No Justice

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S1: A quick warning, this episode has some explicit language. Latasha Harlins was nine years old when her mother was shot and killed in a Los Angeles nightclub. It was November 1985 Thanksgiving Day

S2: when her mother got killed. She took a real heart.

S1: That’s Latasha cousin, Shanese Harlins Kilgore.

S2: She was her cause than her father live. And that was the last time I believe that she seen her father,

S1: Latasha and her family hoped her mother’s killer would be found guilty of murder and spent her life in prison instead. The woman was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to five years. The justice system had failed them. The Harlins family was learning that life in L.A. wasn’t so different from the one they had fled in East St. Louis. In her book The Last Plantation, the author Itabari injury described their plight this way.

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S3: There was death in the family. It plagued. There’s like cancer, heart attack, diabetes or stroke in other families. It was not the consequence of some deadly pathogen or organic breakdown, but seemed a disease unto itself. Unnatural, violent death.

S1: Sasha’s grandmother, Ruth Harlins, had suffered a lot of these losses. The father of one of her daughters was killed. One brother died in a car accident. Two others were killed in bars. One of the same Thanksgiving Day that another of her daughters, Latasha Mss mother, was fatally shot in L.A.. But Ruth Harlins managed to build a decent life in California, working as a clerk for the Department of Social Services.

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S3: There is something about her I just remember was very gentle and loving and tired. She seemed to be carrying so much weight.

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S1: Generational weight Ruth Harlins helped to raise Latasha and her siblings after their mother’s death. She tried to give her family the peace it never had. There were three adults and four children living in the Harlins home. It was crowded. Ruth Harlins did her best to provide for them on $6500 a month. SHINee’s Harlins Killgore.

S2: She used to always put that out there in an atmosphere. Family, family, family, family is important. Family is all we got at the end of the day.

S1: Ruth Harlins Houghton lived in the South since she was a child, but she still considered herself a southern woman. She made big family meals of ham, collard greens, cabbage, potato salad and cornbread. The food reminded her of home and helped to bring everyone together. She worked in Save so she could move into a three bedroom apartment in South Central L.A., a huge upgrade for the family. But even with the extra space, her grandchildren continued to share bedrooms.

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S2: It was like, Wow, we got this big space, but we still couldn’t go without sleeping with each other, I guess. I guess we was used to it. So growing up to me, we had a ball. We just knew we can go outside and play all fucking day and come back home before the streetlights come on.

S1: Ruth Harlins insisted on routines and chores. Her work ethic and resilience would be her grandchildren’s inheritance,

S2: so we know to make sure that the dishes was washed, the floor was mopped, the kitchen was clean because the way she raised us was you wake up, you brush your teeth, you wash your face and you get dressed. You don’t lounge all day and not do not know you get up because nobody don’t want to talk to somebody with a funky ass breath, she was say.

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S1: Latasha thrived in Ruth Harlins, a safe and supportive home in middle school. She was an honor roll student, a track star and a cheerleader. Every Sunday, she went to church with her grandmother as she entered her teen years. Latasha was a popular girl who knew all the latest dances, flirted easily with boys and stood up for the people she loved. Her family encouraged her to pursue her ambitions. The people who knew her best could see her potential.

S2: She wanted to be an attorney so bad because I know her mom wanted to be a real estate agent and that’s what she was studying for. So I think she had that same charisma, that same. Go get it attitude. Like her mom,

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S1: but her mother’s death and the way the justice system had failed, the family still cast a shadow. In an essay for her ninth grade history class, Latasha explained why she wanted to become an attorney. The most important thing to me, she wrote, is that my family is always protected by a shield so that they won’t be harmed by dangerous, ruthless, uncaring people.

S4: She was so, you know, devastated by the sentencing of her mother’s killer that she wanted to make sure that this didn’t happen again.

S1: That’s Brenda Stevenson, an author in African-American studies professor at UCLA.

S4: She wanted to be able to protect her family from this kind of injustice. She realized that the criminal justice system failed black families. So incredibly,

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S1: as a high school freshman in 1991, Latasha Harlins had a vision of our future, but the present day was a struggle. Her high school was far from her neighborhood. That meant an hour long bus ride each way, sometimes more. Her grade slipped. She cut class, and when she did go to school, she got in trouble. The dean of students called her a teacher’s nightmare. Latasha told her grandmother she’d try harder and improve her grades. She vowed to graduate with a perfect GPA and to go to college, but her family still worried about her. How do you think the world saw Tasha?

