Twenty years since the riots in Los AngelesApril 30, 2012 @ 8:10 am (Updated: 8:35 am - 4/30/12 )
This April 29, 1992 file photo shows several buildings in a Boys Market shopping center fully engulfed in flames before firefighters can arrive as rioting erupted in South-Central Los Angeles. Before order was restored, 55 people were dead, 2,300 injured and more than 1,500 buildings were damaged or destroyed. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
It's been twenty years since the riots in Los Angeles set off by the Rodney King verdict. But it wasn't just about that:
"They do have quite a few blacks around here that refuse to let go of the Latasha Harlins situation."
People were also angry about Latasha Harlins, a black teenager, who had gone into a liquor store, and put a bottle of orange juice into her backpack. The shopkeeper -- a Korean-American woman, thought she was shoplifting, there was a fight; the woman pulls out a pistol; shoots the girl dead. She died with the two dollars for the orange juice in her hand.
The shopkeeper gave basically a stand-your-ground defense and got probation. And that's why rioters targeted so many Korean businesses.
And as I walked those neighborhoods 20 years ago I found debates between Korean-Americans and African-Americans -- over who was more misunderstood, and who works harder.
"We don't depend on welfare, we make it on our own," said one Korean woman. "People come here and say, 'Well you get it from loans and stuff.' You're not Korean, you don't know what's going on."
And who uses stereotypes:
"I think black people as a whole have worked very hard. We built this country and I get so sick and tired of the Japanese and the people saying that we are lazy."
That's from 20 years ago, and as I listened to it again, it sounded like the Trayvon Martin e-mails I've been getting.
We still choose up sides based on race. At least this time the debate isn't taking place in the middle of a burned-out neighborhood.
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