an Urban League study analyzing aspects of life among Los Angeles Blacks stated that housing, employment, and income were highly ranked compared to other cities for Blacks.

Twenty-seven years later, civil unrest would revisit Los Angeles, and once again earn its place in history as the worst urban revolt in American history. On April 29, 1992, following the not guilty verdicts of four Los Angeles Police Officers accused of beating motorist Rodney King, violence erupted at the intersection of Florence and Normandie in South Los Angeles. At the same time, individuals at the corner of 67th Street and 11th Avenue were revolting against passer-bys and motorists. Black residents were outraged that four LAPD officers received not guilty verdicts from an all white jury in Simi Valley, despite the videotape evidence of the beating of Rodney King, and the testimonial by veteran police officers on behalf of the prosecution. From April 29, 1992 at approximately 3:30 p.m. until May 1st, the violence raged on. The National Guard were called in to bring calm to the city, and by Friday afternoon the violence and looting were subdued. The most violent urban revolt that the United States had ever experienced in the twentieth century resulted in 52 deaths, 2,499 injuries, 6,559 arrests, 1,120 building damaged, 2,314 stores damaged and close to 1 billion in damages.

The following day on Saturday, May 2, 1992, Pete Ueberroth accepted Mayor Tom Bradley's appointment to head the newly formed non-profit organization dubbed Rebuild L.A to revitalize the ravaged sections of Los Angeles. He vowed to create sustainable jobs in South Los Angeles by getting corporations to make long-term commitments to the damaged areas. This organization was described by the mayor's office as an "extra-governmental task force" to rebuild Los Angeles, and if successful, transform neighborhoods known for providing service sector jobs to areas of industry and manufacturing, utilizing trained workers. Unfortunately RLA fell short many of it goals and Pete Ueberroth, who was magical in producing a major profit from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles was not able to foster the relationships and convince enough investors into South LA and he soon resigned from his post.

So is Los Angeles a more sustainable place for racial minorities to live today and does the potential for a riot loom in the near future? According to a recent poll, about 50% of those in Los Angeles believe that another riot could occur within several years, and those that claim a riot is inevitable point to the lack of economic stability in South Los Angeles as being the major reason why a riot can occur again. Magic Johnson's investments into Los Angeles are considered great efforts to build the community, especially his theater on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in South LA, but black activists claim that coffee shops are not enough. If you look around Los Angeles and gage economic transformations in various places it is not difficult to see that South Los Angeles has received little attention from business and investors. In the last 10 years, areas that have seen major transformations in terms of economic development and business investment include Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood Blvd, Universal City and Pasadena.

I believe that investors need to be convincingly sold on the idea of South LA and that there are millions of dollars that can be spent in South LA. Are these attempts being made or are there attempts by so called leaders of the community stagnating and preventing these types of investments to occur? Office Depot, Target, Home Depot, and Starbucks are a few of the new retailers that are present in some of the exact places where the riots damaged property in 1992 and investors such as Magic Johnson definitely help, but the discussion on economics does not address the issue of the potential of another riot occurring in Los Angeles.

If we go back to 1992 and examine the precipitating factor of the riot, economics actually played a small role influencing the revolt. Yes, there was a recession in Los Angeles and around the country, unemployment was at an all time high, high levels of poverty probably exacerbated the riots that took place, but the critical events and underlying factors to the revolt were the beating of Rodney King in 1991, the probation sentence handed down on Sun Ja Doo, a Korean store clerk that shot Latasha Harlins, a 15 year old black girl, in the back of the head after a dispute over orange juice, and the acquittal of the four LAPD officers. In the Sun Ja Doo incident the jury came back with a second-degree murder conviction, but Judge Joyce Karlin, a white woman, did the unheard of when she sentenced Doo to five years probation. This is what I believe paved the way for the worst urban riot in contemporary history and the fact that over 50% of the damaged or destroyed property was Korean owned was no accident, and is the reason why many characterize this event as an uprising or a revolt. Although many of the images captured certainly show those acting as opportunists taking advantage of an unfortuate situation, at the same time there was an organized attack against Korean establishments within South LA and outside of the black community along Vermont and Western Avenues, north of the black community. Relations between blacks and Koreans in Los Angeles have often been full of tension and there is housing evidence that suggests that those tensions are still present in 2002.

The critical factors that influenced the events of April 29, 1992 all took place within the criminal justice sector of society with the police department central to the events. This is were we must look to address the question of a potential third Los Angeles riot. Chief Daryl Gates was held accountable for the type of relationship that was created between the police and minority communities in South LA and his response to the first day of the riot was considered dismal. Also let us not forget history, when in 1965 people took to the streets of Los Angeles in protest the day following alleged police abuses after the arrest of a Marquette Frye on 116th Street and Avalon. Chief William Parker was also highly criticized for the sharp divide that was created between the black community and the militaristic police, and resentment towards the police grew worse every year since Parker took over as Chief in 1950 up until the violence erupted in 1965. One indication of the increasing tension between the police and the community was the number of complaints that blacks filed between 1950 and 1965. Parker claimed no responsibility during a commission and when asked what sparked the riot he replied "someone threw a rock, and like monkeys in a zoo, they all started throwing rocks."

All of the seven race riots of 1964 were also sparked by an incident of police misconduct. The Otto Kerner Commission of 1968 stated that police actions led to outbreaks in half of the cases studied and those that believe that another revolt will take place will need to examine law enforcement and the criminal justice system. If the LAPD of LASD engage in any inappropriate activity such as excessive force or unlawful officer involved shootings, an outbreak of violence is definitely possible. Let us not forget what happened in Cincinnati in April 2001 when the shooting death of Timothy Thomas, 19, whose death touched off three days of riots. Cincinnati police officer Steven Roach was later found not guilty of negligent homicide in the shooting, but these are the types of events that will determine if Los Angeles will see part three. Under Bernard Parks inappropriate activity from the rank and file was highly unlikely with the disciplinary system that he had in place, but the actions of the next police chief may determine if what happened in 1965 and 1992 will occur again. (20030905)

Land: USA