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S2: Another another black girl. Yeah, just another black girl. Not not knowing where she came from or who she is. So, of course, it’s a lot of stereotype going, Oh, so she was just a regular normal black girl, just like me. You know, they’re struggling.

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S1: Despite her struggles, those close to the Latasha say she was always the same person.

S2: One of my friend girls named Wanda and I didn’t know she knew my cousin. This, she told me the story that she was Latasha used to walk me home every day and she used to comb my hair and I’m like, at 40, she called me somebody else’s hair besides minds. At 14, she had literally of a 14 year old looking at her and she would walk them or comb the hair or protect them in any kind of way. And you were like, Wow. Tasha was my defender, like she would come in to feed me all the time because I was small and I was get bullied a lot and she hated me getting bullied. She hate bully, period.

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S1: The Empire Liquor Market was a five minute walk from the Harlins family’s apartment. Despite the name, it was more of a convenience store than a liquor store. It was run by a family of Korean immigrants. They hadn’t been in the neighborhood for long, but already had a reputation for being hostile to their black customers. SHINee’s would only go there if a grandmother asked her to.

S2: They were some rude assholes, and I got to admit it. You know, the couple of times I did go on there, I just refuse to go in there again because you’re not going to stereotype me and take my money.

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S1: But Latasha would still go to the Empire liquor market. On the morning of March 16th, 1991, she went for the last time. This is slow burn. I’m your host, Joel Anderson. In March 1991, two acts of violence rocked Los Angeles. Both were caught on videotape. Both revealed the fault lines of race, of money and of power among the city’s nine million people, and both would make clear to the city’s black residents just how little their lives matter to the justice system. One was the beating of Rodney King, the other was what happened to Latasha Harlins at the Empire Liquor Market.

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S5: The case that won’t go away grew from an argument in an obscure market in South Los Angeles. This was such a stunning miscarriage of justice. It’s a racial political legal mess. There are some beginning efforts at peacemaking, but there is an anger that wants redress and might not wait much longer. This is episode

S6: two. No justice.

S1: The owner of the Empire Liquor Market was named Billy Do he and his wife, Sujata, had immigrated to the U.S. from South Korea before coming to the States. The Deuce had been living well by the standards of post-war Korea, but they wanted something more for their three children. So like a lot of middle class Koreans, in the 1970s, they headed the Los Angeles part of a wave of immigration that would make L.A. home to the largest Korean population in America. For the dues, life in California was a struggle. They could only afford a small apartment and Billy’s limited English. Many couldn’t find the sort of management work he’d done back home. Eventually, he got a job as a repairman at a Radio Shack. But the money Billy earned wasn’t enough for the family to live on. So soon, John went to work, too. She assembled couches and crocheted clothes in a garment factory. The goal was to go into business on their own. Following the example of other Korean immigrants, the gravitated to corner grocery stores, a business that you could start with a little money and operate without speaking much English. Here’s Elaine Kim, a founding member of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of California, Berkeley.

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S7: A lot of people felt they had no way of advancing themselves in the white society, except by doing business for themselves. That would be the only way that their own work would result in some benefit to themselves and not to somebody else.

S1: In 1980s Los Angeles, there were plenty of properties available for relatively cheap. That was especially true in inner city neighborhoods, which it largely been abandoned by Jewish shopkeepers after the racial unrest of the late 1960s. In 1981, Billy bought a grocery store in San Fernando, a middle class area that was rapidly losing its white population. The dues were small business owners. Now they gained some control of their economic destiny. But it wasn’t an easy life. Soon, Joel worked in the store dutifully but begrudgingly, almost every day she developed chronic migraines. Still, Billy pressed forward. In 1987, he sold the first store and bought another in the nearby suburb of Santa Clarita. Their son, Joseph, worked in the market. Another son was a supervisor at Korean Airlines, and their daughter was studying to become a nurse. Billion soon, jobs moved into a four bedroom home in the San Fernando Valley. Soon, Zhao filled the house with black lacquer and mother of pearl furniture from Korea. Things were looking up. In March 1989, Billy Do decided to expand his business. He bought the Empire Liquor Market in south central Los Angeles. It cost three hundred and eighty thousand dollars. That’s about $840000 today. It was the first time The Deuce had operated a store in a largely black neighborhood. Each day, they commute to the inner city from the suburbs. Here’s Elaine Kim again.

