Multiethnic groups unite for the 1992 riots' 25th anniversary

LOS ANGELES--Minorities should work together to uplift the most vulnerable of their number--African Americans--according to some speakers at a multiethnic event on Saturday that marked the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. 

That was one message of the event, "4.29/Sa-i-gu Remix," held April 22, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Holman(cq) United Methodist Church in West Adams. Leaders of Koreatown and South L.A. community organizations launched a broadsided attack on the status quo in an event that had a decidedly progressive, if not radical, flavor. 

Words like "revolution" occasionally punctuated the air as community organizers took aim against conservative societal forces, which activists said had propagated racism and capitalism. Racism and capitalism were the causes of the 1992 civil unrest, some speakers said.

"I challenge all of you to make a commitment, today, to make things better," said Do Kim, president of the K.W. Lee Center for Leadership, which spearheaded Saturday's commemoration, in his opening remarks. 

The riots broke out on April 29, 1992, after four Los Angeles Police Department officers were acquitted of the charge of excessive force in the arrest and beating of motorist Rodney King. In the Korean language, sa-i-gu means 4/29. 

Fifty-five people died in the uprising and property damage topped $1 billion. Kim said that he believed the event was the first commemoration of the L.A. riots to bring together African Americans and Korean Americans.

In the years preceding the riots, tensions mounted between the Korean and black communities--locally and nationally--as conflicts between Korean merchants and African-American community-residents turned deadly.

But at Saturday's conference--which featured speakers, panels and musical performances--smiles abounded among the approximately 100 participants, who included Koreans, blacks, Latinos, non-Korean Asians and whites. 

The four organizations that coordinated the event were the K.W. Lee Center, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Community Coalition, and Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at UC-Riverside. Eight other community organizations from Koreatown and South Los Angeles were also partner organizations. 

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Posted on 04/24/2017 - 11:15am