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Questions on Urban Studies
Question Two
Hurricane Katrina is one of the worst terrible storms that ever hit the United States of America. The cyclone originated from the Bahamas and was a result of a tropical wave and the tropical depression ten. In comparison to the Katrina, Andrew and the Okeechobee Hurricane, Hurricane Katrina killed more people and caused the damage of property worth $108 million (Elliott and Pais 297). The aftermath of the hurricane was worse than the storm itself. The people affected claimed that the government of the United States of America was taking too long to meet the needs of the people. Huge branches caused flooding in various areas, and the storm displaced hundreds of families. The paper focuses on establishing the influence of racism and class in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and riots. It will also compare and contrast the riots and the aftermath of the disaster.
The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina resulted in a heated debate to determine if it was racial or class oriented. According to witnesses, the majority of individuals and families left behind during the evacuations were African-American and other coloured families. Rescue teams responded to the white neighbourhoods, then headed to the African-American neighbourhoods (Elliott and Pais 300). As such, many complained that the actions were racist. The people also accused the media of focusing on the damage and evacuation processes in the white populated areas than in other areas.

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On the other hand, most of the people who had the capability of relocating from the hit area had higher chances than those from low-income families. A difference in financial resources creates social classes and determines the vulnerability to the disaster (Elliott and Pais 315). The financial capability also allowed well off families to recover from the effects of the hurricane. Experts and political scientists, however, state that it is illogical to use racism as the reason some people could not make it out of the disaster in time. They added that it was a poorly structured political strategy, which failed in the end.
Urban studies also focus on the different riots that take place and their effects on the society and the economy. Just like the Hurricane Katrina, racial and class issues can plague the riots and cause more damage than intended. First, it segregates the participants of the riots and creates rival groups by default. Each racial group, for example, hates on the other, and a slight insult or push can easily escalate the fights (Elliott and Pais 320). The retaliation is as a result of the need to defend one’s people and to make a stand, which demands its respect. Racism is the most common reason for riots, especially if the initial aggressors are of a different colour of skin (Elliott and Pais 318).
Even if the initial cause of disagreement had nothing to do with variation of skin colour, it would be so soon. Racism is the most common alternative in a case where there is no logical reason left to argue or riot. In other cases, if the initial aggressors are of different financial backgrounds, then the riot can turn into a class issue. The disadvantaged participants may claim they are under oppression by the rich, and they intend to have their voices heard. Both the riots in the United States of America and Hurricane Katrina have similarities and differences, which the paper expounds on next.
The first similarity between the two is that both the riots and the aftermath of the disaster consist of damaged property. During a riot, there is damage to parked cars and a lot of broken glass from nearby windows. There is also burning of buildings, tires, and cloth, which create dark fumes that pollute the air. In the aftermath of Katrina, the ruins of buildings and roads were a common sight in the hard-hit areas. In short, both comprise of the destruction of urban design and buildings (Pulido 15). Another similarity is that the aftermath and the riots have to deal with the death of innocent civilians and ensuring the safety of the remnants and survivors.
The hurricane caused the death of over 1,200 people while a terrible riot can lead to the death of a few people as well. Both of the events also call for the government to provide answers and help to the people. Urban diversity is evident in the aftermath of the hurricane as well as the riots. It can be regarding culture, class, or race as described above. Both events affect all cultures equally since, in most urban areas, there is the presence of multicultural communities. Finally, both of them provide students in the urban studies program to understand more about the communities involved and develop approaches to developing the necessary reconstructive policies required (Elliott and Pais 321).
On the other hand, there are differences between the riots and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. First, anger is the primary emotion in riots while desperation in the hurricane’s aftermath. The anger in the riots is due to the feeling of oppression by a party they feel proving superior. On the other hand, the survivors of the disaster are constantly appealing to the government for assistance. Another distinction between them is that the aftermath requires reconstructive policies while most riots require urban political policies.

