Resident Reflections: South L.A. Since the Civil Unrest

16 Feb Resident Reflections: South L.A. Since the Civil Unrest

“I remember there were so many liquor stores before the riot. There were more liquor stores in South L.A. than there were libraries. There was a liquor store on almost every corner and there were so many that they were nuisances because you had people loitering and hanging out and there were the drugs and activity that go with them.  A positive thing [that changed] was that a lot of liquor stores closed up, burned down or went out of business. We didn’t need all those liquor stores.”
-Vincent Cooksey, 47, South Los Angeles resident, chauffer and student

“I was in Mexico with my family when the civil unrest occurred. When we returned from vacation, I was so surprised to see my community so changed. It was the pressure of not having enough, of lacking basic necessities. Both African Americans and Latinos lived tensely and we didn’t have a way to take out our frustration of living here. We always got the worst in South L.A. and were treated the worst. That’s why it’s important for African Americans and Latinos to fight – but not with each other. We need to fight for what we need in our community. We have the same problems, the same poverty. We have much in common.”
-Felicitas Rodriguez, 49, South L.A. resident, housekeeper

“The minute when the military took over the streets in 1992 and [they] were walking around with shotguns, [I realized] we can lose every right we have. The one positive thing that came out of the civil unrest was that it raised the voice of young people to find other means to make a change, whether it’s joining law enforcement to change it from within or becoming a social delivery worker or starting your own business or non-profit. I now see a bigger push by the Los Angeles police to be more community-centered. I see more services in the community – more agencies offering more services for longer periods of time.”
-Tony Zepeda, 35, graduate of Jefferson High School, director of operations at Soledad Enrichment Project

“We have come a long way since the civil unrest. People are more conscious of the problems we face and where they come from. There was a promise made to South L.A. but it was a promise not kept. We still have empty lots, and quality businesses and restaurants found in West L.A. still refuse to come to our community. That’s why education is so important. Our youth need to go to college because they experience new things and realize that they don’t have to follow the path that’s been laid out for our youth in this community.”
-Lilian Marenco, 65, South L.A. resident, cook

“The 1992 civil unrest had a lot of impact on community organizing – in particular organizations like Community Coalition took root. It was the beginning of several collaboratives in the community and has since then had a lot of impact on South L.A. They groomed leaders and that had been unprecedented up until that time.”
-Nathaniel Ali, 62, South L.A. community activist and resident, retired 

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