Watts Riot of Los Angeles, 1965 by Irivin Ward

The elders of that generation had a “bite the bullet” and a “suck it up” attitude even though they knew how they were being treated was wrong. The younger people of that generation were not going to put up with that way of life anymore. They saw the riot as an opportunity to speak out and be heard so they took full advantage of the moment. By Thursday evening, crowds of young Blacks filled the streets once again but this time they were faced with over 250 Los Angeles Police department officers. After the officers began to fire rounds into the crowds the riot began all over again.

The Blacks used guerrilla warfare during the riot. Their weapons were bricks from torn down buildings, rocks, bottles, and things of that nature.

Soon the riot became the face of many newspapers across the country. Following that 16,000 National Guard officers were brought to Los Angeles with hopes to restore the city. As the days went on the officers felt the “iron fist” was necessary to regain order and power. Autopsies showed that many people in the riot were shot in their backs. It took 5 days for the riot to come to an end when the head of the Los Angeles Police Department believed they could handle the situation with in a single day. Race riots prior to the 1960’s were white people running through Black neighborhoods and attacking Blacks.

This riot was a result of Black anger, hurt and hostility. The difference between the Watts riot from the other riots in New York and Detroit is that no one thought that it would happen there being that it was surrounded by nicer parts of the country. After the riot, from 1965 to 1971 gang violence was considerably low because the young people of that area were busy working with other organizations trying to rebuild their communities. Some of those organizations were known as the Student Non Violent Committee and the Black Panthers.

  FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover described the Black    Panthers as “The greatest threat to the internal security  of the country”. J. Edgar Hoover launched a covert counter intelligence operation against the Black Panthers which destroyed the black pride and black progression movements.

As a result of the riot there were 34 people killed and 1,032 reported injuries, including 90 Los Angeles police officers, 136 firemen, 10 national guardsmen, 23 people from other governmental agencies, and 773 civilians. 118 of the injuries resulted from gunshot wounds. Of the 34 killed, one was a fireman, one was a deputy sheriff, and one a Long Beach policeman. It has been estimated that the loss of property due to the riots was over $40 million.

 More than 600 buildings were damaged by burning and looting. Of this number,  more than 200 were totally destroyed by fire. The rioters concentrated primarily on food markets, liquor stores, furniture stores, clothing stores, department stores, and pawn shops. Between 2,000 and 3,000 fire alarms were recorded during the riot, 1,000 of these between 7:00 a.m. on Friday and 7:00 a.m. on Saturday. There were 3,438 adults arrested, 71% for burglary and theft. The number of juveniles arrested was 514, 81% for burglary and theft. Of the adults arrested, 1,232 had never been arrested before; 1,164 had a “minor” criminal record (arrest only or convictions with sentence of 90 days or less); 1,042 with “major” criminal record (convictions with sentence of more than 90 days). Of the juveniles arrested, 257 had never been arrested before.

All rights reserved (2011)
(c) Dale Shields
Iforcolor.org – Irivin Ward



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