Photography by David Longstreath of the Associated Press Rodney King speaks during a May 1, 1992 news conference in Los Angeles pleading for the end to the rioting and looting in the city. Associated Press.

Equal Voice

South LA Examines the Rodney King Uprising – and the Future

April 28, 2017

Paul Nyhan
By Paul Nyhan
Manager of Storytelling

On the quarter-century anniversary of the Rodney King Uprising, grassroots community organizations and leaders are marking the uprising by exploring what created and fueled it with a powerful collection of art, installations, gatherings and discussions.

Twenty-five years ago, on April 29, 1992, South Los Angeles exploded.

After four Los Angeles police officers were acquitted of charges in the beating of Black motorist Rodney King, the city erupted in one of the most dramatic uprisings in modern U.S. history, one that swept through its south neighborhoods for days.

It was sparked a year after a video surfaced of the officers hitting and kicking Rodney King during a traffic stop on March 3, 1991. Before videos went viral, the recording still spread quickly around the world.

Then, tensions heightened in the wake of the shooting death of Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old Black girl, by a Korean grocer during a dispute.

The grocer was convicted of manslaughter but sentenced to probation and community service.

After the four police officers were acquitted, residents of South LA took to the streets in protests and riots.

On the quarter-century anniversary, grassroots community organizations and leaders are marking the uprising by exploring what created and fueled it with a powerful collection of art, installations, gatherings and discussions.

They’re focusing on decades of police brutality, criminalization, neglect, powerlessness, investments in neighborhoods and grassroots community building efforts, according to Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE), which works on economic justice issues in Los Angeles.

The anniversary events, which started this month, will culminate in a march, rally and gathering April 29 that will begin on the corner of Florence and Normandie, an intersection of two avenues in South LA that became famous as the center of the uprising.

“Out of the ashes of what came to be known as the L.A. Uprising, rose a new cadre of multi-racial grassroots organizations committed to amplifying the perspectives and experiences of South L.A. residents and transforming the institutions that had left South L.A. communities behind,” SCOPE said in a statement.

The anniversary art, talk and march are part of a deeper grassroots effort to understand what happened and all of the work that remains. The Re-Imagine Justice exhibit is a collection of art and educational exhibits that reflects on the past, present, and future of South LA and its community members, according to Community Coalition, a grassroots organization that does community work in South LA.


Paul Nyhan is the senior writer for Equal Voice News, which is published by Marguerite Casey Foundation. This report includes information from The Associated Press.

2017 © Equal Voice for America’s Families Newspaper

South LA Examines the Rodney King Uprising – and the Future

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