Berliner Tageszeitung - Los Angeles marks 30 years since Rodney King riots

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Los Angeles marks 30 years since Rodney King riots

Los Angeles marks 30 years since Rodney King riots
Los Angeles marks 30 years since Rodney King riots / Foto: © AFP

Black and Asian community leaders gathered in Los Angeles on Friday to mark 30 years since the US city was engulfed in violence in the wake of the acquittal of four police officers for the brutal beating of Rodney King.


Dozens died and a billion dollars of damage were wrought as anger flared across the multi-ethnic city following the verdicts, which came despite graphic footage of the assault on the Black motorist.

"My late father, Rodney King, became synonymous with police brutality to some people. But our family remembers him as a human being -- not a symbol," Lora King, CEO of the Rodney King Foundation told a crowd.

"He never advocated for hatred or violence and pleaded for peace as the city burned by asking, 'Can we all get along?' That's my father's legacy."

Many of the businesses that were ransacked in the violence belonged to Korean-Americans.

Sprawling Los Angeles has long prided itself on being one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities on Earth.

But racial groups have often clustered in divided communities, from wealthy white Bel-Air to Black Baldwin Hills and Latino East Los Angeles -- all just a few miles apart.

On April 29, 1992, the closely watched trial of the four cops charged with King's beating ended with verdicts of "not guilty."

Hours later, violence broke out in then-predominantly Black South Los Angeles, where many mom-and-pop stores were run by Korean immigrants.

Koreatown itself was soon ablaze, with gun-wielding residents standing on shop roofs to defend their property in images beamed around the world.

- 'Trauma' in communities -

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday the passage of three decades had not healed all wounds from the days-long rampage.

"To the families that lost someone, to the children of business owners who still haven't slept a single good night since then, to the communities that have moved on without being moved up, the anger and the grief that exploded 30 years ago are still very real and present in trauma here today," he said.

The violence in 1992 was "both a trauma and a turning point for our city -- a moment of pain and destruction from which we emerged stronger and more resilient."

"On this 30th anniversary, let's remember the lessons from 1992 to forge a better and more prosperous Los Angeles for everyone who calls this city home," he added.

The calls for unity came as an annual survey revealed two-thirds of respondents thought it likely that similar riots could happen in the next five years.

The proportion is the highest in the 25 years that Loyola Marymount University has been running the poll.

Karen Bass, a Black candidate for mayor, said she was shocked by the results.

"We absolutely cannot allow things to get so bad for people to be so despondent and so desperate that they tear up the city. We can't have that happen again," she said.

"If you look back at any of the pictures of the looting, you can see that people are stealing basic goods," she said.

"They're stealing food. They're stealing diapers. They're stealing milk. They're trying to survive.

"And the similarity with now is that we're in another situation where the economic divide is really large."

T. Jones--BTZ