When Bill Boyarsky worked for the LA Times, he covered both the riots sparked by Rodney King and the trial of O.J. Simpson. In his latest column for truthdig.com, he considers the Trayvon Martin shooting and recent hate crimes in Tulsa, Oklahoma within the 20th anniversary context of the 1992 riots.
His conclusions are not happy ones. Although he acknowledges there are differences between the decades-separated incidents, he argues that the U.S. racial divide remains as bad as ever. Boyarsky quotes some interesting data from Rand, Gallup and Loyola Marymount, while also pointing the finger at a layer that was absent during his LA Times days:
We thought communications were fast, but compared with today, news traveled slowly and rabble-rousing nuts didn’t have the Internet to spew their venom… With racist gunslingers inspired by their Facebook and Twitter “friends,” emboldened by permissive gun laws and hating the increasing racial diversity of America, nothing has changed.
As Boyarsky reminds, more than half of those arrested by the LAPD during the 1992 riots were Latinos. That group, along with African-Americans and Asian Americans, indicate in polls that they have a much more negative view of race relations than whites.