Thirty years ago today, on April 29, 1992, four white LAPD officers were acquitted despite their severe beating of Rodney King. This decision unleashed deep anguish, pain and anger as the attack was captured on video and forever changed our communities.
As I reflect on the events of 1992, it is against the backdrop of another beating resulting in the murder of George Floyd two years ago. These are not isolated incidents. Police brutality is a symptom of a larger set of racist systems that dehumanize Black and Brown people. Lack of green space, food deserts (not enough fresh food but plenty of fast food), insufficient access to quality health care or mental health services, poor public transportation options, not enough living-wage jobs, racial profiling… the list goes on and on.
Yet something amazing came out of 1992 that brings me joy. The young people who lived through this searing experience are leading in powerful ways today. Between 1992 and 2002, new community organizations were founded based on principles of true resident engagement and power building – by the people, for the people. They stood together, organized together and supported each other. They did not allow themselves to be divided and conquered by status quo leadership. As a result Los Angeles became a beacon of progressive action for the rest of the nation and continues to lead the way.
On this day, I grieve what was lost but take comfort in the bold leadership of those young people and in the ways that they are mentoring young leaders today.
To our partners and friends on the frontlines of the fight for racial equity and justice, I hope you can take care of yourselves today. Community Partners stands with you and is proud to support your work.
Alicia Gutierrez Lara, MPH
President and CEO