Readers Argue about Los Angeles Riots


May 06, 1992

I was stunned and outraged by the acquittal of the police officers in the brutal beating of Rodney King. Hopefully, this tragedy will create an awareness of the violence that the government can inflict on its people and of the fragility of our basic rights as American citizens.

The situation in U.S. cities has deteriorated to the point where radical measures are necessary to save them. Not to undertake this will end up costing billions in drug treatment, law enforcement and jails.

Sending troops -- while perhaps temporarily necessary -- is not a long-term solution for the problems that face this country. Nor is a capital gains tax cut.

Poverty, which has been built into our economic system, the neglect of the education and health of our citizens and the on-going destruction of our environment are a greater threat to our security than any foreign power. Correcting these problems will take time, money and a massive shift in national priorities.

Money is available. It is in the coffers of the Pentagon and the bank accounts of the very rich.

Annapolis Councilman Carl Snowden's suggestion of a living wage is timely. The demeaning welfare system should be dismantled. A public works program should be developed which provides jobs and a decent wage, as well as job training.

In the private sector, if an employer cannot afford to pay a wage which enables a family to live in dignity and health, the government should provide a supplementary income.

R. E. Lee Lears


Our criminal justice system is far from perfect. And it will always be such since to be human is to be imperfect.

If the verdict handed down by the jury in the Rodney King case was wrong, consider its aftermath. Was the murder, mayhem, looting, arson less wrong?

If the King verdict was unjust and wrong, the reaction to it by the black community in America -- particularly in Los Angeles -- was infinitely more wrong. It's an accepted axiom that two wrongs can never make a right.

The King verdict was nothing more than a rationale to disregard law and order by an entire community. And nothing -- not the verdict nor anything else -- can be used as rationalization for such lawless and violent behavior.

Louis P. Boeri


A travesty has been committed upon all decent and law-abiding Americans, no matter what their color.

For several months, black civil rights leaders stated that the Rodney King trial would prove that the black man is given no justice in America. They set the stage for the anarchy and violence which followed the verdict -- and they are going to give new strength to little demagogues like David Duke.

Police brutality is a fact of life. It happens to people of all colors, not just blacks, and most times the police are never convicted of any crime.

The police are not the Boy Scouts. When you mess with them, you are going to get hurt. The black leaders knew this. But instead of telling the people these truths, they did everything to instigate the reaction to the verdict except strike the first match.

Susan Carr


The jury verdict in the L.A. police brutality trial is sickening, frightening and outrageous. It sends a message to the world that African Americans or other minorities -- Latinos, Asians, gays -- face the possibility of senseless beatings without anticipation of receiving appropriate redress of their grievances in our courts.

This verdict is a bloodstain on the record of justice in America.

Alfred S. Sharlip


The jury's decision conveys, tragically, that white life, in this instance, has primacy over black life.

It is imperative that President Bush use the full force of his high office to assert moral leadership and to support social justice and equity for all. It, too, is urgent that Attorney General William Barr conduct the most rigorous investigation and initiate action to address human rights violations by the four policemen.

Samuel L. Banks


The jury in the King beating trial is among the last that should be blamed for the current state of race relations. More or less, it was a cross section of white America. The verdict rendered in Simi Valley, Calif., probably could have been repeated in any number of similarly situated communities across the country.

As a white majority society, we repeatedly elect leaders who have backed away from positions supporting civil rights not only for African Americans but for women and children as well.

These leaders then turn around and play on these fears as part of their campaign strategies.

So it is no accident that we arrive at the courtroom in Simi Valley where a predominantly white jury acquits four white policemen of brutally beating a African American man who may conjure up for many whites a nightmarish image of African American anger running out of control.

If the decision in the Rodney King beating trial was a miscarriage of justice, then it was a miscarriage of white justice and we have no one to blame but ourselves. For it is we who own the major assets of this country, who make the laws, who will determine what kind of country this will be racially and economically.

The jury that decided the Rodney King beating case is merely a mirror of white American society.

If we don't like what we saw in that decision, if it resembles South African justice more than American justice, then it is we who "just don't get it."

Michael Pepper


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