The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins: Justice, Gender, and the Origins of the LA Riots
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013
The Rodney King Riot is now more than two decades past. With such distance, it is possible to examine the riot and see what the long-term effects really were. The conflict started on the afternoon of April 29, 1992, after the four white Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers who had been filmed beating the riot’s eponymous black motorist were acquitted by a Simi Valley jury. However, the Rodney King Riot was really the culmination of black-Korean racial and social tensions that shifted into high gear when a Korean woman, Soon Ja Du, shot a teenaged black girl, Latasha Harlins, in the back of the head over a petty assault and on suspicion of shoplifting. Soon Ja Du was given a minimal sentence with no jail time by Judge Joyce Karlin after Du was found guilty in a racially-charged trial. University of California, Los Angeles historian Prof. Brenda E. Stevenson explores the intersecting lives of the Korean shopkeeper, Soon Ja Du, the deceased Latasha Harlins, and the Jewish judge, Joyce Karlin, in this excellent book.