S7: You do have a potentially explosive situation where this foreigner seems to have come into the community and is able to buy the place where they or anybody else wanted it or not. And that’s for lots of reasons. But people don’t don’t want to be taking advantage of

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S1: black Americans still face discrimination when they tried to buy property or borrow money to start a business. The fact that recent Asian immigrants were able to invest in black neighborhoods when they couldn’t. That was incredibly frustrating. Why are you open

S2: to one that that we can do for our family? Go back to Korea, where no one making you hire black?

S1: The violence of these neighborhoods only inflamed the tensions, and the 1980s, the gang related killings of Los Angeles reached record highs and became the subject of national panic over the course of a month in 1986 for Korean merchants in South Central L.A. were murdered during robberies. The sister of one of the victims suggested racial resentment was a factor. People don’t care, she told the L.A. Times. They think we got money from God or something. Some Korean and black leaders tried to downplay the racial element of the attacks. They said the murders reflected Koreans growing presence in the city’s worst area for crime. They pointed out that when black people were killed in South Central, it didn’t draw nearly as much attention or media coverage, but something still had to be done.

S8: The goal was to develop a model for facilitating dialogue and improve relations between two communities.

S1: That’s Edward Chang, a professor at UC Riverside and member of Los Angeles. Is Black Korean Alliance, commonly known as the B.K.

S8: were in the beginning. The premise here is that, you know, the reason why we are having this conflict is because we don’t understand each other. However, the membership was small about 20 at the most 30, and membership was unstable and fluctuated, and it was difficult to forge a common agenda.

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S1: Other local activists weren’t interested in building bridges. Did you think that the B.K., like, served any real purpose, or did you think it was useful in any way?

S9: I did not.

S1: That’s Danny Bakewell. He was one of LA’s most prominent black activists and businessmen. People urged him to join the Black Korean alliance, but he declined.

S9: It was. It was in my judgment. It was a hollow attempt to do something that really wasn’t beneficial for black people because it. Asked us to go into an alliance with Koreans. But the alliance was all based on helping them to do business better in the black community. What about an alliance that helps us to open up businesses in the Korean community? Never a conversation, and that’s always the problem that we have.

S1: It seemed the tension in South Central wasn’t going to get better any time soon.

S8: I knew you was a ticking time bomb. No, just getting worse and worse.

S1: By the time Billy Do bought the new store in South Central, soon Ojodu wanted out. She begged her husband to buy a house close to the beach, where she said they could spend quiet days fishing. Billy brushed off his wife’s concerns. He believed the store was a good investment. Their son, Joseph, felt the same. This was Los Angeles. Joseph Do said. How bad could it be? When the Dew family opened a store in South Central, they struggled to adjust to the new customers. Here’s Edward Chang, one customer.

S8: African-American customers walks into the store. Now you’re supposed to make eye contact and greet. Hello, how are you? What can I do for you? However, in Korea, they don’t do that. They do not make eye contact. If you do make eye contact, it is shown a sign of just respect or trying to make a trouble. And of course, many African-American customers took it offensively, right?

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S1: One thing most Korean immigrants did pick up on was the racial hierarchy of their new homeland. A study at the time found that most Korean shopkeepers in L.A. felt black people were inferior to them and weren’t worthy of courtesy or respect. Here’s Elaine Kim.

S7: So they were kind of aspiring towards upward mobility, and many of them they wanted to move as far away from black people as possible. So success would mean, well, if I want to get ahead, obviously I have to live in a community close to white people or with white people

S1: with two stores, one in Santa Clarita and the Empire Liquor Market in South Central. The dew family was spread thin instead of living her dream of a peaceful life and a beach house. Soon, Joel was stuck working behind a counter. Making things worse. Really, Deuce investment wasn’t paying off, the Empire liquor market didn’t make as much money as expected. The family bounced checks and some distributors stopped making deliveries to the store. But most damaging was the family’s beef with the Main Street Crips. Here’s Brenda Stevenson, the UCLA professor and author.

S4: There were gangs that were operative in the neighborhood. It was during the crack epidemic and it had serious impact on that community.

S1: In early 1991, three suspected gang members assaulted Joseph two and robbed the store. The duo called the police and the men were arrested. That only escalated the conflict. The Crips returned to the store and threatened to kill the family. The duo shut down the market for two weeks, hoping to calm things down. Billy Do even tried to broker a truce with the Crips. It didn’t work.

