Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rebuilding After the Riots

My heart is literally grieved as I watch events unfold in Ferguson MO. I have an all too familiar sick feeling in the pit of my stomach – because the images on TV bring back memories of the Los Angeles Riots; which I personally experienced in 1992.

 Looter running past building that was burned by rioters - LA Riots, April 1992

The LA Riots broke out when the mostly white officers (and at least one black officer) were videotaped beating Rodney King, a Black-American man, following a high-speed police pursuit. As a citizen living in Southern California, and working in and around downtown Los Angeles as an employee for the Los Angeles Times; these events had a profound and deeply troubling effect on me.

The differences in the two events are clear. The evidence in the Rodney King case clearly showed that the police went too far in their continual beating of King after he was subdued and on the ground. I, along with many of my friends and family, were deeply disturbed when the police officers in the Rodney King Beating Case were acquitted. The physical and forensic evidence in the Rodney King case left many of us, myself included, feeling that justice was not served. The apparent evidence in the Ferguson event, does support a case that officer Wilson had to defend himself, and was legally permitted to do so.

The heartbreaking and mind boggling facts, is that anyone would use either of these cases to incite riots – to loot, burn and destroy their own communities.

Rebuilding Ferguson? Los Angeles is a Good Historical Indicator.

Despite the fact that it was anger toward whites and the police that erupted in Los Angeles in 1992, it was primarily Korean owned local business that were destroyed, along with various national chains and locally owned franchise businesses. Twenty-plus years later; the neighborhood has simply never recovered, and the local residents remain under-served by the local businesses, and schools they need.

Korean Business Owner Protecting His Business from Rioters - LA, April 1992

In LA, after three days of arson and looting, 3,767 buildings were burned with over $1 billion in property damage. Donations were given to help with food and medicine and the office of State Senator Diane E. Watson provided shovels and brooms as racially mixed volunteers from all over the community helped clean-up. 13,000 police and troops patrolled the area protecting gas stations and food stores that were not affected by the looting, which were able to reopen along with other areas such as the Universal Studios tour, dance halls, and bars.

Many organizations stepped forward to rebuild Los Angeles; South Central's Operation Hope and Koreatown's Saigu and KCCD (Korean Churches for Community Development), all raised millions to repair destruction and improve economic development. President George H.W. Bush signed a declaration of disaster; which activated Federal relief efforts for the victims of the looting and arson which included grants and low-cost loans to cover their property losses. The Rebuild LA program promised $6 billion in private investment to create 74,000 jobs; which unfortunately never came to fruition.

The majority of the local stores were never rebuilt because, even though store owners had great desire to rebuild, they had trouble getting loans; business owners and investors were naturally discouraged in rebuilding and planting businesses because they considered the risk in the local community too high. So of course this lack of growth prevented increased employment; and the circumstances for the local resident just became worse. Few of the rebuilding plans came to be because business investors as well as the community members rejected South Central L.A.

The members of any community, Ferguson or otherwise, do themselves no favors by burning and destroying the local businesses that provide them services and jobs. One year after the LA Riots fewer than one in four damaged or destroyed businesses reopened, according to the survey conducted by the Korean-American Inter-Agency Council. According to a Los Angeles Times survey conducted eleven months after the riots, almost 40% of Korean-Americans said they were thinking of leaving Los Angeles.

The bottom line – the events in Ferguson today have stirred up grief and even the feelings of fear that I experienced living in Los Angeles in 1992. The racial hatred in the community was completely palpable. Nothing can or will ever excuse such anarchy and the personal actions of destruction and violence. The rioters are simply not justified; which is something that few elected officials, including President Obama have the courage to emphasis.

A QuikTrip Convenience Store in Ferguson - Franchise says they will not risk reopening.
QuikTrip closed 4 local area stores immediately after the recent riots in Ferguson, MO

Twenty years later; much of the immediate community where the LA Riots occurred is far worse off now than it was then. The local poverty is worse, the schools are worse, and the local residents remain under-served - fewer business means fewer jobs and less access to groceries, gas stations, physicians and other essential services. The rioters in Ferguson will most likely create the same outcome for the local community they are today destroying physically. Corporations, private investors and entrepreneurs will not risk future investment in Ferguson area businesses.

This is just truly sad. The situation, poverty and other problems that this particular community in Ferguson MO has been dealing with for years - will now get worse with very little hope of improvement.

The hate filled-rioters are in the process of creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Local Business Owner - Natalie DuBose crying after looters
vandalized her cake store to get "justice" for Michael Brown

Links & Resources

QuikTrip closes 4 Ferguson area stores

20 Years Later: Legacies of the Los Angeles Riots

1992 Los Angeles riots – Wikipedia

Why Officer Darren Wilson wasn't indicted

A cop may use lethal force when he or she “reasonably believes that the action is in defense of human life, including the officer's own life” and in the Ferguson incident, that’s precisely what happened

Video - Mike Brown's Mom Incites a Riot: You Mother f*%ckers Think this is a Joke!

Video - President Obama gives lip service to rioters while he lectures local law enforcement to be careful in how they treat the local Ferguson community. Lots of talk about hurt feelings, but no emphasis on personal responsibility to themselves and their community.
President Obama's full statement on Ferguson grand jury decision

Ferguson looting: My bakery's window is busted
Natalie Dubose has no choice but to carry on, one day after rioters smashed the windows of her Ferguson bakery.

Video -‘Burn This Bi**h Down!’: Mike Brown’s Step-Dad Caught on Vid Inciting Violence, and Here’s How the Family Attorney Responded

Video - Brown family attorney responds to step-dad's 'burn this bitch down' comment

If Al Sharpton had no intention for his rhetoric to contribute to raw emotions and violence; then why was he agitating the local community for the last month?