BY: KATHERINE KIM
The city of angels has been through more than any other city in the world. From the Los Angeles riots to lingering tensions between people of different cultures, LA has its different highs and lows.
Los Angeles is known as an ever evolving city. Changing everyday from its multicultural and diverse standpoint. It has been shaped and created to be a city of cultural diversity not by coincidence, but through the different events that occurred in history.
This city has sustained and continues to be a growing melting pot of cultures. Many people remember the Los Angeles riots as a breaking point for the African American community.
It all started in 1992. According to Jim Rainey of the Los Angeles Times, an African-American man named Rodney King was pulled over by LAPD following a high speed police pursuit. He was subsequently taken out of his vehicle, questioned, and brutally attacked and beaten by four Caucasian police officers.
The incident was videotaped and broadcasted all over television, outraging the citizens of Los Angeles. As Rainey stated, “the police officers were acquitted of all charges in court causing more anger and frustration for minorities causing a chain reaction of riots starting from April 29”.
“It was a very scary, unsettling, and chaotic time for everyone”, stated Rainey. “You really take for granted going about your daily life with people obeying laws.” Rainey states that after the Rodney King verdict people started protesting the Parker Center (police headquarters). Rainey recalls going to work one day and hearing windows being broken downstairs.
The first thing he did was report about it while others were either panicking or vacating the building. “I remember going to the hospital to see if I can interview some people and I saw about one hundred people running down the street being chased by the police,” stated Rainey.
Black and white communities were not the only races that were affected during this time. Many of the disturbances were concentrated in South Central Los Angeles, which was primarily composed of African American and Hispanic residents. Half of all riot arrestees and more than a third of those killed during the violence were Hispanic according to police reports.
Within the span of two days, the streets of Los Angeles were charred from fires, looting, and gunshots. Stores and small businesses owned by Korean and other Asian immigrants were widely targeted. A coffee shop owner during this time that I got to speak to, John Kim, states that he had to protect himself and his store without government help. Kim lost his business and had no insurance, resulting in a huge financial loss for him and his family. “It was tough. I lost everything. My business, my livelihood, the future for my family. It was hard to recover afterwards and look for other jobs”, stated Kim.
According to Kim, the majority of law enforcement was stationed in more affluent neighborhoods of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, disregarding the communities that needed the most help.
Los Angeles served as the home to many rifts and battles amongst people of different kinds. It is the central home to a world of differences that may seem chaotic to many outsiders. The clashing of cultures and chaos between minorities has been an ever-present theme in Los Angeles.
At the same time, different communities and races all merged in one city makes it easily accessible to experience and learn about other cultures. In just twenty minutes you can go into another cultural “town” and learn about their foods and heritage. Korea-town is a prime example of a minority community making a home for themselves in the city of Los Angeles.
Within years of tensions and hatred, LA has managed to rebuild itself as a lasting city with people of different backgrounds, races, and heritages making it a leading force of multiculturalism.