Report compares L.A. of 1992 to L.A. of the '60s Same conditions led to rioting, panel concludes

October 02, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- A state committee probing the Los Angele riots has concluded that the conditions that fueled the spring unrest were virtually the same as those that led to widespread urban disturbances in the 1960s.

In a report scheduled for release today, the Assembly Special Committee on the Los Angeles Crisis recommends sweeping changes in state and local laws to encourage economic development and self-determination in riot-affected areas.

The panel concludes that the level of poverty and despair in South-Central Los Angeles matches that of the 1960s. But the problems now are aggravated by an "increasing concentration of wealth at the top of the income scale and a decreasing federal and state commitment to urban programs . . . ," its report says.

The 17-member bipartisan committee was established last May to collect information and recommend actions needed at the state level to improve conditions in Los Angeles' inner city and other disadvantaged areas.

It is the only official body so far to hold public hearings that explored the underlying causes of the riots.

Often sounding like haunting echoes of another era, witnesses at those eight hearings cited virtually all of the grievances that a previous generation presented to the McCone and Kerner commissions -- panels appointed more than a quarter of a century ago to investigate the causes of the explosive unrest that devastated Los Angeles and other cities in the 1960s.

"The Kerner and McCone commissions identified poverty, segregation, lack of education and employment opportunities, widespread perceptions of police abuse and unequal consumer services as the principal grievances which led to civil disturbances of the 1960s," the report states. "Little has changed in 1992 Los Angeles."

The committee reports note that the reforms and recommendations offered by those earlier panels largely have gone unfulfilled. Instead of similar large-scale solutions, the panel offers what it calls "the targeting of areas of opportunity."

Its recommendations cover a broad spectrum and include creation of a scholarship program that would award grants to five high school seniors who demonstrate leadership in promoting ethnic relations.

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