* Los Angeles police made the vast number of arrests in the sample area--about 1,000 in the 24 hours that began at midnight after the controversial King beating verdicts. "Contrary to widespread impression, the data indicate that the LAPD did not lie low for long," the RAND statement noted.
* Although Latino men accounted for most of the arrests overall, blacks accounted for 47% of the arrests on weapons charges, contrasted with 39% for Latinos and 12% for Anglos. While older offenders are usually the ones found with guns, "younger ones were more likely to have a weapon" during the riots, Petersilia said.
Petersilia, who directs RAND's Criminal Justice Research Program, said one flaw in the data is the absence of detail about the location of arrests. She said she hopes eventually to compare the locations to census data to get a better sense of how the arrestees match up against the local population.
"This is really dirty data," she said. "It's not exactly science."
UCLA management Prof. James Q. Wilson, one of the nation's leading experts on crime, also cautioned against drawing sweeping conclusions from such early statistics.
But, like Duncan and some others, he speculated that the high Latino arrest totals in the survey are best explained by population figures.
"Let's say (the rioting) started with blacks . . . then progressed to looting," Wilson said. "If the immediate area is composed mostly of Latinos . . . Latinos are going to be the ones police are going to pick up."
In addition to RAND, the ACLU of Southern California is examining the computerized Municipal Court data, in part to see if there was any discrimination in law enforcement during the riots.
Cathy Dreyfuss, an ACLU staff attorney, said cultural factors could explain why many recent immigrants from Central American countries might have readily submitted to arrest or let police search their homes during sweeps for looted merchandise. "Of course, they're going to let the cops in," she said.
But ACLU research director Allan Parachini said that while "there are more Latinos (arrested) than we expected. . . . My opinion is that it's not that different than what's normal. There are usually more Hispanics (than blacks) arrested" in Los Angeles.
The initial finding, however, "makes it really clear that someone ought to be taking a more structured, detailed well-financed look at this," he said.
Who Were the Rioters? The first detailed statistical study of most of the criminal cases stemming from the Los Angeles riots shows that 51% of the people arrested were Latino, while 36% were black. A breakdown of criminal charges shows that police at first concentrated on snaring looters, but that their focus changed when a curfew was imposed and looting diminished. Over the weekend, most arrests were for curfew violations and other "civil disturbance" offenses. Latinos accounted for a narrow majority of arrests, but among women the arrests of blacks outnumbered those of Latinos. Adults by racial / ethnic group processed by the Los Angeles Municipal Court. Latino Male: 2,619 Female: 233 Total: 2,852 Black Male: 1,756 Female: 281 Total: 2,037 Anglo Male: 471 Female: 130 Total: 601 Other Male: 130 Female: 13 Total: 143 Arrests by type of crime Civil disturbance (Primarily curfew violations): 2,361 Traffic: 426 Drug possession / sale: 244 Property (Primarily looting): 1,964 Violent: 570 Source: RAND Corp.