Los Angeles riots commemoration events


Actor, playwright and social critic Anna Deavere Smith offers a rare glimpse into the violent upheaval of the L.A. Riots. In addition to performing excerpts from her Tony-nominated one-woman play, “Twilight: Los Angeles,” Smith discusses the artistic process of looking at a critical issue from multiple perspectives as a way to open up dialogue. Presented by Facing History and Ourselves and The Allstate Foundation. Wed. 7-9 p.m. Free. Robert F. Kennedy Community High School, Cocoanut Grove Theater, 701 S. Catalina St., Los Angeles. (213) 202-2811. facinghistory.org/communityconversations.


Florence and Normandie became known as the flashpoint of the L.A. Riots. Join the discussion about the causes and impacts of the civil unrest as well as the solutions. Attendees will be divided into small discussion groups, facilitated by representatives of the L.A. City Attorney’s Dispute Resolution Program. Organized by Avis Ridley-Thomas, director of UCLA’s Institute for Non-Violence in Los Angeles. Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA) co-sponsors. Fri. 8:30 a.m. (registration and continental breakfast). 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Free. FAME Renaissance, 1968 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 346-3246. daysofdialogue.org.

L.A. artist Maggie Hazen memorializes the L.A. Riots with a mixed-media sculptural installation that evokes the plaster casts used to mend broken bones and the memory of the white ashes that remained. “Civil Space: A Transformative Memory of the 1992 Civil Unrest” features 2,000 individually crafted plaster vessels filled with basic food ingredients on a modular platform that resembles the topography of the riot-damaged area. Presented by The Museum of Tolerance, the Korean Churches for Community Development and SAIGU. Exhibition runs through May 13. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Monday-Friday), 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. (Sunday). Included with museum admission: $15.50 (adults), $12.50 (seniors), $11.50 (students with ID and children ages 5-18). Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 553-8403. museumoftolerance.com.


L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joins California Assembly Speaker John Pérez, Eddie Lee, who heads White House outreach to the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s assistant secretary John Trasvina to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the L.A. Riots with community and faith leaders. A unity march to Los Angeles Trade-Tech and vigil follows. Sponsored by SAIGU (Korean for April 29), an initiative of Korean Churches for Community Development. Seating for this event will be limited to 5,000, and priority will be given to community, faith and government partners. Sun. 3:30-6:30 p.m. Free (RSVP required). Former Grand Olympic Auditorium, 1801 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 985-1500. saigu429.com.

Iran nuclear talks reportedly scheduled for April

Six world powers and Iran reportedly have agreed to meet to discuss the Iranians’ controversial nuclear program.

Diplomats representing the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations, have insisted that a meeting is scheduled for April 13, but the location of the meeting is causing dispute among the parties, according to The Associated Press. A formal announcement has yet to be made with details of a meeting.

The diplomats told AP that they believe the venue dispute will be resolved.

The world powers include the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China—otherwise known as the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.

The news comes amid the backdrop of the Nuclear Security Summit that is being held in Seoul, South Korea.

Iran has not held discussions on its nuclear program since an abrupt end to talks among the six Western powers 14 months ago in Istanbul, Turkey.

Month of Diamonds and Demons

The birthstone for April is a diamond. In ancient Greek, the meaning of diamond is “unbreakable.” As the month begins, we look to the state of civil rights and intergroup relations in this city and are reminded that, while our bonds are strong, the diamond days of April hold many imperfections.

On April 29, 1992, Los Angeles erupted in riots after a jury acquitted four white police officers caught on home video clubbing Rodney King. Before it was over, 55 people were dead, more than 2,300 were injured and 1,100 buildings were destroyed. As we approach the 19th anniversary of the King riots, we wonder about the likelihood of another conflagration. We worry every year at this time. 

We worry because April 20 is Hitler’s birthday, a day universally celebrated by white supremacists and neo-Nazis who use the insignia “4/20” to telegraph shorthand messages of hate. We worry because April 20 also marks the 12th anniversary of the student massacre at Columbine. We worry because April 19 marks the 16th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 18th anniversary of the deadly encounter at Waco.

