The recent riots in Los Angeles gave members of the Church there an opportunity to serve those in need and contribute to the healing of the city’s deep wounds.
Of the hundreds of businesses burned and robbed, twenty-two belonged to Church members, and one Church member lost her home. In the riots, three members were injured.
Relief aid began almost immediately as individual Church members throughout the area learned of the devastation. In more than a dozen stakes, people spontaneously responded to their neighbors’ troubles by gathering and delivering food, clothing, furniture, and money, as well as by transporting people who were without means. A few examples of the relief responses include these:
More than five hundred members of the Palos Verdes stake gathered two tons of supplies and delivered them to two protestant churches in south central Los Angeles and to a Hispanic relief agency.
The Chino stake delivered commodities that had been contributed by members and collected at a local supermarket.
From the Glendora stake, substantial cash donations and one ton of food were delivered to the Korean community. The Hacienda Heights stake contributed money and two truckloads of food.
The Reseda Ward delivered three hundred box lunches to a relief center for residents without food and for volunteers helping in the cleanup.
Large amounts of food supplies were contributed by the Arcadia, LaVerne, Long Beach East, Los Angeles, North Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Simi Valley stakes. The Long Beach stakes prepared and served meals to more than 600 national guard troops. The Church released an additional supply of food and commodities from the Los Angeles area bishops’ storehouse.
Food and commodities were shared with those in need as a result of the Church’s involvement, meeting the greatest immediate need for those residents in the crisis area—enough to feed 10,000 people for nearly two months.
Cleanup efforts have found Latter-day Saints working beside those from other churches and in various parts of the community to restore order and rebuild where possible. On June 14, more than 900 members joined 12,000 people of various faiths who lined Western Avenue, holding hands for ten miles in a symbolic gesture of brotherhood. The event, coordinated by the Los Angeles Interfaith Council, was called “Hands across L.A.”
Community involvement by members has been so intense that Liz Shropshire of the Los Angeles singles ward has left a message on her answering machine for anyone trying to reach her. It says simply, “Hi, I’m not here right now, but if you’re calling about our efforts to rebuild L.A., just meet us at the church on Saturday and you’ll get an assignment.” Her message tells a big part of the story for Church members who are contributing to life in Los Angeles.