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The L.A. Riots: What Difference Does 20 Years Make?

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As the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots approaches, a new survey finds that Angelenos feel that race relations in their city have improved – but pretty much everything else has gotten worse.

The survey, which has been conducted by Loyola Marymount University’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles every five years since the riots broke out on April 29, 1992, gathered opinions from 1,600 Angelenos, equally distributed among whites, blacks, Latinos, and Koreans. The good news is that a resounding 69 percent agree that some or a lot of progress has been made toward improving race relations since the day a jury acquitted three white and one Latino police officers accused in the videotaped beating of a black motorist and sparked one of the most destructive and lethal outbreaks of urban unrest in American history.

Almost as many say that racial and ethnic groups are getting along somewhat or very well these days – double the percentage who thought so in 1997.

The bad news is that a plurality of the survey’s respondents also think that public education, transportation, jobs, street quality, air quality, housing costs and health care quality have gotten worse since 1992. Guess maybe we can all get along, the way Rodney King wanted us to. Now if only we could fix our schools, buses, hospitals, economy…