What is the legacy of the 1992 L.A. riots?
This April 29 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which began after a jury acquitted four L.A. police officers accused of beating Rodney King, a black motorist who was pulled over after a pursuit. Over the next few days, parts of Los Angeles burned in arson fires as Angelenos rioted and businesses were looted. Fifty-three people died in the violence, thousands were injured, and property damage mounted close to $1 billion.
Twenty years later, the riots remain a pivotal point in L.A. history. The Korean American journalist K.W. Lee wrote in 2002 on the ten-year anniversary of the upheaval that it was “America’s first multiethnic urban unrest, signaling a radical departure from the historical white-black paradigm. It exposed the widening ethnic, class and cultural chasms between the inner-city poor and the suburban middle class, immigrants and natives, English speaking and non-English speaking.”