This weekend marks the 20th anniversy of the Los Angeles Riots, the uprising that exploded across the city after the officers accused of beating Rodney King were aquitted on all charges. Back then, tensions in the city had been buiding for years, as run-ins with the police were commonplace and racial tensions, especially following the slaying of Latasha Harlins by a Korean storeowner, were reaching a fevered pitch.
While many are spending this week in reflection about the events that led up to the riots, others are asking themselves if it could happen again.
Last summer, London errupted in days of looting and violence after police shot Mark Duggan during a traffic stop in Tottenham. Although many blamed the rioting on youth attempting to capitalize on a divisive event, others said it exposed discriminatory practices that left many working-class youth feeling marginalized.
Despite very real problems that continue to persist here in the U.S., when a friend of mine asked me whether or not I though another riot was possible, I wasn’t sure.
Times have changed, and unlike April 29, 1992, people now have an outlet for their frustrations. Social media has given many a platform to air out their grievances to the world in a way that doesn’t include violence. But if used incorrectly, it can also literally and figurative stoke the flames.
In the weeks leading up to George Zimmerman’s arrest for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, I felt our country was on the verge of race-based violence. The tension was mounting, racist rhetoric was ratcheting up, and people’s emotions were running high. But after Zimmerman’s arrest, things seemed to simmer down as the wheels of justice slowly began to turn. But if Zimmerman is never held accountable for killing Trayvon Martin, I wonder if that will spark the type of outrage that led many into the streets of Los Angeles 20 years ago.
But what do you think; 20 years after the L.A. riots, do you think it can happen again?