L.A. observes healing, unity a year after riots

April 30, 1993|By Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES -- On the first anniversary of the worst rioting this century, residents of Los Angeles spent the day celebrating the ideals of healing, harmony, rebirth and rebuilding.

"A year ago, Los Angeles was a city on fire," said the Rev. William Epps of the Second Baptist Church. "Lives were lost. Businesses were burned. Tempers were out of control.

"Today, we gather together in a demonstration of solidarity and unity," Mr. Epps said yesterday. "People of different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicity gather to say: 'we can get along.' Together we can rebuild our city."

Mr. Epps spoke at a service at the Congregational Church of Christian Fellowship which sits astride the border between South Central Los Angeles and Koreatown. The program was organized by African- and Korean-American ministers.

As part of the service, a choir of 18 Korean-American ministers delivered a stirring if unusual version of a well-known African-American civil-rights anthem, singing "We Shall Overcome" in Korean.

"We didn't recognize the words,but we sure did know the tune," said Lois J. Shreeves as she left the service. "This is just something that people need to do -- to get together and get to know each other."

"This is what's good about Los Angeles," said Marcia Choo, program director of the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center.

Candlelight vigils and prayer services dotted the dusk that spread across the city.

At a park at Olympic Boulevard and Normandie Avenue, hundreds of Korean-Americans held candles aloft to pray for peace and press for government aid for hundreds of merchants who suffered catastrophic losses last year.

Only a quarter of Korean-Americans who lost shops and businesses have been able to rebuild, said Brian S. Kim, president of the Korean American Coalition.

Two thousand businesses owned by Korean-Americans were destroyed during the riots. Damage to businesses was estimated at $400 million, Mr. Kim said.

California Gov. Pete Wilson -- joined by Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block -- helped dedicate a youth center built in the South Central area following the riots.

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