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Peace parades mark 25th anniversary of LA Riots

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Participants of a peace rally at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, hold hands and pray before marching on the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Participants of a peace rally at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, hold hands and pray before marching on the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
Warrick Page/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Participants of a peace rally at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, hold hands and pray before marching on the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: People march in a peace rally, marking the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
Warrick Page/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Participants of a peace rally at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, hold hands and pray before marching on the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: People march in a peace rally, marking the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
Warrick Page/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Participants of a peace rally at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, hold hands and pray before marching on the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: An LAPD vehicle is parked next to protest banners written in Korean and English for a peace rally to mark the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
Warrick Page/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Participants of a peace rally at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, hold hands and pray before marching on the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: People march in a peace rally, marking the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
Warrick Page/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Participants of a peace rally at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, hold hands and pray before marching on the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Participants of a peace rally, march through the streets, marking the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The riots were sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
Warrick Page/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Participants of a peace rally at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, hold hands and pray before marching on the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Florence and Normandie was the flashpoint for the riots that was sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Participants of a peace rally, march through the streets, marking the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, on April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The riots were sparked by the police acquittals in the Rodney King beating. (Photo by Warrick Page/Getty Images)
Warrick Page/Getty Images


Twenty-five years ago, a jury acquitted four white police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King, sparking looting and violence that would turn into one of the deadliest race riots in American history.

On Saturday, hundreds of people marked the anniversary with marches advocating peace and hope.

A "Future Fest" began at Florence and Normandie avenues — the South Los Angeles intersection where rioting erupted — and was followed by a community festival.

Organizer Eric Ares, 34, is a lifelong resident of the area. He remembers the electricity going out in his house at the start of the rioting, leaving his family essentially cut off from the outside world without lights or a TV.

"For the next couple of nights, there was this fear going on," he said. "We were huddled up in the living room."

When he did venture outside, Ares saw plumes of smoke coming from places where buildings had been torched. But a small restaurant on the corner, a liquor store and other local businesses were untouched, he said.

People had a "real feeling of anger and frustration," but it was mainly directed at police, politicians and businesses they believed oppressed, neglected or exploited them, Ares said.

Graffiti on walls warned: "No justice, no peace," he said.

"I remember being at the park on the third day, people screaming: 'We're not gonna let them do it to us anymore," Ares said.

Juan King, Rodney King's younger brother, was four-years-old when the riots broke out. He told KPCC's media partner, NBC 4, what he thinks his brother would've said about the day's events: "He would be pleased with this because not only is it acknowledgement of his injustice that he experience and we as a nation, but it's also another movement for peace."

But while the march and festival marks the events of a quarter-century ago, the commemoration also looked to a future where community organizations are working to deal with problems still confronting South L.A., Ares said.

"There's still extreme poverty. There's still issues of law enforcement ... education and health care and access to good jobs," he said. "But the difference is, we have a plan."

About five miles north of the intersection, a peace parade was held in the Koreatown neighborhood, where tensions between black residents and Korean-American immigrant storekeepers led to markets, shops and gas stations being looted or burned. Some merchants stood guard with guns to protect their stores.

In the wake of the riots, community groups reached out and tried to mend fences.

On Saturday, several hundred people marched in an enthusiastic show of unity that included Korean drummers in traditional costume, a South Los Angeles drumline, taekwando students and schoolchildren from Watts.

K. Choi, 73, of Arcadia, was among the marchers. He helped organize the original peace march days after the rioting and said he believed racial relations had vastly improved.

"At that time it was different," he said. "The politics and the social problems, whatever, all commingled together and then things exploded."

"But now is a very different situation," he said. "All those relationships are getting better between (the) Korean and black community, including (the) Spanish community ... we're getting along very good, and I hope we're getting a better future."