South L.A. Neighborhoods Still Feel Impact of 25-Year-Old Riots

Last month marked the 25-year anniversary of the Los Angeles riots. After four police offers were caught on tape beating an unarmed African American man and then acquitted in 1992, a huge uprising occurred that included mass arson, looting, and around $1 billion worth of damage to local businesses and neighborhoods. In addition, more than 60 people were killed, while hundreds sustained injuries.

TV stations constantly screened footage of the riots, which showed, among other horrors, area buildings going up in flames. Now, a few areas that were once right in the middle of those riots are experiencing a real estate boom.

Take the traditionally black neighborhood of Leimert Park, for example. Those riots in ’92 happened just a few blocks away from Liz Anderson’s palm-tree-filled property there. And while many families were scared off by the events and subsequently hightailed it out of their southern L.A. district, Anderson opted for another route.

More than 63% of American adults have moved to a new community at least once, but Anderson’s decision to stay put will pay off.

“I’m happy that I didn’t move out, because I bought my house for $57,000, and I can sell it now for probably close to $800,000,” said Anderson to Milwaukee Public Radio.

Unfortunately, most South L.A. neighborhoods haven’t seen that kind of economic recovery.

Job creation has seen a lot of setbacks in these communities, and the local poverty rate is around 33%, which is actually slightly higher than it was back in 1992.

But the idea of gentrification is not a welcome one for those who call these neighborhoods home. Many are concerned that low-income residents will be forced out due to rising costs. Others are resentful of the fact that Latino businesses are now occupying spaces once held by African American proprietors. While most agree there’s a lot of room for improvement, there’s a general skepticism as to how this would be accomplished.

And according to a poll conducted by Loyola Marymount University, the period of unrest is far from over. The Los Angeles Times reports that 60% of Los Angeles residents think another riot will likely occur in the next five years. This number represents a sharp increase for the first time in nearly two decades of decline.

Still, many people in the community are of the opinion that rioting won’t solve their problems. And since many of those living in areas like Leimert Park aren’t eager to move out, it’s unclear as to whether a change is going to come any time soon.

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