Wednesday, August 11, 1965: Watts riots begin

Wednesday, August 11
     An estimated 1,000 persons rioted in the Watts district Wednesday night and attacked police and motorists with rocks, bricks and bottles before some 100 officers attempted to quell the five-hour melee by sealing off an eight-block area. ...
     The incident began with a minor disturbance about 7:19 p.m. when California Highway Patrol officers Lee Minikus and Bob Lewis stopped an auto near 116th St. and Avalon Blvd.
     The officers said they attempted to arrest driver Marquette Frye, 21, of 11620 S. Towne St., on suspicion of drunk driving along with his brother, Ronald, 22. 
     But their mother, Rena, 49, who lives near by, approached the scene and began scolding her sons, the officers said.
     The two suspects began resisting arrest and their mother joined them in berating the officers along with a crowd of about 200, they said. The shirt was torn from the back of one of the officers in the ensuing disturbance.
     Minikus and Lewis and radioed for assistance and about 20 city officers responded under a hail of rocks. The officers succeeded in leaving with the three suspects, but a large crowd began to gather at the intersection.
     -- Los Angeles Times: @ 

Thursday, August 12
     Fierce rioting again gripped the Negro section of south Los Angeles tonight. Officials called it the worst racial incident in the city's history.
     Crowds of up to 5,000 Negroes gathered in a 20-block area that had been sealed off by some 100 policemen and more than 300 deputy sheriffs. ...
     Officials were at a loss to explain the cause of the rioting, which started last night after a routine drunken driving arrest. The unusually hot, smoggy weather was doubtless a contributing factor.
     Many Negroes at the scene complained about alleged police brutality but few cited specific instances to support their charges.
     -- New York Times: @ 

Friday, August 13
     National Guardsmen with fixed bayonets marched Friday night into a Negro district where arsonists and looters were out of control and flying bullets killed both police and civilians.
     Four persons, one a deputy sheriff, were reported slain by gunshot just before the first wave of 400 steel-helmeted troops rolled into the community of Watts and quickly took over without incident.
     The area, focal point of rioting for two days, was quiet when guardsmen arrived. All the action was farther north where thousands of Negroes raced through darkness breaking into stores, looting them and igniting many.
     -- Associated Press: @

Saturday, August 14
     The nation's worst Negro uprising in two decades was crushed Saturday by 2,000 rifle-carrying National Guardsmen and armed police but sporadic violence and nearly uncontrolled looting went on throughout the area.
     At least 17 persons were killed, a thousand arrested and "astronomical" damage in the millions was caused in the three days of rioting.
     Police cautioned store owners not to risk lives by defending their property as devastated supermarkets, department stores and shops became targets again for ransacking when troops pulled back to bivouacs. Police rounded up the looters as fast as they could catch them.
     -- United Press International: @
     -- Timeline, Wednesday-Saturday (Australian Associated Press): @ 

Sunday, August 15
     A vast military maneuver Sunday seized, occupied and almost completely controlled a Negro district wracked by five days' violence. But a police officer was shot to death as rampaging Negro mobs carried violence to other areas.
     -- Associated Press: @

Monday, August 16
     Comparative calm settled over the city's troop-encircled Negro riot zone today after a wild night in which violence spread for the first time to other Southern California cities. ...
     After five straight nights of rioting by uncounted thousands of Negroes, police removed most of the barricades in a 42-square-mile "unsafe" zone and this morning residents moved about freely for the first time since Wednesday night.
     -- Associated Press: @ 

Tuesday, August 17
     Violence dwindled today in Los Angeles' vast Negro district after six days of rioting which evangelist Billy Graham called "a dress rehearsal for a revolution." ...
     Courts processed the first of more than 3,000 suspected rioters arrested.
     Food markets opened and clears, wearing pistols, sold food as troops stood guard.
     City and county offices were opened, buses rolled again, mail delivery was resumed, and clean-up crew tackled wreckage left by six days of turmoil.
     Gov. Edmund G. Brown declared the riots ended.
     But 15,000 National Guardsmen still held the 46-square-mile heart of the Los Angeles Negro district sealed within a perimeter of guns.
     -- Associated Press: @

Wednesday, August 18
     Police and National Guardsmen today unleashed a barrage of gunfire into a Black Muslim mosque in the heart of a Negro neighborhood where weeklong rioting had been declared ended. 
     Officers opened up with pistols, rifles and shotguns after several heavily-armed Negroes were reported to have entered the building and fired on police. Eight Negroes suffered head injuries in scuffling with police who charged into the temple.
     -- United Press International: @

Other resources
* "Violence in the City: An End or a Beginning? / A Report by the Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots" (December 1965): @
* Summary from www.findingdulcinea.com: @
* Summary from www.blackpast.org: @
* Summary from Civil Rights Digital Library: @
* Summary from "Encyclopedia of Political Communication" (edited by Lynda Lee Kaid and Christina Holtz-Bacha, 2008): @
* "Watts Annotations" (Los Angeles Times): @
* KTLA audio, August 13, 1965 (pastdaily.com): @
* Life magazine, August 27, 1965: @
* Jet magazine, September 2, 1965: @
* Ebony magazine, October 1965: @
* Newsreel: @ 
* "There's Still Hell to Pay in Watts" (Life magazine, July 15, 1966; excerpt from "Burn, Baby, Burn!," Jerry Cohen and William S. Murphy): @
* Origins of "Burn, Baby! Burn!" (www.magnificentmontague.com): @
* Radio interview with Magnificent Montague (Public Radio Exchange, 2009): @
* "Report Takes Myth Out of That Watts Rioting" (United Press International, September 1, 1966): @
* "A Stranger in the City" (Robert Conot, 1967; from "Perspectives on Black America," 1970): @
* Marquette Frye obituary (Los Angeles Times; 1986): @
* Rena Price obituary (Los Angeles Times; 2013): @
* "Watts Riots Changed the Black Movement for Years Afterward" (United Press International, August 1990): @
* "Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s" (Gerald Horne, 1995): @
* "Burn Baby Burn: Small Business in the Urban Riots of the 1960s" (Jonathan J. Bean, Independent Review, 2000): @
* "Watts Riots, 40 Years Later" (Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2005): @
* "Troubled Pasts: News and the Collective Memory of Social Unrest" (Jill A. Edy, 2006): @ 

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