1992: The Los Angeles Riots

Simmering racial tensions erupted in April 1992 when four white Los Angeles police officers were acquitted in a case of documented brutality against Rodney King, an unarmed African American suspect in their custody. 58 people died in the ensuing citywide unrest.

Fires during the L.A. Riots

US news reports focused on “black/white” racial tensions in Los Angeles.   The discontent of the Latino community and the repressive focus of the policing of their communities were reported primarily in the Spanish language and foreign media.

However, the official post-disturbance response had a profoundly lasting impact on Latino Los Angeles and on Mexico and Central American countries whose citizens emigrate to Los Angeles.

Increased cooperation between Los Angeles Police Department, LAPD, gang units and Federal Immigration Enforcement agents intensified repressive vigilance of Latino gang-involved youth and increased deportation of non-citizen immigrant youth offenders for non-violent minor crimes.

1992 was the year that US gangs first became a visible presence in Central America.