Manual Arts students write about the riots

This is a collection of writings by ninth graders in Mark Gomez’ geography class at Manual Arts High School about the Los Angeles riots then and now. They wrote their essays using the five themes of geography with help from USC mentor Adriana Chavez-Lopez

No, the LA RIOTS was not cause of the beating of Rodney King. Rodney King was another issue but it was a little about it ’cause the black community got mad ’cause the judge saw the video and still had the guts to say that the four police man were innocent. And they got the black people more mad then what they were already.
Jocelyn Macias

What We Learn About Push Factors And The L.A. Riots
What we learn about the L.A. riots is that in 1965 five days before Watts exploded the Voting Rights Act had been signed into law. In 1992 the concerns are that sight of blacks destroying their own community. That the riots were like black gangs and that they were like destroying there[sic] own society and not thinking of their members.

What Push Factors Drive Emigration Means
Political Push Factors: War is one of many political factors that can create refugees. Well the people refugees may flee a country, because of the fear they had and its leaders.
Environmental Push Factors: In the 1840s, a devastating plant disease struck Ireland. In Ireland a fungus destroyed most of the important crops of potato and the potatoes were the main food in Ireland so they couldn’t have been destroyed.

Economic Push Factors: Most of the early immigrants to the United States were poor farmers or working people. People go to other communities for better jobs.
Raul Gonzalez

One thing I learned about the beating of Rodney King was that in 1992 there was a lot of police brutality. The LA riots were also about how whites were favored over blacks. This was proved when the cops beat Rodney King for 81 seconds on videotape and got away with it. This makes me ask why did the jury say that the cops that beat Rodney King were innocent. I am frustrated with police getting away with things today. For example, even now there are some police officers that will pull you over because of your skin color.
Jessi Rodriguez

Reading the “1992 L.A. in flames after ‘not guilty’ verdict” article, I learned how the L.A. riots began. Also, I learned about the issue of Rodney King refusing to get arrested and supposedly getting aggressive causing Rodney to be beaten by the police. This in fact was not true. The policemen were not found guilty therefore caused the riots to begin. But the beating of Rodney King was not the only reason why the L.A. riots began. Blacks were tired of being mistreated and not being allowed to go to places they would like to go, it was unfair. Whites knew Blacks were desperate for money and they took advantage but the Blacks couldn’t do much.

People wanted to put a stop to it, which led to the L.A. riots. People dragged motorists from their cars and beat them, cars were overturned and set on fire, and some people even took revenge against White and Asians. According to BBC news “at least 5 people were shot dead. About 2,000 were injured with a further 12,000 arrested.” Damages cost $1b to repair. Some people believed that people did this just to have new buildings but [in] reality they just wanted to be heard. A year later the police faced a second trial. Only the jury found two guilty, whose name were Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell. The point of this article was how people in South Central were tired of being unheard and mistreated. Some questions that I have that were not answer are: During the riots, how did Rodney King feel knowing part of why the L.A. riots happened was because of the beating? What could of happened if the police man were still not found guilty? This article reminds me of many issues, for example Martin Luther King. He and his family was also beaten and almost killed.

But he still fought for a change. Now we honor him on January 21. Martin Luther King went through many obstacles but yet he still achieved his goal, which was making change. I believe the L.A. riots were a good thing after all, even if people died.
Lisette Carranza

In my geography class we are talking about the LA Riots. Before reading the article about Rodney King, I didn’t know anything about the riots. I learned that policemen could be cruel and not always nice. The police had power over Rodney King and they abused it, so therefore he and the entire black community didn’t have the power to overcome the police. A question I have after reading about the riots is did one person start the riots or did a group of people start it?

The LA Riots were not only about beating Rodney King but also the whole Black community. If you were Black in 1992 and if you were somewhere at the wrong time or wrong place the same thing would have happened to you. I feel like I can relate to Rodney King because one of my family members passed through a similar situation. My uncle was stopped at a checkpoint and the cop stopped him because he looked dark. They took him to the police station and took his things so once he got deported the police station never gave him his cell phone or money. After reading about the riots knowing how cops beat Black people in 1992 and how my uncle was treated recently, I realized how in over 20 years there still hasn’t been a lot of change in racism.

