LOS ANGELES — Residents of Los Angeles are more pessimistic than ever that racial unrest similar to what the city went through in 1992 will re-occur soon, according to a survey conducted by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University.
The survey results, released today, also show that after improving in the early 2000s, respondents see a decline in how well different racial and ethnic groups get along in Los Angeles — just 61 percent said we get along well now, compared to 76 percent asked the same question in 2017.
Similarly, more respondents say race relations in Los Angeles are worsening: this year, 39 percent said things are getting worse, while just 18 percent said the same five years ago. Younger respondents were less likely to say race relations have worsened in the last four years: 31 percent of those under 45 saw relations deteriorating, while almost half of those in the older group said things were getting worse.
“After years of surveys showing positive trends, in 2022 we see a clear and dramatic drop in how race relations are perceived in Los Angeles,” said Fernando Guerra, director of the center and professor of Political Science and Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies. “Angelenos haven’t been this negative about racial tensions, or more likely to predict disturbances, since we began asking these questions in 1997.”
Researchers with StudyLA have asked the same questions about race relations in Los Angeles every five years since 1997, to take the city’s pulse on these key issues in the aftermath of the 1992 unrest that followed the Rodney King verdict. King, a Black motorist, had been beaten by LAPD officers caught on video, and their subsequent acquittal by a mostly white jury spawned six days of violence and civil unrest across Southern California.
The information is from StudyLA’s Los Angeles Public Opinion Survey and the ongoing LA Riots Anniversary Study. The 2022 survey was conducted by phone, online, and in-person, in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Korean, from Jan. 4 to Feb. 10. The responses of city of Los Angeles residents have been captured every five years since the LA Riots in 1992. For this portion of the study, the results of the 1,000 city of LA residents are provided (2,002 respondents were surveyed countywide) with a margin of error of 3 percent.
Previous findings showed that another riot or disturbance like what Los Angeles witnessed in 1992 was further and further from the reality. Respondents saying a similar riot would happen in the next five years dropped gradually over time from 65 percent in 1997 down to 47 percent in 2012.
“Then came the results from 2017 and the trend was reversing. We had hoped it was an anomaly, but it wasn’t, not even close,” said Brianne Gilbert, managing director of the center and senior lecturer in urban and environmental studies and political science. “Now a full 68 percent of residents in Los Angeles think something like what happened in 1992 could happen again.”
The full report is available online here.
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