On March 16, 1991, Latasha Harlins was shot and killed by Korean store owner Soon Ja Du. Du shot Harlins after incorrectly assuming the 15-year-old was stealing a bottle of orange juice. Her murder came 13 days after the videotaped beating of Rodney King at the hands of Los Angeles police officer. Instead of incarceration, Du was fined only $500 and sentenced to five years probation and 400 hours of community service.
In the new documentary, A Love Song For Latasha, director and South Central LA native Sophia Nahli Allison examines the life of Harlins prior to her death. The documentary takes on the format of a dreamlike narrative that reframes Harlins through the memories of her best friend and cousin. The documentary recently premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Harlins’ death, as well as the beating of Rodney King, are often said to be the catalyst of the 1992 Los Angeles race riots, which culminated after frustrations over the lack of discrimination of Black residents in Los Angeles in the ’90s.
Watch the trailer below:
Photo: Sophia Nahli Allison