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OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

February 07, 1993

Outside Looking In is an occasional column reporting how Central Los Angeles is portrayed in the news media outside our area.

The CBS Evening News reported Jan. 28 on its poll showing that 75% of people surveyed believe there will be more rioting if the four Los Angeles police officers accused of violating the civil rights of motorist Rodney G. King are found not guilty. When asked, "How are things going in Los Angeles?" 68% said badly. And 61% said local government officials were doing a poor job.

The report concluded: "On the eve of the new police trial, L.A. is a city with a case of the jitters. Wounded. Nervous. Suspicious. The bright note in our survey was this: Half the people we asked said life will get better here. But that's because many feel it's at its worst now."

Time magazine also wrote about the trial in its Feb 8. edition. The article, "L.A.'s Open Wounds," said in part:

"The latest cases will test a city that today has a new police chief, a new district attorney and at least 52 candidates for mayor. Yet in the streets the frustration and despair that helped trigger last year's violence show little change. . . .

"For the time being . . . the prospects for racial peace in Los Angeles appear to rest more heavily on (Police Chief Willie L.) Williams than on anyone else. On the days of the verdicts, Williams will have police on every corner in troubled neighborhoods, along with street patrols . . ."

"On the eve of the new trials, a calm and forceful police presence is the best insurance that L.A. can avoid another explosion."

The New York Times in January sized up the Los Angeles mayoral race in a front-page story. Some excerpts:

"The election marks a turning point for Los Angeles, an ethnically divided and economically struggling city of 3.5 million that is vastly different from the one (Tom) Bradley took over in 1973. The coalitions that put him in office and kept him there are shattered, the city is trying to recover from last year's civil disorders, the population has changed from mostly 'Anglo,' as non-Hispanic white people are called here, to mostly minority . . .

"The candidates face an odd demographic fact of life: even though about two-thirds of the city's population is now made up of Mexican-Americans, blacks, Asian-Americans and other minorities, more than two-thirds of the voters are still Anglo. One reason is that many immigrants are not citizens and are therefore ineligible to vote; another is that minority citizens who are eligible tend to turn out in low numbers.

"Thus the campaign will be fought hardest in the largely white San Fernando Valley and Westside, where fear of crime and further racial strife runs deep . . . Tom Bradley will probably be the last black mayor of Los Angeles for some time."

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