Wednesday, April 29, 2009

17 Years



Have 17 years already gone by since the LA Riots? I came across this post on Angry Asian Man today and for a few minutes I really was in disbelief that time had gone by so quickly.

My memories of the LA Riots are a collection of sound bites and images flashed on the news this day, 17 years ago. I remember catching a sense of panic through my mother, who was worried about my father's wellbeing. At the time we owned a small hole-in-the-wall Thai/Chinese restaurant in downtown across from the Braille Institute and LACC. He was working that day, just like every day that we owned that failed investment, and quickly closed shop throughout the duration of the riots. People ran rampant through the streets, looting stores and causing violent outbreaks.

The catalyst for the riots was the acquittal of four police officers involved in the Rodney King trial. If you remember, this had to do with a high speed chase of Mr. King that ended in a brutal beating by LAPD officers. As a 9 year old, I barely understood the meaning of what had occurred and why people were reacting the way they were. As a child, all I understood was that the scary situation and chaos of the riots had signaled the beginning of the end of Jin Restauraunt. Later that year my parents decided to sell the restaurant because the area had become "too dangerous" and sales had gone down dramatically. Catering to college students was also difficult since they didn't have much money to spend on eating out and vacation time was bad for business. Gone were the lazy days of summer where I would sit in the corner booth all day playing gameboy with the waiter and eating rice noodles with brown sauce while downing thai teas.

Luckily that's not the only thing I associate with the LA riots. 17 years later, I have a better understanding of the complexity of race relations. I understand the severity of the event that had occurred and how it out leashed a great amount of tension felt in the communities of LA. I'm not going to say that we've come very far (ahem, May Day Rally)... Let's just say it's still a work in progress. Today we take the time to remember that day in hopes that it will not repeat in the future. And let's eat some korean tacos while we're at it.

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