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December 15, 1993

Urban Violence in Los Angeles in the Aftermath of the Riots: A Perspective From Health Care Professionals, With Implications for Social Reconstruction

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Emergency Medicine (Drs Shoemaker, Hardin, and Ordog), the Department of Psychiatry (Dr James), and the office of the vice president (Dr King), King/Drew Medical Center and the Charles R. Drew University of Health and Science, Los Angeles, Calif.

JAMA. 1993;270(23):2833-2837. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510230071038

Beginning April 29, 1992, Los Angeles, Calif, was engulfed in a 3-day insurrection reflecting the residents' responses to a legal ruling. Unlike the media-painted picture, this article argues that the enormous outburst of violence and consequential property destruction was not the exclusive domain of the citizens of South-Central Los Angeles and that available data will not support the maintenance of the prevailing uneven distribution of civic and state resources in health care, educational programs, and economic opportunities. What it does support is the proposal for a more equitable allocation of resources among institutions, groups, and peoples, complemented by community empowerment, a more civic-oriented police operation, and a more rational approach to social reconstruction in which all elements of the society are full participants. Finally, the article suggests that augmentation of the present "law and order" approach and the paramilitary police already have proven economically ineffective. Given the dominant role of the medical profession in social and civic life, it is now appropriate for the medical profession to enter the debate on policies of health improvement, violence deterrence, and the general field of social reconstruction.

(JAMA. 1993;270:2833-2837)