19 Years After L.A.’s Uprising, What’s Changed?

Black, brown and Asian communities are still searching for answers two decades after one of the nation's deadliest urban uprisings.

By Hatty Lee, Thoai Lu May 04, 2011

Nearly twenty years ago today, Los Angeles streets lay smoldering in the aftermath of the one of the nation’s deadliest urban uprisings. The six days of violent unrest resulted from the acquittal of four white police officers caught on tape mercilessly beating Rodney King, a black man. Although official numbers are still inconclusive, it’s been widely reported that the riots resulted in more than 50 deaths, 2,000 injuries, 12,000 arrests and millions of dollars in property damage. Now, exactly nineteen years later, residents are still grappling to make sense of the economic and social realities that set the city aflame in the first place.

New America Media recently pointed to a report in Korea Daily that suggested better relations between the city’s Korean and Latino residents, but significantly strained ones between Korean and black residents — a persistent theme that’s played out over several decades. Yet the larger structural themes that helped inflame the city’s rage have gone largely unchanged. Headlines are still saddled with stories of killer cops and a legal system that easily forgives their crimes. And nationally, communities of color are still suffering through a jobless recovery in one of this nation’s worst economic recessions. Black and Latino unemployment rates are nearly double than those for whites, and the foreclosure crisis has helped decimate a large swath of the wealth that did exist in communities of color.  So while there have been positive signs of unity within communities of color, we’ve still got a very long way to go.

Here is a clip from "Sa-I-Gu (4/29)", a documentary about the LA riots from the Korean American perspective.

Here are some photos from the ’92 riots:

Fires during the LA riots. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Police line during the LA riots. (Photo: MIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Vermont Ave: Part of LA’s Koreatown that was hit hard by rioters. (Photo Creative Commons/danagraves)

Protest signs put up after the riots. (Photo Creative Commons/danagraves)

Aftermath of the riots. (Photo: Creative Commons /Dark Sevier)