The riots of 1992 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Ted Soqui)
The riots of 1992 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Ted Soqui)

On March 8th, The California African American Museum opened a new exhibition entitled "No Justice, No Peace: LA 1992" in honor of the 25th anniversary of the LA Riots that erupted from the verdict of the Rodney King case. The exhibition pays homage to the damage done not only to the city of Los Angeles in 1992, but also to the civil unrest that created large discrepancies between the African American, Korean, and Caucasian communities. The exhibition features news videos from the riots, graphically violent photographs, and even posters from other outbreaks that developed from this anarchy.

The main exhibit displayed various events from African American history which erupted from brutality. Stories of victims such as Latasha Harlins and Eulia Love, along with the history of the Zoot Suit riots and the Watts Rebellion, are portrayed through explicit photographs, old video footage from a news broadcast, and large posters complete with quotes from historical African American figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The exhibit remains enthralling throughout and is complete with a powerful ending in which visitors are asked the question "In the midst of today's political climate, how can we bring change to unify ourselves?" Responses can be recorded on a ticket sized paper and then posted in the exhibit to remind visitors that this type of cultural unrest is still present today, and there are various ways to attempt to resolve it.

While walking around the exhibit, the feelings of oppression, violence, and crisis are overwhelming. However, it is the "in conjunction" piece that truly steals the show. In addition to the main museum exhibit, there is the "Trouble Every Day: LA 1965/1992" exhibition. This room features a recreated traditional African American home from the late 1980's-1990's, complete with a couch, coffee table, and television set. While it may look like a normal home due to the family pictures, clothing and shoes on the ground, and some favorite books, it does not take long to realize there is an unsettling manner to this room. The surrounding living room walls are plastered with LAPD riot team officer replicas, exposing how African Americans lived in a constant state of fear and paranoia even in their own homes. While standing in the exhibit, it is hard to refrain from feeling a sense of suffocation from the intimidation present on the walls.

The combination of the videos, photographs, and other victim stories along with the family room replication drive home the feelings of hurt, betrayal, and paranoia that the African American community felt during the riots of 1992. Unfortunately, with current events of police brutality towards African Americans, and vendettas from civilians such as the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman incident, this community still must live in this constant state of fear, even close to 26 years after the first publication of the Rodney King beating was exposed.