S4: Unfortunately, her son and her husband had been victimized to a certain extent by some people who would come into the shop. And so that does fit into the mythology of black criminality that they arrived with.

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S1: Billy Du’s wife and son begged him to close the store, but he couldn’t find someone to buy the market at the price he wanted. So they stayed in south, central, in a neighborhood they feared. With neighbors they didn’t trust. Let’s go through what happened on March 16th, 1991. What happened that day?

S4: Well, Latasha goes to into the Empire Liquor market at about 9:30 one a.m.

S1: when Latasha walked into the store. Soon, Seidu was working the counter. Her husband, Billy, was sleeping outside in the family’s van. A surveillance camera inside the store recorded what happened next.

S4: She comes into the shop, she walks to the back of the shop and she gets a bottle of orange juice, which is about a dollar and seventy nine cents. I believe that was the price of it. She places it in her backpack. She has a backpack on, is sticking out the top, you know, and then she works her way back to the counter.

S1: In the video, Latasha is wearing a UCLA cap and sneakers. Soon, Shadow’s son had warned her that people who wore clothes like Latasha Mss were gang members. Two witnesses later testified that soon Ojodu confronted Latasha

S4: when she gets up to the counter. She is admittedly accused by Mrs. Du, who is the wife of the shopkeeper as steely and Latasha tells her right away, I’m not stealing. You know, she has the money, which is two dollars in her hand.

S1: Soon, JDU wasn’t satisfied. In the video, you can see her lean over the counter and grab the left sleeve of Latasha sweater. Latasha slaps away, do sand do, holds on to the sleeve and tries to pull Latasha closer. At this point, you see two younger children move toward the door. The conflict is escalating. Latasha swings her backpack at do head and follows up with two hard punches to her face, do falls behind the counter, then gets back up. She tucks a stool at Latasha. The stool misses, then do reaches behind the counter and pulls out a gun. She points it up, Latasha, clutching it with both hands.

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S4: Latasha sees the gun and this is what’s very interesting about the video as you see her see the gun and and she, you know, continues what she’s doing, which is to put the orange juice down, and she turns around to walk out

S1: as Latasha begins to walk away. Summergrad do pulls the trigger. Just like that. Latasha collapse is out of sight of the camera. Latasha Lavonne Harlins died right there on the floor of the Empire liquor market. She was 15 years old. A police officer showed up at Ruth Harlins apartment later that afternoon. Latasha Mss cousin, SHINee’s, was in the living room.

S2: Latasha and I, we were headed out that afternoon. I think we was going to the movies, so they came in not showed a picture and my grandmother verified. It was Latasha and all hell broke loose. I remember running out the house and I remember falling down in our driveway, just crying like they killed the fuck they killed. I thought they killed her.

S1: Let’s take a break. The video of the Rodney King beating have been broadcast 12 days before the March 16th killing of Latasha Harlins. The footage was still dominating the national and local news a March 17th. The L.A. Times says metro section featured a long profile of King. The lead photo in the metro section showed protesters gathering outside of LAPD headquarters, demanding the resignation of Police Chief Daryl Gates. The ABC, CBS and NBC Evening News all ran series on police brutality and the LAPD. But there were no stories anywhere about Latasha Harlins. The cops and prosecutors had seen the video of Latasha Mss killing, but the public had likened the Rodney King case. No one brought a copy to a TV station. After a brief investigation at the store. Police arrested soon shot two three days later. Prosecutors charged do with the murder on March 19th, 1991, and the L.A. Times first story about Latasha Mss death. An LAPD officer said the case was just a business dispute and was not racially motivated. Nonetheless, responses to the killing broke down along racial and ethnic lines. Some Koreans saw Summergrad do as a frightened shopkeeper in a crime ridden neighborhood. Defending herself against the violent threat, here’s Elaine Kim.

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S7: Honestly speaking, my initial impression was similar to the other Korean people who thought poor son died. Do this girl is dead? But poor Sanjeeda was probably terrified. What were the circumstances of poor Summergrad do inadvertently shooting someone because she was slug and she was terrified?

S1: Black people in communities like South Central saw something different. A teenager shot in the head by an adult with a racist grievance in those neighborhoods. Latasha Mss death tapped into years of anger and resentment. More than 200 of Latasha Mss classmates signed a letter to the L.A. Times was Latasha shot and killed because of racial intolerance. They ask, When will this stop?

