Friday, August 14, 2015

50 Years Ago Today – 28 Historical Photographs from the Watts Riots in August, 1965

The Watts Riot, which raged for six days and resulted in more than forty million dollars worth of property damage, was both the largest and costliest urban rebellion of the Civil Rights era. The riot spurred from an incident on August 11, 1965 when Marquette Frye, a young African American motorist, was pulled over and arrested by Lee W. Minikus, a white California Highway Patrolman, for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

That night, 1,000 people rioted in Watts, some throwing bricks, rocks and bottles at police and motorists, The Times reported. About 100 officers were brought in to attempt “to quell the five-hour melee by sealing off an eight-block area,” the newspaper said.

What followed was six days of rioting — in which 34 people died, more than 1,000 were injured and property damage was estimated at $40 million.

Aug. 13, 1965: National Guard troops secure a stretch of 103rd Street, dubbed Charcoal Alley, in Watts to help Los Angeles authorities restore order. The riots, sparked by the arrest of a black motorist for drunk driving, lasted for six days. After the violence, 34 people, 25 of them black, were dead and more than 1,000 were injured. 

Aug. 12, 1965: Crowd and police at Imperial Highway and Avalon Blvd., in the early morning just before violence broke out.

Aug. 13, 1965: Debis litters Avalon Blvd. near 105th St. as crowd watches smoke rise from a building at 108th St.

Aug. 13, 1965: A burned car and four others overturned by rioters clog Imperial Highway near Avalon during Watts Riots.

Aug. 13, 1965: Car burns in intersection of Avalon Blvd. during Watts Riots.

Aug. 13, 1965: Los Angeles police officers stand guard as debris of day of violence is cleared from the intersection of Avalon Blvd., and Imperial Highway, one of the worst trouble spots from which violence was spreading.

Aug. 13, 1965: A girl injured in Watts Riots is carried into emergency entrance at Oak Park Hospital.

Aug. 14, 1965: A California National Guardsman patrols 103rd St. near Compton Ave. in Watts business district.

Aug. 1965: During the Watts Riots, sign sits in window of store owned by African-American. In some cases the signs weer disregarded and the business damaged by rioters.

Aug. 14, 1965: Dep. Sheriff Edward Harter stands ready to protect firemen fighting flames in building set afire during Watts Riots at Willowbrook Ave.

Aug. 14, 1965: A truck is backed up to store front at 908 E. Jefferson Blvd. as looters help themselves.

Aug. 14, 1965: Smoke from a row of buildings burning on Central Ave., south of 43rd St. darkens sky during Watts Riots.

Aug. 15, 1965: Fire truck and national guardsmen stand on scene of desolation on S. Central Ave. following a series of first set during the Watts Riots.

Aug. 15, 1965: Local residents and newsmen converge on California Governor Pat Brown, arrow, as he arrives at Jacob Riis High School in Watts Riot area to have lunch with high-ranking National Guard Officers.

Aug. 15, 1965: A national guardsman stands watch to help ward off snipers as firemen battle a blaze at furniture store in Watts.

Aug. 15, 1965: National guardsmen, with bayonet fixed, take up position at Atlantic Blvd. and Anaheim St., Long Beach to enforce curfew order. The Watts Riots violence spilled over into Long Beach.

Aug. 15, 1965: Long Beach police officer George Medac, 23, in St. Mary's Hospital with bullet wound in arm suffered in Watts Riots. In background is fellow officer, Sgt. R. A. Castillo.

Aug. 16, 1965: Car is searched at roadblock at 103rd St. and Central Ave. by Guardsmen. Small gauge hunting shotgun shells were returned to the motorist.

Aug. 16, 1965: Car sprayed by machine gun bullets as its driver attempted to run a roadblock is abondoned at the side of Compton Ave.

Aug. 16, 1965: Only women were allowed to enter the Giant Food Market at 1712 E. 103rd St. after it reopened during Watts Riots. Clerks were wearning guns. Man facing camera is manager Carl Margolis.

Aug. 16, 1965: Two women walk around the ruins of  store on 103rd St. near Maie Ave. in the center of the riot area.

Aug. 17, 1965: Dept. of Water and Power lineman works among wires on poles burned and snapped apart by store fires at Central Ave. at Vernon.

Aug. 17, 1965: A. Z. Smith, left, begins the task of getting Smitty's Barber Shop on Beach St. back in shape following the Watts Riots.

Aug. 17, 1965: Mrs. Ronald E. Ludlow, widow of deputy sheriff killed in rioting, receives condolence from Rev. Lawrence Keene of Crenshaw Christian Church at Inglewood Park Cemetery as Ludlow's fellow officers form an honor guard for fallen comrade.

Aug. 17, 1965: Charles Vance sweeps up the litter in front of stores at 45th St. and Central Ave. following the Watts Riots.

Aug. 18, 1965: Dr. Martin Luther King during talk at Westminster Neighborhood Assn. meeting regarding the Watts Riots.

Aug. 20, 1965: Dept. of Public Works clean up crew at 103rd st. and Maie Ave., following the Watts Riots.

Aug. 13, 1965: Smoke rises from buildings on 103rd St. looking west from Wilmington Ave. during Watts Riots.

(Photos © Los Angeles Times)

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