How Armed Koreans Beat Back Rioters

The nation's largest Korean-American community is grim, armed and determined to repel racial violence in its riot-scarred corner of the city.

 

A vigilante Korean security force, wearing white scarves, is patrolling the burned and looted shops of Koreatown, the economically vibrant enclave just north of the sad streets of South-Central Los Angeles, where black and Hispanic residents struggle with poverty and crime.

 

Today, with an uneasy peace settling over the city after hundreds of their businesses were destroyed, the Koreans stood armed inside their shattered store windows.

 

The shopkeepers voiced outrage at the slow response of the police when their community came under attack Wednesday night and Thursday. And they expressed despair over the sudden destruction of American success stories that had taken lifetimes to build.

 

"Why did it happen?" said Carl Rhyu, a member of the community's security force. "That's a good question."

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