S9: We needed to make our voices heard. We need we need those voices to be loud and we needed to, you know, get the community riled up about it. And we did.

S1: Danny Bakewell is the activist who was skeptical of the Black Korean alliance in the days after Latasha Harlins mass killing. He organized a demonstration in front of the Empire Liquor Market. About 150 people showed up. They posted a sign across the front of the store reading clothes for murder and disrespect of black people.

S5: We were Jasmine.

S1: Bakewell helped organize boycotts of other Korean merchants that were accused of discriminating against black customers. This was the kind of moment the Black Korean alliance had been set up to address. The group promoted dialogue, not boycotts, but now the divisions were much harder to contain. Edward Chang.

S8: We still try to forge a coalition and sustain it, but without any support, human and financial support and the media just all around us. You know, the media wasn’t interested in mediation. Media was interested in covering conflict, tension, boycotts, violence.

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S1: In June, another Korean store owner shot and killed a black customer he suspected of trying to rob his store. No charges were filed in August. Three Korean owned stores in South Central were Firebombed. L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley held a press conference in front of a Burned-out storefront. He surrounded himself with Korean-American business owners, black clergy and members of the Black Korean Alliance. He urged everyone to talk out their differences, but Bakewell was done with talking. He kept at the boycotts for another month.

S9: This is not a game. This is our lives, our communities, our children, and you have to be more responsive and respectful. Or we are going to have a problem with each other soon.

S1: Produce murder trial was originally scheduled to take place in Compton, near the Empire Liquor Market, but in August 1991, a judge ordered a change of venue. The proceeding was moved to downtown Los Angeles. The judge’s reasoning that some witnesses and court staff, including a Korean interpreter, might feel intimidated driving in and out of Compton every day. The trial of Susan Chadha began in September at the center of the prosecution’s case was the surveillance videotape from the liquor store. The first time that footage had been aired in public. In her opening statement, prosecutor Roxanne Carvajal let the jury know what they were about to see.

S10: I do have to warn you that you should brace yourself because you will see Latasha being killed and she will die in front of your eyes.

S1: Carvajal hoped to show the jury that due had been the aggressor. Do hit grab Latasha sleeve do hit thrown the stool, do hit pulled out the gun and when Latasha tried to leave the store, do shudder. Earlier, you heard Elaine Kim say that like some Koreans, she had sympathized with Summergrad do when she first heard about the killing. That changed when she saw the video.

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S7: It looked like she was executing her. That’s what it looked like to me. Just to see some woman pick up a gun and shoot the girl in the back of the head as she was leaving is so shocking. And so yes, it it made a huge difference to see to actually see that happen. I can’t believe that people would still think that Latasha Harlins was at fault in any way.

S1: DOS lawyers argued that she’d acted in self-defense on the witness stand. Due testified that she thought Latasha might kill her either with her punches or with a gun that she might be carrying in her backpack. Latasha didn’t have a gun, but remember, Duke claimed that she believed Latasha was a gang member. Under cross-examination, Do said she’d been beaten senseless almost to oblivion, and that even with a gun in her hand, she thought she was going to die. But doos version of events didn’t line up with the tape. She wasn’t beaten senseless, and she had no reason to fear a teenage girl who had turned around and was walking away from her. Here’s Brenda Stevenson.

S4: It really goes to this notion of how black people are perceived within our society. We are perceived as being criminal as being aggressive. You know, people who are violent. And just to be clear, Asian-American women are not perceived in that way at the moment in which we were. This case took place. Mrs. Duke was thought of as more feminine and she was thought of as more respectable because of her racial status and her generation. Latasha was thought of as being a rash teenager as being someone who was brought up in a violent atmosphere, as the defense attorneys say she hit like a boy.

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S1: So that’s what the jury had to consider the security Videotape versus the defense’s caricature of a teenage black girl. They could find Summergrad do not guilty on self-defense grounds. They could find her guilty of second degree murder, or they could convict her of a lesser charge voluntary manslaughter defined as the unlawful killing of a human being without malice upon a sudden quarrel. They deliberated for three days.

S10: Would you please give the bailiff the verdict before please read the verdicts? Will you determine what kind of action prior to Tracy try to Latasha voluntary manslaughter?

