More than 200 liquor stores, many Asian-owned, were destroyed during the riots, visible symbols in the eyes of many locals of a substance abuse epidemic that fostered crime, loitering and suffering in South Central L.A. Francis Fikes, a Community Coalition member, remembers the group’s efforts to block the rebuilding of most of the liquor stores. "I was glad to be involved in getting rid of some of those liquor stores,” she says, recalling how panhandlers from an establishment located near her church would actually come in and interrupt services. “Give us some drug stores, some more banks, give us a food place where we can go in and sit down and eat…but we’re not able to buy nothing in our community. I would love to see it more safe, but I don’t know, the only thing we can do is to continue to pray and continue doing what we’re doing.”
Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.