Beyond the Beltway: Struggles, racial tensions still lingers in Los Angeles

World Today

The city of Los Angeles has a long history of tensions over race and poverty, which at times, has led to extreme violence. As a candidate, U.S. President Donald Trump promised to fix the ills of the ‘inner cities.’ But analysts suggest it may have been just a way to gain more African-American votes.

CGTN’s May Lee takes a look at the state of the ‘inner city’ in LA.

The opening of the Vermont Miracle Park symbolizes progress and hope for an inner city community that’s often overlooked – South Central Los Angeles. 

The park is a miracle. Twenty-five years ago when the LA uprising was exploding, a building was burned to the ground. And for 25 years this lot was completely abandoned. 

“This vacant lot just stood here for years,” Tamika Butler from LA Neighborhood Land Trust said. “Trash has overgrown bushes. The community wanted something but nothing’s coming, so we decided to take this on and give the community what it wanted.”

It’s such a dramatic difference from 1992 when violence erupted following the acquittal of four white police officers for excessively beating black motorist Rodney King. Dozens of people were killed, thousands injured and property damage totaled more than a billion dollars.

“I came here and I’m thinking ‘Oh God, my business is going down and they put water on my building so my building wasn’t touched,” business owner Leonard Lumas remembered the LA Uprising as clear as day. 

Although calm has returned to South Central Los Angeles, the community, like so many other inner cities, is still struggling.

The top issues are cost of living, housing affordability, homelessness and jobs.

Alberto Retana, President of the Community Coalition of LA says progress is happening, but he also said, the Trump administration’s disinterest in helping inner cities thus far is raising alarm bells. There is a silver lining the president is inspiring more engagement and action. 

“No major social reform to the benefit to the inner city communities and communities of color has ever happened without a mass movement,” Retana said.

Activists at the Inner City Law Center, which grapples with LA’s exploding homeless crisis, are also closely watching the Trump Administration.

“There’re policies that are really harmful to low income families that are struggling to keep a roof over their heads,” Adam Murray from Inner City Law Center said. “The policies that are coming from the federal level are making it worse again and again and again.”

But advocates who are in the trenches of the war against poverty and injustice have hope in the power of the people.

“I don’t think these decisions reflect the America that most people want to be,” Murray added. “I think we believe we’re better than how we’re acting right now.”