Last week was the 20 year anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots. For six days in the late days of April and early May in 1992, thousands of people in the Los Angeles looted and burned the city in response to the acquittal of the four white police officers who were caught on tape beating African American Rodney King. The fact that these officers got away with police brutality that was obviously documented for the world to see, boiled over a rage that had been brewing in the African American community for many years. Police brutality was a reality for many of the minorities living in the Los Angeles area. Many of the citizens of that area have stories of either themselves or someone they know experiencing unfair and sometimes even illegal and abusive treatment by the hands of the police. The black community had little recourse for these violations and continued to experience this as a part of everyday life for decades. The frustration was already there. Some say the pain goes even further back than mere decades. African Americans have experienced economic disparity and social injustice in one form or another since their existence in the United States. The scars and burdens of Black Life took their toll for a moment in time. The Rodney King verdict played a significant part in its own right, but contrary to popular belief, not the major cause of the riots. The verdict merely became the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
The city descended into chaos that included looting, murders, arson and just complete anarchy. Six days and four thousand National Guard troops later, there were 54 deaths, thousands of life altering injuries and one billion dollars’ worth of property damage left in the wake.
News programs and articles are commemorating the 20 year anniversary of one of the most chaotic events in American History. There is, however, a hesitation to discuss the issues that plagued the Black Community before the riots. These issues were a major catalyst and many of those issues still remain in the Black Community. Los Angeles was just one example in which tensions reached a head. This scenario exists and has existed in many places all over the United States. And until these issues are acknowledged and confronted by someone, anyone, sadly we are likely to repeat history.
Written by: Kika Ramsay
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this post are that of the author and not BLACK STREET entirely.