LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Even as the national debate over race relations continues to simmer in the Trayvon Martin shooting, a poll released Thursday found most Angelenos believe the city is safer and more racially harmonious than it has been in decades.
The survey conducted by the Loyola Marymount University's Center for the Study of Los Angeles found nearly seven in 10 residents felt racial and ethnic groups were getting along well in the city.
Many also say Los Angeles is unlikely to see future rioting like the uprising after the 1992 acquittals of four white police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King.
The Center's director Fernando Guerra told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that public perception has changed significantly from the days of the L.A. riots in which 54 people were killed.
"There's been a tremendous demographic shift in terms of the number of people who moved from one neighborhood to the other, so you have many more multicultural neighborhoods," said Guerra.
Almost four in 10 residents say the city is safer now than in 1992, while three in 10 say it is about the same. Three in 10 say it isn't as safe as 20 years ago.
The Feb. 1 to March 2 telephone survey -- which questioned 1,605 residents who self-identified as Latinos, blacks, Asian Americans and whites -- found that dialogue is one reason for the improvement in relations.
"We're much more comfortable talking about race, not completely comfortable, it's still a challenge, but much more comfortable than we were 20 years ago," said Guerra.
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