CP 20th Century
17 April, 2017
The 1992 LA riots
April 29th, 1992 was the beginning of the chaos and destruction among the African American citizens of Los Angeles. Many people believed some major causes of the LA riots of 1992 were the beating of Rodney King and the assassination of Latasha Harlins. The LA riots of 1992 increased hatred and racism between African Americans and whites and increased racial tension throughout the United States.
The beating of Rodney King took place on March 3rd, 1991 in the streets of Los Angeles. King, who was intoxicated, had been caught speeding and initially tried to evade the police. When he finally pulled over and exited his car, multiple LAPD units and a helicopter were pursuing him. When Rodney King finally stepped out of his car, ready to be arrested without resisting the officers, they continued tazing, kicking, and hitting him with their batons. Shown on the recording, the officers beat King with the baton 53 times leaving him with severe bruises, a broken leg, and a scar from the stun gun. He also received 11 skull fractures, brain damage, and kidney damage. Later that night, King was finally released from jail. Many people believed that this was the main cause of the Los Angeles riots but before this incident, there was already tension between whites and people of color. This incident made many of the African-American people of the greater Los Angeles area realize they needed to stand up for their race and unify.
The murder of Latasha Harlins took place on March 16th, 1991 in Los Angeles, California. Latasha Harlins was a 15 year old African American girl who was shot in the head by Soon Da Ju, a 51 year old female store owner from South Korea. Du's store, Empire Liquor, located in South Los Angeles, was normally staffed by Du's husband and son. However, on the morning of the shooting, Du was working behind the counter, and her husband was outside resting in the family's van. Soon Ja Du detected Harlins sneaking an unpaid bottle of orange juice into her backpack. Du then attempted to snatch Harlins backpack and Harlins punched Du 3 times, knocking her on the ground. Harlins decided to leave the store but Du took the handgun out of the bottom of the counter and shot Harlins in the back of the head, which resulted in instant death. It was assumed that the store owner, Soon Da Ju, would be found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, an offense that carries a maximum prison sentence of 16 years. The jury recommended the maximum sentence for Du. However, the trial judge, Joyce Karlin, didn't accept the jury's sentencing recommendation and instead sentenced Du to five years of probation, 400 hours of community service, and a $500 fine. Many citizens of Los Angeles became violent after being notified of the verdict. This caused much anger and chaos among the black community because they felt like Du should’ve been imprisoned instead of community service and a small fine.