(NBC 26) -- The images coming back from Minneapolis and Saint Paul today are tough for many to watch. Businesses are being burned to the ground many others are being ransacked. But this is not the first time in recent memory we've seen moments like this, moments that could change America.
The reality of what is playing out in Minneapolis is tough for the nation to process right now, but it's also something that looks awfully similar to what happened in Los Angles nearly three decades ago.
"It's a script we've seen before. It was eerily similar to me to what we saw in 1992 in L.A. which I've written about," says Darnel Hunt the Dean of Social Sciences at UCLA.
Hunt has written extensively about the public response in Los Angeles, following the moment when L.A. police officers were acquitted by a judge in the violent beating of Rodney King, an African American.
"People, they're essentially losing faith in the system and feeling that they can't take anymore and they take to the streets to protest," adds Hunt.
Today though, Hunt is not talking about what happened in L.A., he's talking about the protests that are unfolding in Minneapolis.
"So you have this accumulated understanding or generalized belief that black lives just don't matter," says Hunt.
Hunt says within the current climate which includes a high unemployment rate, limited access to healthcare for many, and a pandemic on top of it all the unrest in society has reached a boiling point.
"Rioting implies senseless venting of frustration with no focus or political agenda and clearly that is not what we have here. We have people that are demanding that the police are held accountable."
But hunt also believes protests can ignite change. In Los Angles, for example, police reworked their game plan for policing after the devastation to their city.
"1992 in L.A. that lead to a focus on community policing. The police chief was ousted and a series of police chiefs were brought in to reform the L.A. Police Department."
And with all four Minneapolis officers losing their jobs related to the death of George Floyd, and one officer being charged with murder, Hunt anticipates there could be more changes coming for the Minneapolis Police Department in the near future.
"It will force the Minneapolis police department to look at itself in the mirror and get to the bottom of one of these long-standing issues," says Hunt.