LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Her name was Latasha Harlins and her death 30 years ago was as consequential as the Rodney King beating. Anger over both events contributed to the tension that exploded into the LA Riots in 1992.
On the 30th anniversary of the 15-year-old girl’s death, her family and community remembered her at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center playground, which is being renamed in her honor.READ MORE: 3 Children Stabbed To Death In Reseda Apartment; Mother Captured In Central California After Going On The Run
“This is a place where we called our sanctuary,” Vestor Acoff, Latasha’s brother, said. “You know, where we used to walk, played our sports here.”
Latasha was shot to death on March 16, 1991, over a bottle of orange juice in her backpack. The Korean store clerk told police Latasha was going to steal the orange juice, but police investigators later said Latasha had the money for it still clutched in her hand. Soon Ja Du was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to probation and community service, and ordered to pay restitution and funeral expenses.READ MORE: Historic Flight Of NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Postponed Several Days Due To Technical Issue
Tensions were already high from the televised beating of Rodney King just a couple of weeks prior on March 3, 1991. Anger and outrage at her death fed the flames that ultimately led to the LA Riots, which ended with 63 dead and more than $1 billion in damage to Koreatown and South LA.
“Here we are right now, 30 years after, and we have Breonna, we have Floyd, and we can do a roll call, right? The nation hasn’t learned anything,” Latasha’s uncle, David Bryant, said.
The city renamed the playground at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center in South LA for the slain teenage girl, whose face was also immortalized in a mural looking out on the playground, alongside a hand-written quote attributed to her:MORE NEWS: 6-Year-Old Boy Wounded After Gunfire Erupts At Sun Valley Apartment Complex; Female Suspect Sought
“I am very reliable and trustworthy, honest. I have a lot of talent and I know whatever I set my mind on something I can accomplish. I show people I care by giving what I have to people who actually need it.”