How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Recollections of the riots, 20 years later

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What do you call what happened in L.A. 20 years ago in April-early May, and how did you come to learn about what happened back then?

This was the question to the audience that kicked off a community town hall event on the 1992 Los Angeles riots at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum last week. It was the preamble to a long and nuanced conversation about where the city has gone since, with a panel presentation from the moderators of several KPCC focus groups addressing the riots (the results of which be shared next week on Multi-American) and the results of a survey from Loyola Marymount University, which took the temperature of race relations in L.A. twenty years later.

But it was that initial question asked of the audience by senior news editor and moderator Cheryl Devall - what we remember of those confusing days that began April 29, 1992, and how their legacy has stuck - that defined the evening.


How safe do you feel in L.A.? It depends on your race

Photo by Erika Aguilar/KPCC

An officer at the scene of the double murder of two University of Southern California students in Los Angeles' West Adams neighborhood, April 11, 2012

Angelenos needn't brace themselves for another riot anytime soon, according to a new survey released today. But they don't see life in the city the same way, with differences in how they perceive race relations, their safety, and other aspects of life depending at least somewhat on their race and ethnicity.

A couple of weeks ahead of the 20th anniversary of the city's 1992 riots this April 29, Loyola Marymount University's Center for the Study of Los Angeles has released the results of a survey that shows Angelenos to be generally optimistic about their hometown.

Asked if it was "likely or unlikely" that there would be riots or disturbances like those experienced in 1992 within the next five years, only 41 percent of 1,600 respondents said yes, compared with 61 percent during a similar survey in 1997. An overall majority also said they'd seen progress in race relations.