Patt Morrison for April 11, 2012

Twenty years after the L.A. Riots: how have race relations changed?

Rioters destroy an iron gate from a store in downt

WADE BYARS/AFP/Getty Images

Rioters destroy an iron gate from a store in downtown Los Angeles, 29 April 1992, hours after citywide rioting and looting broke out. The acquittal of four police officers in the beating of Rodney King led to widespread anger and rioting.

National Guardsmen patrols trough a dest

Hal Garb/AFP/Getty Images

National Guardsmen patrols trough a destroyed area, 01 May 1992 in central Los Angeles. The 1992 Los Angeles riots, with looting and arson events, erupted 29 April 1992 when a mostly white jury acquitted the four police officers accused in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King, after he fled from police. 52 people were killed during the riots and Rodney King became a reluctant symbol of police brutality. (Photo credit should read HAL GARB/AFP/Getty Images)


Looting, assault, arson and murder. Property damages of over $1 billion, thousands of injuries, and 53 people dead.

On April 29, 1992, three Los Angeles police officers — three white and one Hispanic — were acquitted of the charge of using excessive force against black motorist Rodney Glen King. In the days that followed the acquittal, the city erupted in one of the most lethal civil disturbances in United States history, now known simply as “The L.A. Riots.”

While we’d like to think we’ve moved beyond such volatile racial tensions, recent tragic events like the Trayvon Martin killing, the Tulsa, Oklahoma murders and the Kendrec McDade shooting right here in Pasadena, indicate that our society has a long way to go. Have race relations improved in the City of Angels?

Loyola Marymount University, in observance of the twentieth anniversary of the L.A. Riots, asked random Angelenos to weigh in on that question. The results of the survey, which was released this morning, indicate that while over half of all residents agree that racial and ethnic groups in L.A. are getting along “somewhat well” in 2012, nearly as many feel things overall are going in the “wrong direction.”

WEIGH IN:

How much progress have we made toward improving race relations? Are things better or worse in your community? What would it take to set off another racial firestorm in Los Angeles?

Guest:

Fernando Guerra, professor, director, Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University

Connie Rice, civil rights attorney; co-director, Advancement Project; member, KPCC Board of Directors

Marqueece Harris-Dawson, president, CEO, Community Coalition of South L.A

20th Anniversary of the LA Riots Survey

If you want to hear more about race and the legacy of the 1992 L.A. riots, come to our Crawford Family Forum event tonight at 7pm. Senior News Editor Cheryl Devall will talk about how we understand race’s role – in the ’92 upheaval itself and in our conversations about it two decades later. It’s free, but there are just a few spots left. RSVP


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