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Encyclopedia > Watts Riots

The term Watts Riots refers to a large-scale riot which lasted six days in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, in August 1965. Teamsters, armed with pipes, riot in a clash with riot police in the Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934. ... Watts is a residential district in southern Los Angeles, California. ... Los Angeles and L.A. redirect here. ...



The riot began on August 11, 1965, in Watts, when Lee Minikus, a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer, pulled over Marquette Frye, who Minikus believed was intoxicated because of his observed erratic driving. However, in this part of town especially, traffic stops were not so routine. While police questioned Frye and his brother Ronald Frye, a group of people began to gather. The mob began to throw rocks and other objects and shout at the police officers. A struggle ensued shortly after Frye's mother, Rena, arrived on the scene, resulting in the arrest of all three family members. is the 223rd day of the year (224th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1965 (MCMLXV) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the 1965 Gregorian calendar. ... Watts is a residential district in southern Los Angeles, California. ... The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is a state agency that acts as the state police force of California. ...

This riot occurred in the midst of a period of rioting across the nation - having started in Rochester, Philadelphia and New York City[citation needed] the previous year, and continuing throughout the remainder of the decade: San Francisco[citation needed] and Cleveland in 1966; Detroit, Newark, and Baltimore[citation needed] in 1967; and Baltimore, New York[citation needed], Washington, and Chicago[citation needed] in 1968. On July 24, 1964 a riot broke out in two of Rochester, New Yorks predominantly African-American wards. ... The Philadelphia race riot took place in the predominantly black neighborhoods of North Philadelphia from August 28 to August 30, 1964. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... “San Francisco” redirects here. ... The Hough Riots, were race riots in the predominantly black community of Hough in Cleveland, Ohio that took place over a six-night period from July 18 to July 23, 1966. ... The riot featured on the cover of the August 4, 1967 edition of Time magazine. ... The 1967 Newark Riots were a major civil disturbance that occurred in the city of Newark, New Jersey between July 12 and July 17, 1967. ... Baltimore redirects here. ... The Baltimore Riot of 1968 started in reaction to the murder of Martin Luther King. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... The riots of April 4–8, 1968 devastated Washington, D.C. Washington, Chicago, and Baltimore were the cities most impacted by civil unrest in over 110 U.S. cities in the aftermath of the April 4 assassination of American Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King, Jr. ... Flag Seal Nickname: The Windy City Motto: Urbs In Horto (Latin: City in a Garden), I Will Location Location in Chicagoland and northern Illinois Coordinates , Government Country State Counties United States Illinois Cook, DuPage Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) Geographical characteristics Area     City 606. ...


As a result of the riots, 34 people were officially reported killed (28 of those were African American), 1,032 people were injured, and 4,000 people were arrested. Among the dead were a fireman, an LA County deputy sheriff and a Long Beach police officer. The injured included 773 civilians, 90 Los Angeles police officers, 136 firefighters, 10 national guardsmen, and 23 persons from other governmental agencies. 118 of those injured were injured by firearms[1].

600 buildings were damaged or destroyed, and an estimated $35 million in damage was caused. Most of the physical damage was confined to 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. [citation needed]

Government intervention

Eventually, the California National Guard was called to active duty to assist in controlling the rioting. On Friday night, a battalion of the 160th Infantry and the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron of the 18th Armored Cavalry were sent into the riot area (about 2,000 men). Two days later, the remainder of the 40th Armored Division was sent into the riot zone. A day after that, units from northern California arrived (a total of around 15,000 troops). These National Guardsmen put a cordon around a vast region of South Central Los Angeles, and for all intents and purposes the rioting was over by Sunday. Due to the seriousness of the riots, martial law had been declared. The initial commander of National Guard troops was Colonel Bud Taylor, then a motorcycle patrolman with the Los Angeles Police Department, who in effect became superior to Chief of Police Parker. A California gubernatorial commission investigated the riots, identifying the causes as high unemployment, poor schools, and other inferior living conditions. Subsequently, the government made little effort to address the problems or repair damages. The riots were also a response to Proposition 14, a constitutional amendment sponsored by the California Real Estate Association that had in effect repealed the Rumford Fair Housing Act.[1] The United States National Guard is a reserve forces component of the United States Army (the Army National Guard) and the United States Air Force (the Air National Guard). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... In 1963 the Rumford Fair Housing Act was passed by the state of California to help end racial discrimination by property owners and landlords who refused to rent or sell their property to colored customers. ... The Rumford Fair Housing Act is described in the article for Proposition 14. ...

