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Recovery Outlook: Costly, Slow

LOS ANGELES RIOT

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THE first faint outlines of recovery plans for riot-torn communities here are beginning to emerge as troops withdraw from the streets and questions linger over the early response of police to the unrest.

State and federal aid packages for the thousands of residents affected by the rioting are being sketched out, though most don't bear the kinds of numbers local activists would like.

At the same time, the private sector - which may hold the key to reconstruction - continues to chip in money, but analysts caution that these good-samaritan impulses, too, without attention to the underlying social ills that helped ignite the violence, will do only limited good.

"This will be a lengthy process," says Jon Goodman, head of the entrepreneurial program at the University of Southern California (USC), who has worked with start-ups in south-central Los Angeles. "Virtually all of the infrastructure that allows us to rebuild inner-city neighborhoods has never been put in place here." (Watts and south-central riots compared, Page 8.)

More than a week after the rioting occurred, a dominant theme continues to be whether more could have been done to anticipate and contain the violence that erupted in the wake of the verdict in the Rodney King case. Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates said last week that mistakes were made in the early stages of the rioting, but he generally defended the actions of his department.

He blamed a field lieutenant for not regrouping his officers and returning to a south-central Los Angeles intersection where moments earlier they had been pelted by debris. It was at that intersection, Florence and Normandie, that a driver was pulled from his truck and beaten in what has become the signature image of the riot. Had the officers returned, the chief suggested, the beating might have been prevented. But he denies that the spreading rioting could have been contained, no matter what was done i n that circumstance, and he calls the department's overall performance "beautiful."

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