Fractious History

From the Chinese Massacre of 1871 to recent unrest on high school campuses, some moments in the city’s past are among its most troubled hours
Chinese Massacre The lynchings of 18 Asians in an area known as Negro Alley (above) follow the killing of a white rancher caught in Chinese gang crossfire. The reprisals are also fueled by anger that the immigrants are taking jobs from whites in the poor postwar economy.
Zoot Suit Riots White servicemen stationed in L.A. question the patriotism of flamboyantly dressed Mexican Americans, dubbing them “pachucos.” Over several days off-duty military personnel beat anyone wearing the attire, leaving at least 150 injured. 
Watts Riots
Six days of violence triggered by a black motorist’s forcible arrest end with 34 deaths and more than $40 million in property damage. A report ordered by Governor Pat Brown points to high unemployment, poor schools, and inferior living conditions as the roots of the unrest.  
Chicano Moratorium
Thirty thousand gather at an East L.A. park to protest the high number of Latinos drafted and killed in Vietnam. As police try to disperse the crowd, fighting breaks out and three people are killed, including journalist Rubén Salazar.
L.A. Riots
The acquittal of the LAPD officers charged in the Rodney King beating inflames a community bitter over the 1991 shooting death of an African American teenager, Latasha Harlins, by a Korean store owner. Damage reaches nearly $1 billion and 53 people die.
May Day Melee
Thousands assemble in MacArthur Park to protest immigration policy. Police reacting to thrown bottles fire rubber bullets into the crowd, injuring dozens. In 2009, the L.A. City Council pays $13 million to settle several lawsuits.
Locke High School Race Riot
Scores of LAPD officers are sent to the South L.A. campus to break up a brawl involving nearly 600 Latino and African American students. It is the worst day of fighting in an escalation of racial tensions at LAUSD and Compton schools. 

Photographs by (from left): Los Angeles Public Library; Anthony Potter Collection/Getty Images; Csu Archives/Alamy; David Fenton/Getty Images; Ted Soqui; Lhb/Alamy; Luis Sinco/ Los Angeles Times