The Black Panther Party of Self-Defense formed in Oakland, California approximately one year after the riots.-1...

Cultural references

  • The film There Goes My Baby features the riots.
  • Singer-songwriter Phil Ochs composed in "In the Heat of the Summer" about the riots, shortly after they took place. The song was most famously covered by Judy Collins, who included it on her Judy Collins' Fifth Album in late 1965.
  • The novel The New Centurions, by Joseph Wambaugh, not only culminates in the Watts Riot but examines the negative impact of police in minority communities in the years preceding it.
  • In the film Dark Blue, Detective Eldon Perry (Kurt Russell) talks to his partner about the beating of Rodney King. He tells his partner of being a teenager during the riots, in the wake of the Rodney King riots set in the actual film timeline. He talks of shooting several blacks with his Daddy's hunting rifle who were looting a Woolworth's store.
  • Frank Zappa wrote a lyrical commentary inspired by the Watts Riots, entitled "Trouble Every Day", containing such lines as "Wednesday I watched the riot / Seen the cops out on the street / Watched 'em throwin' rocks and stuff /And chokin' in the heat". The song was originally released on his debut album Freak Out! (with the original Mothers of Invention), and later slightly rewritten as "More Trouble Every Day", available on Roxy and Elsewhere and The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life, among other albums.
  • The title article in Tom Wolfe's collection of essays, The Pump House Gang, is about a group of surfers from Windansea Beach in La Jolla, California who "attended the Watts riots as if it were the Rose Bowl game in Pasadena." (See [2] for an excerpt.)
  • In the U.S. television series, Quantum Leap, an episode called "Black on White on Fire" features Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) put into the body of a black medical student who is in love with the white daughter of a police captain. This episode begins on the eve of the Watts riots.
  • The rallying cry of "burn, baby, burn" came from KGFJ radio personality Magnificent Montague. Montague was not directly responsible; he was fond of yelling "Burn!" when he played a record that particularly interested him and his listeners followed suit when they called him on the air.
  • "Burn, Baby, Burn" is also the title of an episode of the television series Dark Skies, which takes place in the midst of the Watts riots.
  • A fictitious version of the Watts riots are depicted in the NBC miniseries The '60s.
  • The 1990 film Heat Wave depicts the Watts Riots from the perspective of journalist Bob Richardson as a resident of Watts and a reporter of the riots for the LA Times.
  • The Movie "Menace II Society" also made mentioning of the infamous riots in the beginning of the film as a precursor to the slowly emerging drug and gang culture in Los Angeles.
  • Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air says he was at the Watts Riots.
  • In the first chapter of the novel Blood on the Moon by James Ellroy, Lloyd Hopkins, the main character, participates in the pacification of the Watts neighbourhood as a member of the National Guard. He later becomes an L.A.P.D. officer.
  • The riot is mentioned in the film American History X in which the Nazi skinhead main character Derek Vinyard argues with his mother and her date about how racial tensions build into riots.
  • The riot may have been the inspiration for the song Down Rodeo by L.A. band Rage Against the Machine.
  • Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, the 4th film in the Planet of the Apes film series, reputedly drew inspiration from the Watts Riots.
  • California punk rock band American Steel, in their song "Loaded Gun," reference the riots in the line "I didn't see Watts burn, but I felt the embers."

