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We're All Just Getting Along Fine 20 Years After L.A. Riots, Survey Says

South Normandie Avenue near the ignition point.
South Normandie Avenue near the ignition point.

If you remember the aftermath of the riots, things were dire in Los Angeles, and it seemed like every other white family had left town for the Pacific Northwest.

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the uprisings and chaos, Loyola Marymount University has released a survey measuring the temperature of our city, especially when it comes to race relations.

The results could be skewed:

In an attempt to be inclusive, one-forth of respondents are of Korean descent, one-forth are African American, one-forth are white and one-forth are Latino. That certainly isn't representative of L.A.'s population. (We're about half Latino, and whites make up the next largest racial/ethnic group).

[Clarification]: Fernando Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at LMU, called to say that although the poll was conducted this way, the ethnic groups' data was weighed for its population representation. In other words, although black folks made up 25 percent of the respondents, its data was then essentially compressed to represent its percentage of the L.A. population.

He explained that this is "oversampling:" If about 1,000 people were polled, as in a normal, scientific survey, only less than 10 percent or so would have been African American, perhaps not enough to get an accurate reading.

Likewise, a sample size of only 400 Latinos in an area where they make up half the population is quite low (arguably, it constitutes undersampling) and could have issues, although, in that case, the data was projected and adjusted in an attempt to echo Latinos' size. Most big city and national surveys strive for 1,000 or more respondents to reduce margin of error.

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But the numbers are consistent and mostly comparable with LMU's last three riot surveys 5, 10 and 15 years after the events of April, 1992.

-58 percent of those surveyed, a high since the survey started, said race and ethnic relations were going "somewhat well" in L.A.

-When asked if L.A. was safer now than in the time of the riots (are you kidding? MacArthur Park was an open-air drug bazaar, and so was the Venice boardwalk), the biggest number, 38 percent, said yes.

-An all-time low, 15 percent, said another riot was "very likely" in the next five years.

But ... after 59 percent of respondents said we've made "a lot of progress" in race relations in 2002, the number dipped to 18 percent in 2012.

Is L.A. going in the right direction in general? Respondents tied an all-time low for the survey, with only 32 percent saying yeah.

Read it all here (PDF).

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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