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Community leaders mark 30th anniversary of LA riots

Community leaders mark 30th anniversary of LA riots 01:51

This month marks the 30-year anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots which erupted after a jury acquitted four officers in the beating of Rodney King.

The L.A. riots began on April 29, 1992, and lasted six days. By the time it ended, 63 people had been killed, hundreds more injured, and more than 1,000 buildings destroyed by fires. The National Guard was called in to restore order.

"There's not a single Angeleno who can't remember where they were and what they were feeling in the moments of the L.A. riots erupting in the streets of L.A.," L.A. City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said in a news conference Tuesday morning.

It was especially painful for those in the Korean American community. They owned nearly half of the businesses that were destroyed.

"Trust in the system, in our leaders, and trust between different communities, who were pitted against one another, was at an all-time low," said Hyepin Im, founder of the nonprofit group Faith and Community Empowerment (FACE).

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, city officials and community leaders held a news conference Tuesday morning to mark the launch of the Serve, Advocate, Inspire, Give and Unite (SAIGU) campaign, a series of events to commemorate the anniversary. SAIGU is the Korean word for April 29, 1992.

The SAIGU campaign was also launched in 2012 and 2017, on the 20th and 25th anniversaries.

Community activist Najee Ali on Tuesday apologized for not calling for unity during the riots. He admits he was angry, not only about the Rodney King beating, but also the response to the killing of Latasha Harlins, a young Black woman who was shot and killed by a Korean store owner.

"We had a right to be angry, but what we didn't have a right to do was turn on our fellow Angelenos," Ali said.

SAIGU is a word that used to symbolize pain, but local Korean Americans say it no longer has to.

"We are proud to reclaim the word SAIGU, and using the word, the call to serve, advocated, inspire, give and unite," Im said. 

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