20 Years Onward, How Have the Riots Changed LA?

In April 1992, L.A. erupted in a torrent of burning, looting, and rioting following the acquittal of three police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King. Josh Sides looks at how the city responded to those events and how it's changed since.
April 22, 2012, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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While the riots coincided with the acquittal of three of the four officers charged in the videotaped beating of King, they were the result of so much more.

As Sides asserts, "In the wake of the riots, planners, politicians, investors and community leaders offered up good-hearted and ambitious proposals to alleviate the chronic problems of unemployment, poverty, poor health, social isolation and physical abuse at the hands of law enforcement agents. But very few of these proposals produced fundamental changes in South Central L.A., especially for its African-American residents; and ultimately the most enduring change in the area over the past two decades - the transformation from an infamous black ghetto to a predominantly Latino immigrant community - was never planned. In many respects the story of South Los Angeles since 1992 is a cautionary tale, one that reminds us of the profound limits of planning and policy-making in regions of extraordinary demographic dynamism."

Sides looks at institutional efforts such as Rebuild LA, the "most high profile and ambitious response" that would "repeatedly overpromise and underachieve," and land use oriented initiatives such as liquor store abatement and the establishment empowerment zones, for signs of success and finds that demographic trends are the primary cause for the revitalization of the areas in which the riots were ignited.

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Published on Thursday, April 19, 2012 in Places
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