She died instantly. Copyright 2022 NPR. (Never Ignorant About Getting Goals Accomplished)", "True to the Game: Ice Cube's 'Death Certificate', https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Killing_of_Latasha_Harlins&oldid=1142220736, African-AmericanAsian-American relations, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0, This page was last edited on 1 March 2023, at 04:43. 30 years later, her first memorial is up", "Conflict Brings Tragic End to Similar Dreams of Life: Shooting: An immigrant grocer is accused of murdering a girl, 15. So I think we have to move past diversity and understand what it means for Black folks to have power and agency within the industry. More , December 10, 2019 Harlins threw the juice bottle back on the counter and turned to leave the store when Du pulled a .38-caliber handgun and shot 15-year-old Harlins in the back of the head. So often we hear from elders, adults, or community activists, and Im always really curious as to how our children process this moment. People have seen it, and I think we really need to interrogate what it means to constantly think that it is necessary to see Black trauma, to see Black death as a way to make some sort of connection or as a way to make people understand the importance and the significance and the core of it. She made sure other people had before she had. And so for me, dismantling means making people uncomfortable and building something completely new. Let me go. . , The documentary short received strongly favorable reviews. It is a fictionalized account of the killing of Latasha Harlins and the effects on both her family and the family of the shooter. CHRISTINA ROGERS: Latasha was so popular. Koreans in response argued that their attitudes evolved from high crime rates in the area and shop owner fears of shootings and burglaries. In reality, Latasha had been carrying the money to pay for the drink in her hand. She said Harlins and Du called each other bitch.. This may have been the last known photo taken of Latasha Harlins. Sophia Nahli Allison at the Oscars last Sunday. ROGERS: Walk me through the day Latasha died. On the morning of March 16, 1991, though, Harlins did plan to make a purchase. In 1982, when Latasha was six years old, her father took a job in a steel foundry while her mother worked as a waitress in a local tavern. A brother and sister remember Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed in 1991 by a store clerk in South Central Los Angeles the same month Rodney King was beaten. You bitch, you are trying to steal my orange juice, the boy quoted Du as saying when Harlins approached the stores counter with currency in her hand and the bottle of juice halfway protruding from her backpack. Latasha Harlins (January 1, 1976 March 16, 1991) was an African-American girl who was fatally shot at age 15 by Soon Ja Du (Korean: ), a 49-year-old Korean-American convenience store owner. Acoff Sr. was known to be abusive towards Crystal, attacking and beating her in front of Latasha and her younger siblings. And theres no protection for Black girls when we have to rely on a system that is deeply rooted in white supremacy. What do you make of police violence and racism continuing to rob Black girls of their childhoods and, in some cases, their lives? Judge Karlin suggested that there were mitigating circumstances in the killing of Harlins. In her book American Dream, Sapphire wrote the poem Strange Juice (or the murder of Latasha Harlins) giving voice to the murdered girl. She had picked up a bottle of orange juice and put it in her backpack and owner, Du, immediately though she was trying to steal it.  Since then, they had been a target of anger from both black shop-owners and black customers, with incompatible claims from either group that say Korean shop-owners "undercut prices" by the shop-owners and that they overcharged customers. I guess it made her think of her mom, said her cousin, Shinese. The neighborhood had its own host of problems during this time.  Karlin resigned from the bench in 1997. And 15-year-old Harlins was shot and killed by Soon Ja Du at Empire Liquor in South Central Los Angeles on March 16, 1991. The court also stated that Du shot Harlins under extreme provocation and duress and deemed it unlikely that Du would ever commit a serious crime again. And so I think thats when the nation has to really acknowledge how many of the folks here have been complicit in watching and witnessing young Black girls be stripped of their lives. OBard reads a poem that Latasha Harlins wrote, and cries. Directed by Sophia Nahli Allison, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject at the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021. Instead, she sentenced Du to 400 hours of community service, five years on probation and a $500 fine, which is around 385. By the late 1980s, racial tensions were high in South Los Angeles, and especially between Korean storeowners and African American residents of the city. As the voices of Shinese and Ty are heard reminiscing about their friend Latasha, impressionistic and sometimes fleeting images of little girls togetherwalking together, playing, swimming in a public swimming poolappear on the screen, intercut with footage of a swing set or other places where they played. She entered Empire Liquor, which was owned by a Korean family, to purchase a bottle of orange juice.  Further, the stereotypes of the two groups were a source of contention, with black people often being labeled as economically "dependent", with Koreans and other Asians often labeled economically self-sufficient. Some members of Harlins family wept as they watched the March 16 shooting on television monitors. And a little girl didn't have enough money. If they don't validate the existence of other Black women and girls then they have no right to work with me. So what will it take for Black girls to just exist on and off screen? The property later became a market under different ownership. In his opening statement, Dus attorney, Charles Lloyd, contended that Du pulled a handgun in self-defense and accidentally shot Harlins. And I remember Latasha buying that little girl an ice cream. I for one am sick and tired of less than five percent of this community trying to tell the rest of us what to do, what to think, and what to say. Back in 2015, as London-based portrait photographer Benjamin McMahon was building his career, his mentor, photographer Julian Broad, gave him a valuable piece of advice: Dont start changing your style. Family members said they hope Latasha's legacy evolves to be about love and justice. Du was released. On a Saturday morning in 1991, 15-year-old Latasha Harlins walked to a market five minutes from her home in South-Central Los Angeles to buy a bottle of orange juice. I remember when I watched Eves Bayou and when I watched Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. Du was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, but was sentenced to probation and community service; she served no jail time. It becomes more important for Black girls to see themselves reflected on screens and others to see us reflect it, to humanize them, to provide some form of consciousness and some understanding of why their lives are important in general. Los Angeles Times/GettyKorean grocer Soon Ja Du in court, after she fatally shot Latasha Harlins in the back of the head. "Thank everyone for coming out, supporting my sister Latasha Harlins. After the four police officers that senselessly beat Rodney King that night in 1991 were exonerated by a mostly white jury, the people of South Central finally had enough. We would sit down, and our grandmother Madea would give us spelling words. , Rapper Ice Cube composed a song about the incident for his album Death Certificate titled "Black Korea". , The incident and reduced sentencing by the court exacerbated the existing tensions between African-American residents and Korean-American merchants in South Central Los Angeles. Just get on with what you want to do and make the pictures you want to make. Tasha died. Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images. The film captures the essence and showcases the fullness of Harlins, something that reports on her death always failed to do. Two were found guilty, Officer Laurence Powell and Sergeant Stacey Koon, while two were acquitted. We also may change the frequency you receive our emails from us in order to keep you up to date and give you the best relevant information possible. The Los Angeles mayor's office estimated that 65 percent of all businesses vandalized during the riots were Korean-owned. Left Ken Browar and Deborah Ory; Right John Paul Caponigro, Sundance Institutes New Frontier Lab Programs. MaKhia Bryant. When we look at Latasha Harlins, even Judge Joyce Karlin [who presided over the trial following her death] understands why Soon Ja Du reacted the way she did. I think Im just grateful that we have Black folks who are willing to do the work that is necessary, folks that are willing to challenge policies that are being set in place, people that are willing to march in the street, people that are willing to lay their lives down on the line, people that are willing to tell truth through art, through film, through music, scholars that are giving us the language to understand what it means to build new futures. Wednesday night, family and community members came out to remember Latashas legacy. Support one another, all nationalities. So it was this really beautiful coming together with a community, and of me engaging with my own childhood, my own path. These are people that I knew in high school when I lost my dad, and now their children are a part of this story. Jasmine M. Ellis: What inspired you to make A Love Song for Latasha? A video of the incident was given to a local TV station and ignited international outrage. , Soon Ja Du testified on her own behalf, claiming that the shooting was in self-defense and that she believed her life was in danger. "We got all this racism, hate going on. Her dad worked in a steel foundary while he mum waited tables to try to make ends meet and provide for Latasha and her younger sister, Christina. Latasha Harlins was killed just a few years after her mother was shot dead in a South-Central L.A. nightclub. The graphic images of the killing of 15-year-old Harlins, captured by a security camera inside the Empire Liquor Market in South-Central Los Angeles, drew gasps in the packed Superior Court courtroom where grocer Soon Ja Du is being tried for murder. African American History: Research Guides & Websites, Global African History: Research Guides & Websites, African American Scientists and Technicians of the Manhattan Project, Envoys, Diplomatic Ministers, & Ambassadors, Foundation, Organization, and Corporate Supporters. Thats why the image of Latasha is always changing in the film. In many ways, the shooting death of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins on March 16, 1991 by convenience store clerk Soon Diversity means we see you, but we really dont need to engage with you. (Harlins death was one of the inciting incidents of the 1992 L.A. race riots, and the trial against her killer, store owner Soon Ja Du, garnered national attention; although Du was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, she received a light sentence of probation and community service. Not enough has changed Filmmaker Shannon Dion, left, places a portrait of Latasha Harlins as friends and community members WebA brother and sister remember Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed in 1991 by a store clerk in South Central Los Angeles the same month Rodney King was  Despite intervention from leaders of both communities, the time after the death of Latasha Harlins was characterized by boycotts, tense debate, bitterness, Molotov cocktails, and more convenience store murders. Latasha's killer was convicted of manslaughter but served no jail time. One, as an L.A. native, this is a story that was important, one that had not been discussed in the fullness of who Latasha was. I hate the word reform. But she didn't belong [on the bench] anyway. Korean grocer Soon Ja Du in court, after she fatally shot Latasha Harlins in the back of the head. People think that for Black life to matter, it has to be a cis-hetero life, and until we acknowledge all of the intersections, all of the existences within Black identity, Black women, Black girls, Black queer folks, Black trans folks, Black nonconforming folks, there will never be a solution to this issue. A small donation would help us keep this available to all. The family moved from Illinois to South Central Los Angeles in 1981. Empire Liquor became a target for protests.  After the Los Angeles Times endorsed one of her opponents in her re-election campaign, she wrote a letter to the newspaper, saying "[I]f judges have to look over their shoulders as they decide a case; if they have to test the political winds in order to arrive at a politically correct verdictthen the judicial system and the freedoms it guarantees will be destroyed. Latasha Harlins voice isnt heard in the film. Site Map, 2023 Emerald Expositions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.  Recent years have seen improved relations between the two communities, as a younger generation of Korean-American LA residents showed up in great numbersin some cases even organizing proteststo support the Black Lives Matter movement during the summer of 2020. The mural was created by visual artist Victoria Cassinova.. Thousands of people took to the streets when the verdict was announced and looting and arson was widespread. So understanding this idea of how loss can deeply affect and disrupt Black girl childhood, I thought it was important for us to talk to the women who were then young girls [when Latasha died, in 1991,] about who Latasha was to rebuild the story, to engage in this process of collective memory and rebirth and archive. Her death happened thirteen days after the videotape of the Rodney King beating was released. , After the widely publicized shooting of Latasha Harlins, relations between the black and Korean communities continued to deteriorate rapidly. " Since retiring from the bench Karlin has used her husband's surname Fahey. I just knew that I was blessed to have an older sibling that looked after me, that loved me. ACOFF: You know, she was a caretaker. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity. It sparked five days of riots across Los Angeles. She says: How do we reimagine archives of black women and black girls when the archives are erased or discarded, or only focused on their trauma? When she was six years old, her family moved to South-Central L.A. by Greyhound bus.