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

Racial Tension of L.A. Riots

Close to 20 years after the L.A. Riots, locals are urging one another to overcome racial tension and come together.

Local residents are remembering the L.A. Riots and reflecting on the racial tensions the riots left behind.

Residents reflect on the racial tension that increased because of the L.A. riots. (File Photo)
Residents reflect on the racial tension that increased because of the L.A. riots. (File Photo)

"Twenty years ago we were coming out of racial segregation and moving to racial discrimination," said Rev. Cecil Murray.

"It really in many ways shattered the American dream for a population that was just struggling to attain it," said resident Ruth Chung.

"We're just ingredients that made a bad situation highly combustible," said former activist Juan Gutierrez.

Gutierrez says misconceptions are what caused the tension among the Latinos and other communities.

"You've been hearing it for decades," said Gutierrez. "If you don't have a job it's because an illegal came from Mexico and took your job away. People exploit those kinds of situations to nurture animosity between communities that are almost in as bad shape and in need."

Chung says Korean Americans rebelled because they were left with nothing but to fend for themselves.

"The Public agencies whose motto's was and still it to protect and to serve was no where to be found," said Chung. "And that in many ways they had to take it upon themselves in this vigilante way with their own shotguns."

While many are still healing from the wounds twenty years ago, some say there is hope for improvement.

"We are getting too old for this," said Rev. Murray. "Let's make a difference."

"We can come together and see each other beyond the barriers of race or class," said Chung.


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