LOS ANGELES, April 29 (UPI) -- Today marks exactly 10 years since riots broke out in Los Angeles, constituting some of the 20th century's worst U.S. urban violence.
Fifty-four people died in three days of looting that caused some $1 billion in damage. The governor at the time, Pete Wilson, announced a state of emergency in Los Angeles.
The riots broke out after a predominantly white jury acquitted four white police officers who had been accused of beating an African-American motorist, Rodney G. King.
A Los Angeles Times poll, reported in Monday's Los Angeles Times, says city residents have grown more upbeat about the City of Angels.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they feel that Angelenos have made some progress toward getting along with one another. King, during the rioting, had asked the now-well-known question: "Can we all get along?"
Six photographs in Sunday's New York Times Magazine show the contrast between the Los Angeles of 1992 and 2002 -- all were taken by photographer Ted Soqui.
He told The New York Times Magazine that he took the original set of images using a camera concealed in a paper bag, with a hole cutout for the lens. The new set of images were taken with the same camera.
A photograph at Sunset Boulevard and La Brea Avenue in Hollywood 10 years ago shows two armed officers standing in front of a store with boarded-up windows. Scrawled in big letters on the boards is: "Sorry, we're empty."
In 2002, the site is the home of a discount retailer.
At Western Avenue and Sixth Street in Koreatown in 1992, a building lies in shambles. In 2002, a busy strip mall occupies the site.
The third scene, South Vermont and Manchester avenues in south-central Los Angeles, showed a burned-out building in 1992. In 2002, there is empty land where the burned-out building had stood.
Over the weekend, several community groups in Los Angeles marked the 10th anniversary of the LA riots.
A multiracial group held a candlelight vigil and march Saturday at First AME Church, calling for unity, love and healing, according to Monday's Los Angeles Times.
"Feeling the pinch of a depressed economy and the insulting slap of discrimination, the (LAPD officers' 1992) trial's outcome pushed residents past their boiling point," said First AME Church's analysis of the riots and their causes.
"Torching neighborhoods, looting businesses and assaulting passersby, the community found solace in a senseless bout of self-destruction," the Los Angeles Times quoted the church's analysis as saying.
Many of the victims of the riots were Korean-Americans. Some 2,200 Korean-owned businesses incurred about $400 million in damage by the rioters, who were predominantly African-American. These figures were reported by the Los Angeles Times in its Monday edition.
Many of Los Angeles' Korean-Americans moved to neighboring Orange County.
Those who stayed and rebuilt their businesses have tried to improve their relationship with the African-American community by hiring African-American workers, by contributing to scholarships for African-American students and other similar efforts at generating goodwill.
Among the Korean-American community, April 29, 1992, is known as "sa-i-gu," the Korean words for 4-2-9, and it was for many, a wake-up call.
"As we approach this important milestone, we have a rare opportunity to take stock of where we've been and where we're going," said an e-mail letter from David S. Kim, president of the Washington chapter of the Korean American Coalition, sent to KAC-DC members and others.
"Are we as powerless today as in 1992?" he asked.
KAC-DC and the Smithsonian Institution sponsored a seminar on Monday night in Washington to reflect upon the LA riots and its implications for the Korean-American community.
An audience of some 100 people, predominantly Asian-American, heard from K.W. Lee, a veteran Korean-American investigative journalist from Northern California; Hyungwon Kang, a photojournalist now based in Washington, who had covered the riots for the Los Angeles Times; and James Early of the Smithsonian, who happened to be in LA at the time of the riots because he was representing the Smithsonian at the opening of the Japanese American National Museum there.
(Reported by Carolyn Ayon Lee in Washington)