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Roots of Civil Unrest Remain in the Inner City, Study Says


The impact of last year's civil unrest on Los Angeles' Latino community continues to be underestimated by the city's political and civic leaders, according to a study by the Tomas Rivera Center.

The study, released last month, also warned that improving Latino economic well-being is essential to any rebuilding effort.

A pattern of economic impoverishment was at the root of the disturbance, said Manuel J. Pastor Jr., the study's author. Failure to come up with long-term solutions to conditions of poverty and unemployment could spark more unrest, said Pastor.

"What happened in L.A. was essentially a bread riot," Pastor said. "In that sense, the economic situation is still there, the underlying conditions still exist."

Latinos made up 49% of the population in the neighborhoods most affected by the unrest, the study said. In areas where damage occurred, poverty and unemployment are twice as high, and per capita income and home ownership is half that of the rest of the city.

A lack of cohesion between Eastside residents and emerging Latino neighborhoods of South-Central Los Angeles has contributed to Latinos' relative lack of political power, Pastor said.

The report warned that tensions between African-Americans and Latinos may deepen because of scarce resources. It urged Latinos to work together with racial minorities.

"While Latino needs must be carefully defined, a program shaped by narrowly defined interests will not be viable," the study said. "Coalition efforts are pragmatic as well as consistent with the vision of a multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial city."

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