Reflections on the 25th anniversary of the L.A. Riots.
On her best days, Congresswoman Maxine Waters is just a hypocrite. On a normal day, she is a national disgrace. Maxine Waters didn’t hesitate to call the Trump administration “a bunch of scumbags.”
While Congresswoman Maxine Waters can condemn the Trump administration, falsely accuse the CIA of bringing drugs into Los Angeles, and even tell the Tea Party to go “straight to hell,” she refused to condemn the scumbags who killed 55 people and injured 2,000 people during the 1992 L.A. Riots.
Congresswoman Waters at the time said, “If you call it a riot, it sounds like it was just a bunch of crazy people who went out and did bad things for no reason. I maintain it was somewhat understandable, if not acceptable. So I call it a rebellion.”
While she asserts that she didn’t officially condone the violence, she made a conscious effort not to condemn these murderers. Congresswoman Waters told the New York Times shortly after the riots, “What I didn’t do is use the airwaves to call people hoodlums and thugs for burning down their own communities. It only makes them madder when you call them hoodlums and thugs, as the President did.”
As this month marks the 25th anniversary of the 1992 L.A. Riots (April 29 to May 4, 1992), there are still many unanswered questions. Could the police have done more to prevent the riots? What caused them in the first place? Historians believe that a combination of three factors were the catalyst: the Rodney King verdict, the murder of Latasha Harlins, and economic resentment.
The most important factor was the not guilty verdict of the four police officers who beat Rodney King. As the soon as the verdict was announced, the riots began. This does not explain, nor justify, why the Korean-American community was disproportionately targeted.
Korean-Americans refer to these riots as Sa-I-Gu (translated as four-two-nine). As Americans refer to 9/11 as the attacks on New York, Korean-Americans refer to 4/29 as the beginning of six days of murder and arson in Los Angeles.
As early as 1990, there were pickets organized by the Organization of Mutual Neighborhood Interest (OMNI). They accused Korean-American entrepreneurs of being rude to black customers and they regarded Korean-Americans stores as benefiting from African-American neighborhoods without giving anything in return to the community.
This relationship got worse in March 1991 when a Korean-American store-keeper, Soon Ja Du, was punched in the face by 15-year-old African American named Latasha Harlins. There was a dispute about whether she was going to pay for orange juice. As Latasha was walking away from her, Soon Ja Du took out a gun and shot her in the back of the head. She died instantly.
Again this explains the anger toward Soon Ja Du and her store, but it does not that explain why 600 other Korean-owned retailers were destroyed in South Central and another 200 businesses in Koreatown.
The third reason for the riots is the economic conditions of African-Americans in Los Angeles. One reason why Korean-Americans established stores in South Central is that other merchants had fled following the 1965 Watts riots.
Frustration with the lack of economic growth these past 15 years is in part what allowed Donald Trump to defeat both the Republican establishment in the primary and the Democratic establishment in the general election.
If you compare the exit polls of 2012 and 2016, Donald Trump in 2016 did better than Mitt Romney with blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. Donald Trump received 8 percent of the black vote while Romney only got 6 percent. Donald Trump got 29 percent of both the Hispanic and Asian vote. Romney got 27 percent of Hispanics and 26 percent of Asians.
Despite the media bias against him, Trump won because most people needed change. Trump argued that Hillary and the Democrats only look to minority voters during elections. Trump asked many Democrats during the campaign, “What do you have to lose?”
In the 25 years since the L.A. Riots, what has Maxine Waters done to improve race relations in Los Angeles? What has she done to improve economic growth? She can criticize Trump’s comments all she wants, but what about her own? When will she apologize to the Korean-American community for not doing more to help them during a tragic time?
There are politicians, like Maxine Waters, who profit from partisan divisions and the rest of the country that suffers from gridlock. Healing the divisions in our country will require more economic growth as well as leaders who are very different from Maxine Waters.