S1: Voluntary manslaughter was the same verdict that came down in the killing of Latasha Mss mother. The verdict that made the family feel they hadn’t gotten justice. The verdict that made Latasha want to be a lawyer to protect her family. That was the verdict for Summergrad do, but do didn’t feel that she’d gotten off easy. She was facing up to 16 years in state prison. When the verdict was read in court, she lowered her head and wept. Soon, Shadow’s fate was now in the hands of Judge Joyce Karlin. Karlin had been appointed to the bench by a Republican governor, Pete Wilson, just two months earlier. This was the first case she’d presided over that had gone to trial. The punishment she handed down would have huge consequences for the Harlins and two families and for the City of Los Angeles. We’ll be right back. Soon, John Do was interviewed by a probation officer before her sentencing. She admitted that she was frightened by black people and didn’t understand them. She also said that if she was in the same situation again, she wouldn’t do anything differently. The probation officer recommended the maximum 16 year sentence. Judge Karlin rejected that recommendation.

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S5: Was it murder? A jury convicted do involuntary manslaughter. But Judge Joyce Karlin on the bench just since July imposed probation, a $500 fine, no jail time.

S1: After announcing that, do would serve no jail time. Judge Karlin read a statement. She said Latasha Mss death should be remembered as a catalyst to force blacks and Koreans to confront an intolerable situation and create solutions. This is not a time for rhetoric. It is not a time for revenge. It should be a time of healing. Karlin said Du had acted out of fear and that she wasn’t a threat to the community. Karlin also said that do likely hadn’t shown remorse because of cultural and language barriers. After Karlin written a statement soon, JDU cried out. Thank you, God and Korean. By then, the Harlins family had already left the courtroom. Once again, the justice system had failed them. Here’s Ruth Harlins, Latasha grandmother.

S11: I think it was an injustice. Justice has not been served. This lady has killed my 15 year old granddaughter and she can get away with five years probation. This is an injustice. You know, justice has not been served.

S1: SHINee’s Harlins Killgore.

S2: There was other way around of Latasha to kill Summergrad. Do she probably be in prison to this day to day? You know, because she is a typical black girl in a ghetto with a bad reputation? Reputational her name. So we live in a fucked up world, I guess. The justice system is not for us.

S1: Summergrad do slight sentence turn, would it mostly been a local story and to a national scandal? Supporters of the Harlins family focus their outrage on Judge Karlin.

S5: Black anger boiled over. I’m declaring today the black community is at war with Judge Carice. Am I right? Are you with me? Even the district attorney stoked the flames by condemning and blacklisting the judge. This was such a stunning miscarriage of justice that Judge Karlin cannot continue to hear criminal cases with any public credibility whatsoever.

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S1: Black leaders led pickets at Karlin courtroom and home. Some Koreans and Korean-Americans also criticized the sentence. They worried that the judge’s ruling might come back to hurt them and their community.

S8: Edward Chang She handed out the very light sentencing decision at all. I mean, just probation for not taking away a person’s life is just unacceptable. Unacceptable.

S1: The English language newspaper The Korea Times pointed out that as soon as I do, sentence was less severe than the 30 days in jail a Korean man received for kicking and stomping a dog. Some justice, the paper wrote. The L.A. Times looked at sentences given to people convicted of violent crimes in Los Angeles in the previous year of two hundred and forty seven defendants. Only two got straight probation with no jail time. Both of those were assault cases, not killings. In an interview almost three years later, Joyce Karlin lashed out at the media,

S10: the media is supporting the notion that racism is behind every decision that is made that racism is behind it is the skeleton in everybody’s closet. I have never been so aware, forced to be so aware of racial issues. Nobody thinks in terms of just human beings anymore. No, no statement is made without injecting some politically correct. But I think that I think we have to stop focusing on racism so much. I really do. You have to stop seeing it behind every door.

S1: Karlin said that she remained comfortable with how she handled the case.

S10: You don’t make a decision because it’s going to make you look good or bad. You don’t make a decision because you’re afraid of being called a wimp or too aggressive to make decisions for the right reasons and not personal consequences. That’s my point. That’s certainly my belief as a judge. And if there comes a time when I can’t make decisions without thinking about personal consequences, then it’s time for me to do that.

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S1: Soon, as I do, sentence confirms something the Harlins family and many black Americans already near the justice system seem to go into overdrive when meting out punishment to black people. But when a black person or family came to court as a victim, nothing worked as it should. Brenda Stevenson Again,

S4: this was really, really a devastating judgment as far as black people were concerned. Was this not the police than it’s and it’s not the jury? Then it’s the judge.

