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Panelists Revisit L.A. Riots

By Paul M. Golaszewski

Concerned that the significance of the most destructive riots in a decade would be lost to the passage of time, several campus groups sponsored a panel discussion last night on the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

The discussion, titled "The L.A. Riots: Five Years After," focused on the economic, political and racial motivations behind the riots and the implications they hold for America today.

"That type of social flare-up reflects the underlying tensions which still exist even in the most civil situations and which need to be addressed," said Jeannie A. Lang '00, a member of the Institute of Politics (IOP), one of 11 groups sponsoring the event.

The Los Angeles riots erupted on April 29, 1992, when the news broke that a jury had acquitted several white police officers of beating African-American motorist Rodney King. Three days of rioting ensued, resulting in 58 deaths and nearly $1 billion in property damage.

Panelist Bong Hwam Kim, an activist and member of the L.A. Black-Korean Alliance, noted that Korean Americans sustained 40 percent of the damage, although they comprise only 2 percent of the city's population.

"The majority of Korean Americans view it as a riot, not a political statement," Ham said. "There was deliberate targeting of Korean-American stores."

But the panel refrained from providing a definitive answer for why the riots occurred.

"There's a complexity to what happened in 1992 that cannot be explained in one word," said Assistant Professor of Government Michael Jones-Correa.

"Every ethnic group was involved, either as an actor, a victim or a target," he continued.

"We're not here to give an authoritative answer," said moderator Veronica S. Jung '97, a member of Korean Americans for Culture and Community.

"We're here tonight to raise awareness about the riots and their aftermath and to bring students and Harvard community together to discuss where we go from here."

Other panelists included John Lie, associate professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-

Champaign, and Patrick Joyce, a graduate student in Harvard's government department.

The discussion, part of the IOP's Pizza and Politics series, was also sponsored by the Asian American Association, Black Men's Forum, Black Students Association, Diversity and Distinction, Education for Action, Korean Students Association, La Raza, Latinas Unidas, the Minority Students Association and Yisei

Champaign, and Patrick Joyce, a graduate student in Harvard's government department.

The discussion, part of the IOP's Pizza and Politics series, was also sponsored by the Asian American Association, Black Men's Forum, Black Students Association, Diversity and Distinction, Education for Action, Korean Students Association, La Raza, Latinas Unidas, the Minority Students Association and Yisei

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