Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 Questions and Answers
by Anna Deavere Smith

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What led up to the 1992 Los Angeles riots? information about the rodney king incident, including the officers involved and the verdict as well as information about latasha harlins

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On one level, the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 seemed to be an immediate response to institutional unfairness.  On another level, however, they served as a warning sign that America had to address and redress institutional inequality that had been neglected for quite a while.  The Rodney King case was a case when four police officers stopped a motorist who was under the influence of drugs and "suspicious behavior."  The officers felt that Mr. King had constituted an immediate and clear threat to their safety when asked to step outside of his vehicle, and they subdued him with extreme physical force.  The incident was caught on videotape from an amateur cameraperson and was played repeatedly on major news networks.  The lawyers for the four police officers claimed that their clients could not receive a fair trial in Los Angeles because of the inherent bias caused by the media's treatment of the videotape.  The trial was moved from the urban Los Angeles to the predominantly Caucasian community of Simi Valley, where the officers were found not guilty of assault and excessive force.  The verdict was perceived as an immediate "miscarriage of justice" and the immediate response was riots and unrest in the streets of Los Angeles.  The burning of Los Angeles proved to highilght a great deal of institutional unfairness and neglect within the urban setting in both the city and all over the nation.  Republican policies that paid less attention to these areas became severely examined, indicating that some type of policy change and institutional change is needed.

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