Miriam Toledo

In my Geography class we have been learning a lot of new things. A few weeks ago we started to talk about the LA Riots. The LA Riots relate to Geography because in they wouldn’t give money to the rioters and that relates to Geography because of the 4 Worlds. What I recently learned was that over 2,000 people were injured in the LA Riots and 12,000 were arrested. Before learning this I didn’t know that Rodney King was NOT the MAIN reason for the LA Riots. He just maid[sic] black people say enough is enough. Some people may favor blacks and some may favor whites but more people favor the LAPD. In the Riots why were blacks beating Asians? When I heard about it, it reminded me of a few things like when people call Immigrants “Aliens” and insult them because they know they won’t fight back because they are scared. It also reminded me of the Civil War because they are treated differently because of their color “Discrimination.” I can relate to this because the LAPD are racist and they give people tickets and arrest them for their race. The problem has changed since the LA Riots but not completely gone away.
Belen Garcia

I learned that Watts exploded because the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, clearing away barriers for blacks to vote. This is related to the Voting Acts Right because it’s all about how blacks should have their own rights of voting. They were really happy because they had their chance of having voting rights. In a country that is about freedom why did blacks have to fight for theirs? This is really a lot like in EL Salvador where people always have to fight the government for their right. Another thing is that the people in El Salvador have too many problems with the government of getting their rights. Here in the United States is almost the same thing because its hard to get your rights especially for Latinos, sometimes Blacks, and other kinds of races. I wish that all those people that don’t have any rights they should get an opportunity of having some rights. Another thing is that about the people that cross that border and want an opportunity of having a job and helping their family and trying to be a citizen of this country. People all over the world think that they should come here because they think this is a country of jobs.

Isaac Castro

What I have learned from the Riots was how Rodney King’s beating was one of the causes for the riots. He wasn’t the main cause but a small portion. I didn’t really know anything about Rodney King and how he was beaten by four cops nor about the riots. This was really all new to me! But after I read the article and talked about it I learned a lot about him and how the LA Riots started. He was like the person who made the people lose control. In the end I think this is favoring the African Americans because those cops were punished for violating Rodney King’s civil rights! This favored the African Americans because they got the justice they fought for through all that violence they had to go through. One of the questions I had that wasn’t really answered was, “What happened to the four police officers that beat Rodney King after they served their punishment?” I would like to know what happened to them after all that happened. Did they live a normal life? Or a harsh one? This issue reminds me of how police authorities always believe the white person over the colored one. How could those four cops not be guilty — they have the beating of Rodney King on video! It was an all-white jury; it wasn’t really fair for Rodney King! One example is if a white person gets into trouble with a colored person, the police would most likely believe the white person! That’s what I learned about the Riots And Rodney King and his beating.
Nerry Amaya

I learned that the L.A. Riots started because of the beating of Rodney King, but it wasn’t the only cause. Four police officers were found guilty for beating Rodney King. A crowd of people started to burn shops and cars were turned over and set on fire. The Riot wasn’t only about police beating Rodney King, it was also about police brutality. People didn’t think that police brutality was fair. I think that police brutality isn’t fair and it needs to stop. Police need to start acting in a better way. I wonder why do police act so brutally. Is it because of peoples’ skin color or the way they look? Why did the police beat Rodney King? Why do police think their the shit only because they have a gun. Like what the hell is wrong with them? They should respect others too because they don’t like when people disrespect them. I think that the Rodney King case wasn’t fair because the judge was white and the police officers were too. The judge is racist because Rodney King was black and the four police officers where white so he didn’t think that the officers were guilty, people didn’t think that it was fair.
Ana Hernandez

I recently learned about the Rodney King beating and the not guilty verdict by the police who beat him. The Black people in the community reacted to that verdict because they found the judge’s verdict completely unfair and racist since the cops were White. A question I have is why did this whole Rodney King verdict have to occur. For the Whites and law to see how all of the police brutality and racism was affecting so many people in the community. I’ve seen people resist arrest before and Rodney King did not resist, the police began beating him while he couldn’t do anything and I’ve seen police beat at people like that and sometimes it isn’t fair because it could be five cops against one person, and that’s like what happened to Rodney King. Police can be rude sometimes, I’ve seen them be rude to my uncle once and they almost arrested him in our own house, they wanted him to come out of the house to talk but we all knew if he got out the property the cops would get him, for doing absolutely nothing. And since my uncle looks like a gang member, I believe the cops were discriminating him. The LA Riots did not only happen because of King, he was one of the reasons, but people just got tired of being mistreated and being judged for years and the police “not guilty” verdict finally made them react to the years of racism, beatings and unfairness, which is how the LA Riots occurred.
Carolina Silva

In 1992: LA in flames after ‘not guilty’ verdict article I learned that police officers were discriminating against other races that are not white, especially the blacks. What was significant about this article was that other law enforcements were concerned with what was going on and were disappointed in the LA police force especially on their behavior. This article favors the people with power and control over lesser people. The Rodney King verdict was unfair to many that thought those police officers should go to jail and pay for their hate crime against King. Though afterwards,” the four acquitted police officers had a second trial a year later on the federal charges of violating Rodney King’s civil rights.” Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell were found guilty and each had to serve two years in prison. That verdict seemed fair enough, even though there were more than two officers beating King.
Diana Renoj

