Fifteen Years After the Rodney King Riots
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America’s worst rioting of the 20th Century started after a white jury in Simi Valley acquitted 4 LA policemen in the videotaped beating of a black drunk-driving suspect named Rodney King. It was fifteen years ago yesterday and it went on for 5 days, with the worst of it in Koreatown and South Central LA. Are racial, ethnic and economic tensions better or worse? Whatever happened to the promise to rebuild? We’ll see if there are any new answers to some old questions.
It’s still called a “riot,” an “uprising” and a “civil disturbance,” depending on the point of view. What’s indisputable is that fifty five people died fifteen years ago, thousands were injured and 1,100 buildings were damaged or destroyed. After the National Guard and Marines helped stop the violence, Mayor Tom Bradley asked Olympics Czar Peter Uberroth to form Rebuild Los Angeles, a private group which came to be called RLA. They said the cost of restoring and improving devastated neighborhoods would be six billion dollars. When the RLA went out of business five years later, it could only count five hundred million. We begin our segment with John “Hope” Bryant, founder of the nonprofit organization “Operation Hope”.
Photo Credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
- John Bryant: Founder and Chairman of Operation Hope, @johnhopebryant
- Constance Rice: Civil rights attorney based in Los Angeles and Co-Director of the Advancement Project in Los Angeles
- Victor Kim: Chairman of the Korean American Coalition, Los Angeles
- Fernando Guerra: Professor of Political Science at Loyola Marymount University and Director of its Center for the Study of Los Angeles, @LMU_CSLA
A CD copy of Which Way L.A.? is a available by calling 1.888.600.5279.
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Which Way L.A.? is made possible in part by the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, which supports study and research into policy issues of the Los Angeles region.
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