I was recently asked this question...here is my response:

My basic argument is that the only thing that changed has been the crime rates and demographics of South Central. Crime is down significantly since 1992. It is about 1/3 of what it was in term of raw homicide numbers. Also, South Central is by far a majority Latino area now. It was much "Blacker" in 1992.

The basic causes of the the riots are unchanged though. To understand this, the causes of the riot must be understood.

Some have described the LA Riots as a race riot or as an expression of Black rage. There is some truth to this, but only in how the riots started. The Black community of Los Angeles has had an ongoing battle with the LAPD since large numbers of Blacks began to come to LA in the 1940s. The cause of the Watts Riots centered around police brutality in the handling of Marquette Frye during a routine DUI arrest. The 1980s saw some of the most racist policing in LA since the '40s and '50s when the police supported white gangs such as the Spook Hunters. Darryl Gates famously said that Black men are not "normal" and that is why so many were killed by police in baton strangle holds. Additionally, the justice system as a whole did not work for Black people in South Central. When LaTasha Harlins, a 15-year-old girl was killed by a storekeeper in a liquor store, the murderer was given a $500 fine and probation. It was within this context that Rodney King, born in Sacramento, and raised in Pasadena (not near South Central) was beat by the LAPD in the San Fernando Valley. As Mike Davis has said before, it was finally caught on tape, and justice could not be denied. But when it was, and the police were found "not guilty," rioting did erupt infamously on Florence and Normandie, most notably with the beating of Reginald Denny by Damian Williams. This is the extent to which it was a Black riot. After this, rioting took off throughout the Los Angeles area in addition to riots in other cities, such as Oakland, San Francisco, and Chicago.

In fact, 52% of those arrested during the riots were Latinos (38% were Black, 12% were white and others). MacArthur Park, a hot bed of murder and drugs, and a majority immigrant Latino neighborhood, also rioted. Class more than race was the determining factor in the rage of the riots. Diapers were the most stolen item during the riots. This shows that people were first meeting basic needs.

Furthermore, much of the rage was in due to outside forces. For example, problems such as the Crack Epidemic, were as much a result of the CIA turning a blind eye to drug money being funneled to Nicaragua as it was people in South Central using the drugs. Gary Webb documents in his book, Dark Alliance, the role the CIA played in the start of the Crack Epidemic. Gangs that had festered for years were partly a result of the FBI completely crushing social movements in the late 1960s and early 1970s. For example, the FBI worked with the LAPD to infiltrate and destroy the Black Panthers of LA, ending in the destruction of their offices on Central Ave. This is not to say that the community has no responsibility in this, only to point out that much of the struggle that exist here was encouraged by outside forces.

Much of those problems still exist today. The ACLU has designated LA County prison as one of the most violent in the country, primarily due to guards and police openly beating prisoners. Police shootings continue, with at least 3 of the 4 projects in Watts experiencing an officer-involved homicide in the last year. Education continues to be a "hit or miss" effort. Although some grassroots changes are taking place, students still receive a sub-standard education if they make it to graduation. Joblessness is and has been a continued problem. Unemployment stands at about 16% for Latinos and 18% for Blacks. This does not count those that are disabled, have given up, or never tried. It has been estimated to be between 25-30% realistically.

The recent "debt-ceiling" debate shows that politicians are unwilling to spend money for domestic reforms. That leaves it up to the people here to make a difference. Many young people today are choosing not to be involved in the streets or in drugs. Many are trying to do something different and substantial with their lives, and many will make it. But, as a community, we must strive to make a different to change South Central, Los Angeles.