Los Angeles Riots 25 Years Later: Revisiting the Epicenter

In Racism On

Still, in the two and a half decades since the riots left more than 50 people dead, thousands injured and more than $1 billion in damage, much has changed in Los Angeles and in the neighborhood where the violence first exploded. (It was called South Central then, but city officials later rechristened it South Los Angeles in an attempt to repair its image.) The Los Angeles Police Department is widely regarded as a reformed force, after many community demands for more oversight were made and a consent decree was reached with the federal Department of Justice. Crime has gone down throughout the city and race relations have significantly improved.

And yet most residents think the kind of unrest that tore the city apart is quite likely to happen again in the next five years, according to a poll released this week by the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University. Researchers have conducted the poll every five years since 1992, and until this year, the percentage of respondents who said they believed another riot was likely went down in every survey. Now, 58 percent say it is more likely.

“We’re just one more little slap in the face away from another one,” said Nathan Smith, 53, bringing his index finger a thimble’s-breadth away from his thumb. A couple of men within earshot at M’Dears, a diner just north of Florence and Normandie, nodded their heads in agreement.

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