Twenty years after the acquittal of Los Angeles police officers in the Rodney King beating led to rioting, Angelenos are somewhat optimistic about race relations and crime in the city, according to an LMU poll.
The survey done at Loyola Marymount University's Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles also revealed some pessimism about the city's future, as well as a small-but-lingering ethnic divide over how well
the Angelenos get along with their neighbors.
"We see a lot of positive signs in the results of this survey," said Fernando Guerra, director of the center and professor of political science and Chicana/o studies at LMU. "Angelenos are getting along better with each other, expressing confidence in their police department and feeling safer in their neighborhoods. There are some negative results, but much of that can be attributed to the overall direction of the national economy." The center has conducted surveys about race relations, crime and the city's outlook every five years since 1997, the fifth anniversary of the unrest.
According to the survey:
-- Sixty-eight percent of respondents said Angelenos of different races
and ethnicities get along very well or somewhat well. But there was a
difference in perception. The study found that 76 percent of white respondents
believe race relations are good, compared to 65 percent of minority residents.
-- Respondents gave high marks to the LAPD, with seven in 10 saying the department is doing "good" or "excellent" work.
-- Though reported crime is down in nearly all categories, 34 percent of respondents said they believe crime has worsened over the past 20 years.
-- 44 percent of respondents, the highest number since 1997, believe Los
Angeles is headed in the wrong direction. Those surveyed singled out jobs,
housing costs and the local economy as negative issues. The environment was a bright spot.
-- Surprisingly, people who live where the rioting occurred were less
likely to predict future rioting than those who live elsewhere in the city: 35
percent versus 44 percent.
"One factor that could explain the response of those in riot areas is
their awareness of the continued impact of the riots, in the physical, economic and social sense," Guerra said. "The people who lived through the riots and who live in those neighborhoods now have a much keener sense of the costs of such unrest."