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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
L.A. Riots: 20 Years Later

LA Activists, Business Owners Reflect on Community Police Presence

The buildings may be rebuilt, but activists say this city still faces incidents of police brutality and racism.

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King riots, activists gathered Thursday to discuss police brutality and discrimination that still occurs in Los Angeles.

Shepherd Petit, a Los Angeles resident, recalled his firsthand experience of the riots. "I couldn't believe it.  I'm seeing buildings burned down.  And the building I lived in.  I'm like oh, I hope they don't burn the building I live in down.  Then I won't have a place to live," Petit said.

Civil Rights lawyer Connie Rice believes police relations have improved since the riots, but she still hopes to see more change. "We have a long way to go to change the DNA of the police force. But we are well on our way to changing the direction of the police," Rice said.

"I trust the police, and then again, I don't trust the police, because I have been harassed.  I've had a gun drawn at me and hand cuffed in my wheelchair," Petit said.

Petit says civil unrest like the 1992 riots are necessary to encourage change.  "Any uprising, it brings about a transformation.  It brings change, and it sends a message to those leaders who should be held accountable," Petit said.


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