Not being heard,' minority groups say
LOS ANGELES - ``Let the Healing Begin'' read the hand-painted letters on the
wall of a fast-food restaurant in south central Los Angeles.
But not far away, in their own communities, Hispanic and Korean-American
residents say open wounds remain.
They say their communities are being ignored while the focus is on
predominantly black south central neighborhoods.
``Rebuild L.A. is doing a damned good job - for the blacks. But we're not being
heard,'' says Dionicio Morales of the Mexican American Opportunity
Merchants also complain that rebuilding loans are difficult - sometimes
impossible - to obtain, and officials don't always seem to care.
Yong Hong, 33, suffered $30,000 in losses when her Silvia's men's fashions in
Koreatown was looted by rioters. She paid for repairs herself.
``I had all my paperwork (prepared) for the SBA, but when I heard from my
neighbor that she was turned down I didn't even try. I was able to borrow the
money from relatives,'' Hong says.
The frustration is similar in the predominantly Hispanic Pico-Union district,
which was rundown and impoverished even before the riots.
``We're humans too, we pay taxes, and we deserve better,'' says Oscar Andrade
of El Rescate, an activist group representing the city's Central American
population. ``We lost more than 1,000 businesses in the riots, and the damage is
in the millions.''
And when Hispanic neighborhoods have gotten attention, residents say, it hasn't
always been the kind they want.
At a recent community forum in Pico-Union, longtime street vendor Riobaldo
Cabral, 60, stood up and said:
``I've been living and working in this area since 1962. Why do the police bother
me ... when the drug dealers are doing business right around the corner?''
Contributing: Jonathan Lovitt