S1: Black Angelenos would not forget the pain of Latasha Harlins this killing when the riots began six months after Judge Karlin issued our verdict. Demonstrators would write Latasha his name on protest signs and 23:00 Korean owned stores would be looted and burned. But the Empire liquor market, it stayed standing. The building would be set on fire four separate times. But neighbors always put out the flames. They wanted to preserve the store as a memorial to Latasha, and they didn’t want the dew family to get any insurance money in the years following the trial. Latasha Seen Denise Harlins started an effort to recall Judge Karlin. She hoped to conjure the justice. Her family never found in court. Denise Harlins spent years lobbying public officials, staging protests and crashing. Events were Karlin was appearing. Denise, who died in 2018, is Shanese Harlins, Kilgore’s mother.

S2: My mom made it work at all. This was her job. A non pay job. So this was her life to make sure. Judge Karlin wouldn’t sleep comfortable, nor she let a murderer off.

S1: Joyce Karlin didn’t get recalled. She retired as a judge in 1997. She said she wanted to spend more time with her family. Latasha Harlins, his families struggled to cope with her death, one Latasha was killed. Her cousin, SHINee’s, was still a teenager herself.

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S2: Hell, I just lost my fucking best friend in the person I talked to the most. You know what I’m saying? I want to call my hair. I just lost her. And you just be like, What life? Just stop right then. And there won’t care how old you are. It was very painful to go home and. To sit. And just still have her clothes there, still have her smell there.

S1: Billion Summergrad two didn’t respond to our interview request. The author Itabari injury, spoke with Ruth Harlins in the year following due sentencing.

S3: I can remember this painful kind of squeaking voice from Ruth Harlins saying, talking about Mrs. Do she has her grandchildren? Why don’t I have my grandchild? Where is my grandchild?

S1: Los Angeles never delivered on its promise of a peaceful life for the Harlins family. But what Ruth Harlins couldn’t give them in safety, she gave in love. She still lives in L.A., not too far from the home where she once lived with her children and grandchildren. She is now 79 years old, having outlived two of her daughters and a granddaughter. Today, the painter Ruth Harlins has many losses still lingers.

S2: My grandmother, the way she takes death, is super crazy because when her daughter passed away, my auntie passed away. My grandmother didn’t keep no pictures of none. She she took every picture down of my auntie as she possibly can happen as she hid it. She put him away. So when Latasha passed away, she did the same thing.

S1: How long did it take her to take those pictures down?

S2: I don’t honestly know, but if you were to walk in her house in the 90s, you wouldn’t see a picture of Latasha or her mother. But now, 30 years later, she’s able to put a picture up of Latasha and her mother. She accepts it the the death. She’s dealing with the pain somehow some way.

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S1: Next week on Slow Burn, an outrage city meets an immovable force.

S5: The LAPD was the most powerful political force in the city. I’m basically a fairly mild mannered person, but I reached my living. The chief had stepped over the threshold that I could tolerate.

S1: Slow burn is a production of Slate Plus Slate’s membership program. You can sign up for Slate Plus two here, a bonus episode of the show this week and every week for the next two months. And in this week’s bonus episode, you’ll be hearing more from IDA. Barring the Cherry, who wrote a book about the Harlins family called The Last Plantation, and from Edward Chang, who was a member of the Black Korean Alliance. Head over to Slate.com, slash slow burn to sign up and listen now. It’s only a dollar for your first month. We couldn’t make slow burn without the support of Flight-Plus, so please sign up if you can head over to Slate.com. Slash Slow Burn Slow Burn is produced by Jayson de Leon Ethan Brooks, Sophie Summergrad Jasmine Ellis in Me Joel Anderson Editorial Direction by Joshua Levine and Gabriel Roth. Artwork by Jim Cook Theme music but Don Will Mixing by Merritt Jacob Brenda. Stevenson’s book was a great resource for us. It’s called the contested murder of Latasha Harlins special thanks to the Department of Special Research Collections at the UC Santa Barbara Library. Lou Cannon, Jaxon van der Beek in Devin Schwartz, Stan Mizrahi, Laura Berlanti, Jared Holt, Lowe and Lou Derrick, John Derrick Johnson, Evan Chong, Davis Land, Jeanette Jasmine Harris, Amber Smith, Bill Carey, Rachel Strong, Seth Brown, Meredith Moran, Child to Usher Saluja and Katy Rayford. Thanks for listening.