Diversity, Equity & Social Justice

The 1992 Los Angeles Uprising and Civil Unrest: Examining Its Causes and Legacy

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For five days in late 1992, Los Angeles was in the grip of civil unrest that led to significant death and destruction, causing the mayor to declare a state of emergency. The uprising followed the acquittal of four LAPD officers charged with using excessive force in the brutal, videotaped beating of a Black man named Rodney King.

In this panel, experts discuss the civil unrest in L.A. in 1992, the impact of the turmoil on laws and policies, and how police brutality and police reform have changed since the uprising.

The panel features Manuel Pastor, director of USC Dornsife Equity Research Institute, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity, and Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change, and George Sanchez, director of the Center for Diversity and Democracy and USC American Studies and Ethnicity professor.

The panel is moderated by Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard, assistant director of community and public engagement at the USC Dornsife Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

Who Will Benefit

– Young policymakers hoping to understand how the system has transformed since 1992 and how Los Angeles can be further improved
– History enthusiasts seeking deeper insights about the 1992 Los Angeles uprising
– Los Angelenos looking to learn more about the city’s history of police brutality and criminal justice reform

About Our Featured Faculty

Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard is the assistant director of Community and Public Engagement with the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard combines her experience as a pastor and expertise as a community leader to help faith leaders become full partners in the work of social change. She leads programming for the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement, which is housed at CRCC. Smith-Pollard also is a pastor, motivational speaker, author, life coach, radio personality and community activist. Smith-Pollard holds a bachelor’s in management from Pepperdine University, a Bachelor of Theology from the Southern California School of Ministry, an MBA from Woodbury University and a doctorate in ministry from United Theological Seminary.

Manuel Pastor is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He currently directs the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at USC and USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII). Pastor’s research has generally focused on issues of the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income urban communities – and the social movements seeking to change those realities. Pastor holds an economics PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the inaugural holder of the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC.

George J. Sanchez is the professor of American studies and ethnicity and history, and he has served as director of USC Dornsife Diversity since April 2008. He is responsible for ensuring that USC Dornsife’s fundamental commitment to the benefits of a diverse community is effectively translated into best practices in areas such as faculty recruitment and retention, graduate student programs, and undergraduate research experiences and advancement. He works with all College departments to address what the commitment to diversity means in various disciplinary settings. To ensure USC Dornsife efforts have an impact beyond the immediate community, he works with a variety of national organizations and foundations on the development of special programs and research agendas.