Every day at both the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Los Angeles Urban League, evidence comes across our desks of the socioeconomic divisions in our community, the racial rifts in our schools, the cultural divides in our dialogue. We know there are demons among us — sending messages of hate, xenophobia, homophobia, racism and anti-Semitism — and we just hope the diamonds outnumber them. 

We believe in a multifaceted approach to try to gain the upper hand in the fight against bigotry and hatred. The first component of our approach, and the area where much of our work lies, involves educational programs to reach our youth.  Both the ADL and the Urban League know that if young people are not guided properly, hate can seep into their hearts. But we also know hatred is learned and can be unlearned. The ADL’s anti-bias education programs reach preschoolers and their families, K-12 school-age youth, and college students to counteract bias and bigotry and teach respect for diversity.  The Urban League works across the lifecycle of the student, from pre-K through high school, with education initiatives that create opportunities for academic enrichment, promote healthy relationships with positive adult role models, facilitate connections with relevant career options, and encourage a supportive peer culture.

The second element is our proactive work with local law enforcement agencies, especially the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD has come a long way since 1992 and has improved in policing our diverse city and in making cultural inroads both internally and externally. In an age when civics is no longer part of the classroom curriculum, it strikes us as crucial that civilians as well as guardians of the law understand what so many have forgotten: that harmony in society depends on the compact for honesty and fairness and mutual trust that we have in our day-to-day relations with one another. This is as true for the police as for the man and woman on the street — but the police will always be held to a higher standard as they set the example for the rest of us.

Finally, as leagues working toward common goals, we build bridges among the many diverse communities in Los Angeles to foster a positive environment for open and frank discussion about topics of mutual concern. There is a common experience of blacks and Jews fighting for equal rights in this country that is sometimes overlooked; the relationship between these two groups, once characterized as allies in the civil rights struggle, now can seem relegated to the history books. 

While April holds many dates that are celebrated by those who hate, April 4 was a day of remembrance for those of us in the civil rights arena because of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At a time when racism and anti-Semitism are alive and well on the streets and on the Internet, we need to carry on Dr. King’s message about our shared history and revitalize our commitment to work together. 

The Anti-Defamation League and the Los Angeles Urban League, along with the entire civil rights community, have made substantial progress on basic issues of equality, civil rights and freedom. We have made huge strides in eliminating discrimination in employment, in education, in public accommodations and in housing. But there is still much work to be done. We go together into April with eyes wide open for the diamonds and the demons — and hope that our work together helps the community at large make the distinction between them.

This op-ed is being published simultaneously in the Los Angeles Sentinel, the largest subscriber-paid African American-owned newspaper on the West Coast.

Amanda Susskind is the regional director of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League. Blair H. Taylor is president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Urban League.

Tribe Calendar: April 2011-May 2011

Sunday, April 3

“Hearts Sing”
Today’s benefit, hosted by Paul Reiser, includes performances by Kenny G, Brooke Burke, Alan Bergman, Julia Fordham, Cantor Marcelo Gindlin and surprise guests. Money raised supports Hand in Hand, a program for children with special needs. 4 p.m. Private Malibu residence. Sponsored by Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue.
For tickets and location, contact adrienne@mjcs.org.

Passover celebration workshop for adults
This hands-on, interactive workshop led by Judy Soffer will cover topics from Passover prep and the order of the seder to choosing a haggadah and making the holiday interactive. 9-11 a.m. $15. Temple Ahavat Shalom, 18200 Rinaldi Place, Northridge. (818) 360-2258. judaicworkshops.com.

“Jews of the Pacific Coast”
Using historical photographs from the new book “Jews of the Pacific Coast: Reinventing Community at America’s Edge,” co-author Ava F. Kahn will explore the nature of the Jewish experience in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Western small towns. Light refreshments will be served. 1:30 p.m. Free. Co-sponsored by Temple Adat Elohim and the Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County. Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. (818) 889-6616. jgscv.org.

