Today is the 20th Anniversary of the LA Riots that broke out for several days across the city in reaction to the acquittal of four LA police officers accused of beating Rodney King during a March 1991 videotaped traffic stop
The epicenter was the then predominately Black South Central LA neighborhood (now called South LA) where the anger and frustration at the LA po-po’s policing tactics was at the highest along with anger over the acquittal.
The riots that lasted until May 4 resulted in 53 deaths, with 10 of those deaths being people shot and killed by the LAPD.and caused and estimated billion dollars in property damage.
Once order was restored, it led to major changes and reforms in the Los Angeles Police Department..
But the ‘a riot is the language of the unheard’ Dr. King quote from his March 1968 The Other America speech is echoing through my mind as I think about what happened in LA twenty years ago.
Twenty years later the structural inequalities and negativity aimed at African-Americans still hasn’t been addressed, is continuing to be ignored, and we still have to deal with a ‘just-us’ system that negatively impacts us. Combine that with a Republican Party so bankrupt of ideas their only play is to exacerbate racial tensions to win an election against an African-American president, increasing tension over the Trayvon Martin case and sadly, we may see another manifestation of the ‘language of the unheard’ breaking out in some American city in the near future. .