South LA

Community leaders announce campaign to commemorate 30th anniversary of the L.A. Riots

The purpose of the campaign is to build bridges between communities and combat myths that keep communities divided, officials say.

Mayoral candidate Kevin de León speaks at the press conference.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and faith and community leaders gathered at the steps of City Hall Tuesday morning for a press conference that officially launched the Serve, Advocate, Inspire, Give and Unite (SAIGU) campaign, a series of events to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots.

April marks the 30th anniversary of the L.A. riots, which erupted after a jury acquitted four white police officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, a Black motorist who was stopped for speeding. For six days, flames shot up to the sky as the city burned.

Mayoral candidate Kevin de León said the riots highlighted generational abuse toward Black Americans but also unearthed the struggles of the Korean American community.

Saigu is the Korean word for April 29, the day the riots broke out 30 years ago. The word still recalls painful memories in the hearts of many Korean Americans, who suffered disproportionate damage. More than 2,000 Korean-run businesses were looted, completely destroyed or damaged during the riots, causing an estimated $400 million in losses.

Hyepin Im, president and chief executive officer of Faith and Community Empowerment (FACE), the nonprofit organization hosting the campaign, said she seeks to reclaim the word through the campaign to build bridges of understanding and honor the best of what Los Angeles can be.

“We are proud to reclaim the word Saigu, and using the word the call to serve, advocate, inspire, give and unite,” she said.

Mayor Garcetti commended the campaign for leading the effort to bring together Angelenos and alleviate the trauma that still exists in the city.

“How you get rid of trauma,” he said, “is by talking about it and building something better.”

The campaign will hold a series of events like film screenings and symposiums and culminate with a commemoration service, which will be held at Tapestry L.A. Church on the evening of April 29. The Unity Interfaith Prayer Breakfast that will be held at Wilshire United Methodist Church this Friday will officially kick off the campaign.