August 11 1965-Los Angeles Erupted:The Watts Riots-have Things Changed Much?

Have things changed much since 1965? For many of us not really..Here’s a brief run down of the Watts Riots courtesy of Wikipedia.. One thing we should keep in mind is the tyrannical rule of LAPD Chief  William Parker. His policy was to bring in southern cops to patrol the streets of LA specifically to contain Black residents and let them know the police were in charge. He also had a policy of having his officers engage every Black male they came across at a young age so they would have fear of the police instilled in them..


August 11, 1965, in Watts, a neighborhood in Los Angeles Lee Minikus, a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer, pulled over Marquette Frye, who Minikus believed was intoxicated because of his observed erratic driving. Frye failed to pass sobriety tests, including walking in a straight line and touching his nose, and was arrested soon after. Minikus refused to let Frye’s brother, Ronald, drive the car home, and radioed for it to be impounded. As events escalated, a crowd of onlookers steadily grew from dozens to hundreds.[1] The mob became violent, throwing rocks and other objects while shouting at the police officers. A struggle ensued shortly resulting in the arrest of Marquette and Ronald Frye, as well as their mother.

Burning buildings during the riots.

Though the riots began in August, there had previously been a buildup of racial tension in the area. The riots that began on August 11 resulted from an amalgamation of such events in Watts, and the arrest of three Frye family members broke the tension as violence spilled onto the streets of Watts for four days.

Watts suffered from various forms and degrees of damage from the residents’ looting and vandalism that seriously threatened the security of the city. Some participants chose to intensify the level of violence by starting physical fights with police, blocking the firemen of the Los Angeles Fire Department from their safety duties, or even beating white motorists. Others joined the riot by breaking into stores, stealing whatever they could, and some setting the stores themselves on fire.[2]

LAPD Police Chief William Parker also fueled the radicalized tension that already threatened to combust, by publicly labeling the people he saw involved in the riots as “monkeys in the zoo”.[2] Overall, an estimated $40 million in damage was caused as almost 1,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Most of the physical damage was confined to white-owned businesses that were said to have caused resentment in the neighborhood due to perceived unfairness. Homes were not attacked, although some caught fire due to proximity to other fires