L.A. Riots: [VIDEO] Rev. Al Sharpton Encourages Further Change
See more of ATVN's coverage of the L.A. riots here.
Though Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of a violent time in Los Angeles history, the audience of First AME Church of Los Angeles gathered to commemorate and reflect upon the beginning of the L.A. riots.
“There will be those who interpret today in many ways,” Reverend Al Sharpton, an MSNBC talk show host, said. He gave a special sermon at the church on the progress of the mending relationships in the L.A. community.
“We need not romanticize, but to be straight and candid with each other and our children. What happened to Rodney King should have never happened. And what we responded to should have never happened. Violence is not an option in fighting violence,” Sharpton said.
On April 29, 1992, violence and civil unrest erupted after four police officers were acquitted of assault charges against Rodney King, the African-American whom the Los Angeles Police Department brutally beat after a car chase.
The riots lasted nearly a week leaving 53 people dead, injuring almost 2,000 and totaling property damages of a billion dollars.
The First AME Church provided shelter during the civil unrest, and to this day, it continues to help educate Angelenos about King and the riots.
The church also recognized the mending relationships between the Korean community and the African-American community.
Pastor John Hunter introduced Star Jung, a representative from L.A.’s Korean community, who gifted the First AME Church with two wooden plaque art works that read ‘Love your Country,’ and ‘Be a light of this world.’
“It’s been 20 years, but I know [the First AME Church] has been the light of this world to the community and my prayer is that you will continue to be a light of this world,” Jung said.
Concluding the special sermon, Sharpton said while it’s important to reflect and shed light to the growing progress of reconciliation among the diverse communities in L.A., there is still much to be done.
“Still we have a gap in the education within our community. In many ways, some things have changed and some things haven’t changed,” Sharpton said. “And we cannot accept that we are where we need to be until we’ve changed, not from the top to the bottom, but from the bottom to the top.”
This story originally appeared on ATVN.org.