1992 LA Riots

How LA Is Marking 30 Years Since the 1992 Rodney King Verdict

Thirty years ago, a jury's acquittal of four LAPD officers on trial for the beating of Rodney King led to days of violence, looting and fires.

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Family members of Rodney King and Latasha Harlins will join community leaders Friday to mark 30 years since the Rodney King verdict and the violence that followed.

They plan to urge unity during the gathering at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Florence and Normandie avenues, the epicenter of the unrest that stemmed from a jury's acquittal of the four LAPD officers on trial in the videotaped beating of King during a traffic stop in the San Fernando Valley.

The jury's decision led to six days of rioting, looting and fires, much of it in South Los Angeles and Koreatown. More than 60 people died, thousands were injured and millions of dollars worth of property was damaged.

Here's who will be at Friday's event.

  • Rodney King's daughter, Lora
  • Family members of Latasha Harlins, a teen who was fatally shot in 1991 by a Korean-born shopkeeper who owned a South Los Angeles liquor store.
  • LAPD South Bureau Deputy Chief Gerald Woodyard
  • Activist and CEO of Faith and Community Empowerment (FACE) Hyepin Im
  • Activist and director of Project Islamic Hope Najee Ali
  • Operation HOPE Founder and CEO John Hope Bryant
Video documents what happened in the days that followed the Rodney King beating trial verdict.

Operation HOPE, a major financial empowerment nonprofit that was founded by Bryant immediately after the riots, will also provide a community bus tour on Friday, departing the First African Methodist Episcopal Church at 9 a.m., as part of the anniversary.

"My late father, Rodney King, became synonymous with police brutality to some people. But our family remembers him as a human being -- not a symbol," said Lora King, CEO of the Rodney King Foundation. "He never advocated for hatred or violence and pleaded for peace as the city burned by asking, 'Can we all get along?' That's my father's legacy and what the King Foundation is about, unity. And bringing people together."

Connie Chung Joe, CEO of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, told City News Service that the anniversary of the riots is "a reminder of how racial injustice and anti-Blackness, particularly within our criminal justice and law enforcement systems, has persisted for decades in this country.''

Photos: Scenes From the 1992 LA Riots

She added that during the COVID-19 pandemic, two movements have achieved national prominence -- Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate. And she noted that ``it's a good moment to think about what Black and Asian racial solidarity truly looks like.''

"This anniversary is an opportunity to move beyond the pitting of communities against one another and seek a pathway towards true interracial solidarity building,'' she said.

Eunice Song, executive director of the Korean American Coalition, said in a statement to City News Service that she views the 1992 riots as the moment when Korean people living in Los Angeles had their identity ``reborn as Korean Americans.''

"They began communicating with their communities and formed community organizations to bridge cultural gaps and advocate for themselves out of necessity,'' she said, adding that the Korean community ``transformed itself from insular observers to active political stakeholders within Koreatown today.''

Garcetti said Thursday that 1992 was ``both a trauma and a turning point for our city -- a moment of pain and destruction from which we emerged stronger and more resilient.''

"In the last three decades we have made progress to build a city where resources, opportunity and hope are available for all. On this 30th anniversary, let's remember the lessons from 1992 to forge a better and more prosperous Los Angeles for everyone who calls this city home,'' he added.

Councilmember Herb Wesson on Friday will give opening remarks for a virtual screening of the 1994 documentary ``The Fire This Time,'' which chronicles Los Angeles leading up to and during the riots. The screening is organized by the Los Angeles Public Library and will begin at 12:45 p.m., followed by a panel discussion at 3:15 p.m. People may RSVP here.

Also Friday, at 4 p.m., community leaders will come together in Koreatown for an event to mark the 30th anniversary. The event is hosted by Chung Joe and Song, along with James An of the Korean American Federation of Los Angeles, the Koreatown Youth and Community Center's Steve Kang, the Los Angeles Urban League's Michael Lawson and the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles' Rev. ``J'' Edgar Boyd.

The free, outdoor event at Liberty Park, 3700 Wilshire Blvd., is aimed at bringing together Angelenos, along with Black and Asian musicians, cultural performers and spiritual leaders to assist in healing and reflection.

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