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Remembering the South L.A. Riots

Melody Fuentes, Staff Writer

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Thousands of voices were heard chanting throughout the streets of L.A. on April 29 to remember the South L.A. riots that took place 25 years ago.

The five-day long riot resulted in approximately 50 deaths, 2,000 injuries, and about $1 billion in damages.

History teacher Deborah Robbins described how racial tensions felt during the riots.

“Everyone was on edge and fearful the violence might spread. I remember it being scary. You could see smoke in the air,” Robbins recounted. “Today, there are too often exceptions so we still have a lot of difficulty nationally, but at the same time, most police are really trying to do their best in their communities.”

According to Kathy Choi, a freshman, although racial tensions have appeared to get better in South L.A., there are still problems with police brutality nationally with people of color. It’s not uncommon to hear in the media about a police officer using unnecessary excessive violence, such as how officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Philando Castile, a 32-year-old African-American, while he was in his car in Minnesota on July 6, 2016.

When Yanez saw Castile, he thought Castile looked like the suspect of an armed robbery that happened days before, so he pulled Castile over. Castile told the officer that he did have a legally owned gun in his possession and went to reach for his wallet for his license and gun permit. The officer reported that he feared for his life because he believed Castile was reaching for his gun. As a result, Yanez shot Castile and was later charged with second degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.

Because of incidents like these, many individuals, people of color especially, do not feel comfortable around police officers.

Vincent Bowden, the campus police officer, agreed that there are some things we could do to lower strains between the police and the community.

“It’s better if people, who have an interest in the community, take part in the process of law enforcement and governing the community,” Bowden said. “Young people have to be involved because you’ll be the next generation of police and community members and governors.”

Choi said that the riots were a result of a justice system that is biased against people of color but hopes that history will not repeat itself.

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The student news site of University High in Los Angeles, California
Remembering the South L.A. Riots