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Looking Back To ‘92: The Los Angeles Riots And The Reforms That Followed




People walk past the name Rodney King seen on a chain-link fence surrounding Silver Lake Reservoir in Los Angeles, on June 9, 2020.
People walk past the name Rodney King seen on a chain-link fence surrounding Silver Lake Reservoir in Los Angeles, on June 9, 2020.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

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Almost three decades ago, four police officers were acquitted of brutalizing Rodney King, a black man whose nearly fifteen-minute beating was captured on camera and broadcast nationwide. 

Five days of unrest followed, labelled by some as riots and by others as an uprising, in which fires were lit and stores were looted, largely in South Los Angeles. But the Rodney King verdict was just the final straw, which broke on the back of years of economic and racial disparity, as well as the killing of fifteen-year old Latasha Harlins by a Korean store owner, which stoked tensions between the Korean and black communities of Los Angeles. 

We look back to the events of 1992, as well as the police reforms that followed and what parallels and contrasts can be drawn to the events of today. 

If you were in Los Angeles in 1992, share your memories with us by calling 866-893-5722.

Guests:

Frank Stoltze, correspondent covering the Los Angeles area, with a focus on politics and criminal justice; he tweets @StoltzeFrankly

Cheryl Dorsey, retired sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD); She served between 1980-2000

Raphe Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State LA; author of “Politics in Black and White: Race and Power in Los Angeles” (Princeton University Press, 1993)

Angela Oh, lawyer and mediator; in 1992, she was the incoming president of the Korean American Bar Association and was active in L.A.’s Korean community