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1992 Los Angeles Race Riots Essay

2449 words - 10 pages

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The 1992 Los Angeles Race Riots

Context

One of the most troublesome facts about United States history is the inability of different races and ethnicities to get along with one another. The unfortunate outcome of the tensions between different races and ethnicities has been violence, which has often manifested itself in the form of riots. The earliest record race riot in American history is the Hardscrabble Riots of 1824, which took place in Providence, Rhode Island. The Hardscrabble Riots pitted the African American community against the white working class community, resulting in the destruction of nearly twenty buildings ("Hardscrabble"). Since 1824 nearly a hundred race riots have taken place in the United States. Of these riots the most destructive was the Los Angeles Race Riot of 1992. The Riot was the deadliest race riot in the United States since the Civil War and resulted in 53 dead, 2,383 injured, 12,000 arrested, 7,000 fires, and 3,100 businesses damaged or destroyed (Rego). The Los Angeles Race Riots of 1992 led to reform in law enforcement, an outgrowth of urban development programs, and called for a change America's perspective of the African American community not only in the city of Los Angeles but throughout the nation as well.

A car, pursued by several police cruisers and a helicopter, raced down Interstate 210 near Los Angeles early in the morning of March 3rd, 1991. The cars reached speeds over 115 miles per hour and soon moved from the highway to residential streets. Unable to shake the police, the car being pursued pulled off to the side of the road around 12:45 am ("Official Negligence" 25). This car contained three men. The two passengers riding in the car quickly surrender and were quickly cuffed and placed in the back a police cruiser. The commotion of these men were being arrested woke George Holliday, a man in a nearby apartment. Holliday had just bought a new Sony Camcorder to videotape a friend who was going to be running in the Los Angeles marathon. When he first looked outside Holliday saw a man with his hands on the roof of a car, this man was Rodney King. Holliday decided we would test out his new camcorder, and when he returned to his balcony to begin aping a scuffle had broken out between King and the officers ("Official Negligence" 21). About a couple days later Holliday tried to contact the local police department about what he had taped, whoever he spoke to on the phone seemed uninterested. Holliday ended up providing the video to a local television station, which played some of the footage on the air. The response to the video led to CNN picking up the video, and by March 5th the beating of Rodney King had become a symbol of police brutality and was receiving more national attention than the Persian-Gulf war which had concluded a week earlier ("Official Negligence" 23). The public outcry led to the...

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