Tuesday, April 5

“The Mysticism of Sound, Meditation and Poetry”
Brain researcher Mark Robert Waldman discusses how sacred melodies and poetry have been shown to alter the structure of the brain as well as enhance memory and cognition while suppressing stress, anxiety, depression and anger. 7:30-9 p.m. Free. Part of the Hands on Music series. Valley Beth Shalom, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 788-6000. vbs.org.

Women’s Seder
Enjoy a seder by Rabbi Alyson Solomon and Cantor Judy Karin and a catered meal. Co-sponsored by Hadassah, the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Hillel. 5:30-7:30 p.m. $25 (general), $15 (students). Congregation B’nai B’rith, 1000 San Antonio Creek Road, Santa Barbara. (805) 964-7869. cbbsb.org.

Thursday, April 7

Sixth annual Santa Barbara Jewish Film Festival
Four days of Jewish films include “The Matchmaker,” “Jews & Baseball: An American Love Story,” “Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Godberg,” and “Lemon Tree.” Event runs through April 10. $12 (single ticket), $125 (eight screenings, breakfast and gala dinner). Sponsored by the Jewish Film Foundation. Tonight’s gala is located at La Cumbre Country Club, 4015 Via Laguna, Santa Barbara. (805) 964-5577. jewishfilmfoundation.org. (See story, Page 28)

Saturday, April 9

“The Producers”
It’s the funniest scam ever put to music. Find out why the Mel Brooks show about the worst play ever produced on Broadway (“Springtime for Hitler”), won more Tony Awards than any other musical. Runs through April 17. 2 and 8 p.m. $34-$80. Fred Kavli Theatre, Bank of America Performing Arts Center, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. (800) 745-3000. theaterleague.com.

Sunday, April 10

Fifth annual Walk to End Genocide
Join a community committed to ending the genocide in Darfur, building a stable Sudan and resolving the conflict in Congo. Jewish World Watch’s three-mile walk for all ages is followed by an awareness fair and silent auction. 8 a.m. (registration), 9 a.m. (walk begins). Free (children 11 and younger), $18 (early registration), $20 (on site).  Starts at Warner Center Park, 5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 501-1836. Register at walktoendgenocide.org.

Sunday, April 17

Blood and bone marrow drive
Take a short break from your Passover preparations to save a life. All participants will receive two tickets for the Laugh Factory, Grammy Museum and L.A. Galaxy and can enter a drawing for a chance to win free movies for a year. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Temple Ramat Zion, 17655 Devonshire St., Northridge. To make an appointment, call (818) 993-4013. trz.org.

Monday, April 18

Celebrate Passover with Camp Ramah
Forget cooking and cleaning for Pesach and spend the holiday in Ojai. Daily activities for all ages, including yoga, tennis, massage, hiking and programs led by scholar-in-residence Rabbi Shawn Fields-Meyer. Bring your family and enjoy food, fun, learning and relaxation. Through April 27 (partial stays available). (310) 476-8571. ramah.org.

Thursday, April 21

Genocide prevention
Professor Robert Melson, professor emeritus of political science and a member of the Jewish studies department at Purdue University, leads a roundtable discussion on genocide prevention with other scholars and the filmmakers behind the documentary, “The Last Survivor.” Melson testified before the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights concerning the Armenian Genocide. 4 p.m. Free. Sponsored by the Glazer Institute. Kresge Reading Room, Payson Library, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. (310) 506-4786. pepperdine.edu.

Saturday, April 30

“Musical of Musicals (The Musical)”
This long-running off-Broadway hit is a melting pot of musical bliss that references (and parodies) a who’s who of Jewish musical theater composers: Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, and Kander & Ebb. Through May 8. 8 p.m. $12-$15. Dow Arena Theatre, Pierce College Performing Arts Theater, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills. (818) 719-6488. piercecollege.edu.