Liberty for Some, but Not for All

Kyle Ahn, Writer

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When the law is not enforced, minorities must make their voices heard.

64 deaths, more than 1,000 buildings looted or burnt to the ground, mandatory curfews, 1,100 marines, 600 army soldiers, and 6,500 national guardsmen patrolling the streets. 

This isn’t a description of some Hollywood thriller – it’s Los Angeles exactly 27 years ago. 

This was a result of what was the likes of a racial time bomb. 

Four white LAPD officers caught on tape beating an unarmed African-American man, Rodney King, to a pulp – turning his bones to powder that needed numerous surgical procedures. 

After decades of injustice and brutality that plagued the black community since this nation was born, people thought justice would finally prevail; they were wrong.

Illustration by Jamie Doo

After a year of trial and tribulation, the jury found all four officers not guilty. 

On that day, April 29, 1992, the racial bomb exploded and continued to ensue rage until May 4, 1992. 

Now, this was 27 years ago; the internet wasn’t fast and mainstream like today and people didn’t have cameras in their pockets everyday. 

People thought that Rodney King’s assault was the first, but in reality, injustices against black people had been happening across the country.

Today, people can whip out their phones and capture anything in an instant. 

In 2016, there was Philando Castile and Alton Sterling: both unarmed black men, both shot to death, both caught on video, both broadcasted on news outlets. 

What else do they have in common? The officers that murdered them got no jail time. 

With access to news and information 24/7, Americans have seen and known of these atrocities against the black community, but people get red, nervous, and awkward when it’s talked about. 

Sorry, but we have to talk about it.

Racism has been an ongoing struggle in this country for centuries. African-Americans were enslaved from the 1600s to 1865, then they were subjected to Jim Crow laws that went up to the 1960s, and police brutality against people of color continue today.

Let’s also not forget the discrimination and massacre of Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles in the early 1900s, the mass deportation of legal Mexican migrants in the 1950s, the forced removal of Native Americans, and threats made to muslim Americans.

Hatred in the United States has been in a constant cycle. 

Whenever the cycle reaches a certain point, people take to the streets. 

However, this tactic doesn’t seem to work all the time. 

There are always people opposing protesters taking the streets, using media platforms, and even taking a knee. In the end, nothing truly changes. 

When the oppressed are being told that all the ways they can make their voices heard is wrong and nothing even changes, they unfortunately resort to rioting.

The lawless rioting often casts a gray cloud over what the true meaning and origin of the cause is, just like the Rodney King riots 27 years ago. 

Regardless of what you may think of protests in America, it has been a recurring theme that’s been ingrained in American culture.

In the 1770s, colonists in America were facing abuses and injustices from the British government. 

It was only a matter of time until the colonists reached a breaking point and resorted to full-scale revolution. 

This was all based off of an all-American document, the Declaration of Independence, where it says that if the government doesn’t stand by the rights of all men, the people should “alter or abolish” the government.

The government of the United States of America has yet to have all men created equal.It has yet to bring liberty and justice for all. It has yet to change the laws that put people of color, the LGBTQ community, women, and Muslims at the bottom rung of society.

When our government can’t stand for all of us, we have the obligation to our founding fathers: to “alter or abolish” the government to suit the United States of today and for the future. We must listen to the voices of minorities, especially when they continue to face oppression. 

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Liberty for Some, but Not for All