Concisely, Hurricane Katrina is one of the worst storms that hit the United States of America. It led to over 1,200 deaths and damage of $108 million worth of property. Racism and class were evident in the aftermath of the catastrophe. Witnesses and survivors claim that the government and rescue teams focused on the white neighbourhoods. Others claim that the survival chances depended on the financial capability. Both riots and the aftermath of the disaster resulted in the damage of urban design and buildings and had a common characteristic of urban diversity. The difference, on the other hand, is that the solution to the riots is political policies while the aftermath of Katrina requires reconstructive policies.
Question Three
On the third day of March 1991, four white police officers engaged in a high-speed car chase with Rodney King, an African-American man, who was on parole for robbery with violence. Eventually, the pursuit came, to a halt, and the four police officers began to beat King as soon as he alighted from the vehicle. A man living in the neighbourhood took a video of the incident and leaked it to the media. April 29, 1992, saw the arrest and sentence of the four police officers whom the court charged with brutality against Rodney King. It was after this that numerous riots ensued throughout Los Angeles. In general, the riots were the worst that the United States witnessed and the biggest in Los Angeles. They comprised of looting, arson, and general civil fracas (Jr. and Johnson 338). The essay will illuminate the debate as to whether the 1992 Los Angeles riots had a basis of racism or urban rebellion with class and economic foundations. It will also discuss some of the policies and political solutions to the riots, which apply to date.

Twenty years after the riots, the corporate media in the United States of America still state that the Los Angeles (L.A) riots were purely racial. They also add that there is a general improvement in the police force and the affected community. After a close study of the Robert King case, it is easy to understand why it would be thought to have a racial bias. The white police officers brutally assaulted Robert, an unarmed man. According to the evidential video, King attempted to stand up, but the officers kept him down and only handcuffed him when he became motionless (Jr. and Johnson 342). However, the officers argued otherwise stating that King tried to fight them. Another racial concern was the consistency of the people during the judicial hearing. The majority of the jury were white people and only one mixed race man. The judge was white, and the prosecutor was the only African-American person in the room. It is advisable to have equality of the selection of the jury, but that was not the case.

The majority of the protestors in the riots were African-American and a few Hispanics. It only goes to show that the people of colour were under the impression that the white folk were oppressing their kind, and thus the riots were a way to fight back and have their voices heard. Finally, the rioters believed that there was a plan to ensure that the court dismissed the case by desensitising the jury. The defence team replayed the evidential video in slow motion attempting to detach the jury from an emotional connection to the case, as such, providing the police officers a chance at winning the case. The riots were waiting to happen even during, the trials, and the verdict would determine the people’s reaction. The above reasons portray the reasons why the 1992 Los Angeles riots would be termed as racial riots; however, there is a reason to disagree as well (Jr. and Johnson 348).
For some people such as Professor Torres, the L.A riots were not Race riots, but urban rebellions influenced by class and economic foundations. From a personal perspective, there are various reasons to support that urban rebellion was the basis of the riots. First, compared to the countryside, urban areas have the tendency of group theory. It refers to the situation where people act out because other people are doing the same. The more people get hurt; the more the crowd charges up. There is also influence from the political ties from the government (Jr. and Johnson 350). The politicians influence a reaction and then jump in to create a solution and have themselves crowned the hero. People with more money tend to influence those without and during the worsening of the riot they can move, relocate their families out of the area or pay their bail.

After comparing the debates that support racism and urban rebellion, racism holds a stronger argument. The argument for it is that there is a lot of clear evidence such as the evidence. Urban rebellion holds meaning only to a small extent. As such, the government can employ various policies and political solutions to solve the problem. The first step is by eliminating environmental racism that is evident through white privileges. The white and coloured neighbourhoods require merging to eliminate the mentality of segregation. Urban development in the marginalized areas is also a rational policy that allows the disadvantaged people to live proper lifestyles and improve their economic empowerment. It is also advisable to involve the politicians down to the grassroots to show concern for the marginalized population (Pulido 30).
Concisely, in 1991, four white police officers brutalized Rodney King and unarmed man as he was getting out of a car after a high-speed car chase with the police. After the arrest and trials of the four police officers, riots ensued in Central Los Angeles, which led to the death of people and damage to property. The riots may have been racial since most of the protestors were African-American and Hispanics. More evidence shows that the jury during the trial was primarily white folk, who were emotionally detached from the evidential video. On the other hand, the root of the riots may have been urban rebellion. However, racism holds a stronger argument. Policies such as urban development and elimination of environmental racism can prevent riots such as those in 1991 from taking place again.

Works Cited
Elliott, James R. and Jeremy Pais. “Race, class, and Hurricane Katrina: Social differences in human responses to disaster.” Social Science Research (2006): 295-321. Document.
Jr., Walter C. Farrell and James H. Johnson. “Structural Violence as an Inducement to African American and Hispanic Participation in the Los Angeles Civil Disturbance of 1992.” Journal of the Human Behaviour in the Social Environment (2001): 337-359. Document.
Pulido, Laura. “Rethinking Environmental Racism: White Privilege and Urban Development in Southern California.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers (2000): 12-40. Document.

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