The LA Riots
Recently in my Geography class we have been studying the LA Riots. We have been trying to figure out if things have changed since the LA Riots. We read about the Rodney King incident, we read about how Rodney King was beaten and how the police officers that did the beating were found innocent in the first trial. Something that I didn’t know was that in the second [trial] only the officers Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell [were tried]. The other two officers were Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseno. I think the jury that had to do with the Rodney King trial was being unfair. They were being unfair because I think that they were being biased because they knew that the police were guilty but since they are the law enforcement they didn’t have to deal the consequences of their actions. Rodney King wasn’t the main reason why the LA Riots happened. I think that it was just one of the few reasons why the LA Riots happened. I think the LA Riots happened because people were tired of being mistreated because of the color of their skin. If everybody would be treated the same then the LA Riots would of never happened. I think the police officers were a big factor to the LA Riots I think this because the people who were being the most unfair were the police. I think that law enforcement today is still unfair. I think that some police officers are racist. For example, one time the police stopped my brother-in-law for no reason. I think they stopped him because he was black and he had west coast tattooed on his arms. The police had no reason to stop him; they were just being racist.
Casandra Gutierrez

After reading about the Rodney King matter I learned that police were very cruel and thought that they can do whatever they desired just because they were the authority. I feel like most people are in favor of Rodney King because he was brutally beaten for no reason at all. One of the questions I had was “Why would our country leaders allow such brutality towards people of color?” This issue reminded me of the racist policemen of today, and how they mistreat people, mostly people of color. The Rodney King issue really made me think about how the jury in the Rodney King trial could even think that the four policemen were not guilty after they beat an innocent man. The most ridiculous thing about the Rodney King trial was that the jury was all white, not a single person of color. The reason why the L.A. Riots occurred is that people were tired of all the racism going on towards them, and the Rodney King beating was the straw that broke the camels back. I can relate to this because I’m the type of person that will not tolerate any disrespect towards me or the people I care about
Karla Ayala

OpEd: Manual Arts teachers, alumni and parents write a new plan for education in their community

By Mark Gomez, Social Studies Teacher at Manual Arts High School

Attendees decorate t-shirts at a community forum held in the summer.

This is a David and Goliath story in which energized teachers, students and parents from Manual Arts High School decided to take matters into their own hands and disrupt the inadequate status quo of public education in South Central LA’s Local District 7.

Through Public School Choice 3.0, LAUSD requested proposals for Augustus Hawkins High School, a new campus that will relieve the overcrowded Manual Arts campus. Local District 7 submitted one generic proposal for multiple new schools to continue business as usual. A group of teachers, students, and parents wanted to create a school that is for the community by the community. Thus, the Schools for Community Action (SCA) were born.

Committed to bring fresh air to a historically stale educational environment, SCA has been tirelessly working to ensure the new Augustus Hawkins campus will be an innovative and effective public school for the families of South Central. Throughout the Spring and Summer, they organized numerous community meetings that brought students, local police officers, parents, business owners, social service workers, university affiliates and educators together to create the vision for this school.

A woman speaks at a community forum held in the summer.

Based on the community input, it became clear that parents and students desire options and concrete college and career paths in their public schools. SCA has submitted four small school proposals for the overall site. Each of SCA’s four small schools plans have a focus – Community Health Advocates School (social work/therapy), Critical Design and Gaming School (game design, tech and media), Responsible Indigenous Social Entrepreneurship (local business/responsible consumerism) and School of Urban Sustainability and Environmental Science (urban planning, environmental engineering). In addition to campus wide community partners, each school has reached out to specific university programs to further support their instructional programs. USC School of Social Work, Loyola Marymount University, as well as UCLA School of Public Policy, are just a few of the programs committed to support SCA’s academic programs.

Attendees talk at a community forum held in the summer

Each small school is linked by SCA’s core values, which are: student centered, community collaboration, innovation and excellence, social justice and sustainability. SCA will also have an advisory program in all four schools that is designed to establish a true home base to support student attendance and address the individual needs that students bring to school every day. The SCA school plans are designed to support the whole student and welcomes parent and community support in all of the school programs.

If the Local District 7 plans are approved, students will continue to be limited to blocks of remedial math and English, with only the hope of possibly having the opportunity in their senior year to take courses that relate to a career. The SCA plans are designed to interest and support every student from 9th grade through 12th grade.

Supt. John Deasy is expected to give his decision next week regarding the future of Augustus Hawkins High School.

For more information, please see the SCA website or contact Mark Gomez at 310-699-6342; [email protected]