There Goes My Baby may refer to: There Goes My Baby (song), a 1959 single by Ben E. King and The Drifters There Goes My Baby, a song Donna Summer from her 1984 album Cats Without Claws There Goes My Baby, song by Diana Ross from her 1987 album Red... Philip David Ochs (December 19, 1940–April 9, 1976) was a U.S. protest singer (or, as he preferred, a topical singer), songwriter, musician and recording artist who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, earnest humanism, political activism, insightful and alliterative lyrics, and haunting voice. ... Judy Collins Judith Marjorie Collins (born May 1, 1939 in Seattle, Washington) is an American folk and standards singer. ... Judy Collins Fifth Album was an album by Collins issued in 1965 It featured a a collection of traditional ballads and singer-songwriter material from Bob Dylan, Richard Farina, Phil Ochs and Malvina Reynolds. ... Year 1965 (MCMLXV) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the 1965 Gregorian calendar. ... The New Centurions, written by Joseph Wambaugh, is a novel depicting the stresses of police work in Los Angeles, California in the early 1960s. ... Dark Blue is a 2002 film directed by Ron Shelton. ... Kurt Vogel Russell (born March 17, 1951) is an American actor. ... Rodney King Rodney Glen King (born April 2, 1965 in Sacramento, California) is an African-American taxi driver who was violently arrested by officers of the LAPD (Ofc. ... The 1992 L.A. Riots, popularly known as the LA riots or the Rodney King riots, was sparked by the acquittal on April 29, 1992 of four officers (three non-Hispanic whites and one Hispanic) charged with the use of excessive force in the beating of black motorist Rodney King... A rifle is any long gun which has a rifled barrel. ... The F. W. Woolworth Company (often referred to as Woolworths) was a retail company that was one of the original American five-and-dime stores. ... Frank Vincent Zappa[1] (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American composer, musician, and film director. ... Freak Out!, released June 27, 1966 on MGM/Verve Records, is the debut album of The Mothers of Invention, led by Frank Zappa. ... The Mothers of Invention were a rock and roll band active from the 1960s to the 1990s. ... Cover of Roxy & Elsewhere (1974) Roxy & Elsewhere is a live Frank Zappa album which was released in 1974. ... The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life is a double disc live album by Frank Zappa, released in 1991 (see 1991 in music). ... For the early 20th century American novelist, see Thomas Wolfe. ... The Pump House Gang is a 1968 collection of essays and journalism by Tom Wolfe. ... Windansea Beach encompasses a historic stretch of scenic coastline located in La Jolla, a community in San Diego, California. ... One of the beaches at La Jolla Cove La Jolla, California, is a seaside resort community comprised of 42,808[1] residents within the city of San Diego. ... The Rose Bowl is an annual American college football game, usually played on January 1 at the stadium of the same name in Pasadena, California. ... Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. ... Quantum Leap is a science fiction television series that ran for 97 episodes from March 1989 to May 1993 on NBC. It follows the adventures of Dr. Samuel Beckett (played by Scott Bakula), a brilliant scientist who after researching time-travel, and doing experiments in something he calls The Imaging... Scott Stewart Bakula (born October 9, 1954) is an American actor who played leading roles in two science fiction television series: Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise. ... KYPA, AM 1230, is a Korean-language radio station in Los Angeles, California. ... Magnificent Montague (b. ... Dark Skies is an United States sci-fi/drama television series which aired 1996-1997 for 20 episodes. ... The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American television network headquartered in the GE Building in New York Citys Rockefeller Center. ... The Los Angeles Times (also L.A. Times) is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California and distributed throughout the Western United States. ... Blood on the Moon is a crime fiction novel written by famous and noteworthy crime author James Ellroy. ... James Ellroy (born Lee Earle Ellroy on March 4, 1948 in Los Angeles, California) is an American writer. ... The United States National Guard is a reserve forces component of the United States Army (the Army National Guard) and the United States Air Force (the Air National Guard). ... The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is the police department of the City of Los Angeles, California. ... American History X is a 1998 film directed by Tony Kaye. ... A Nazi skinhead from Germany Nazi skinheads are a far right subculture that developed in the United Kingdom around the late 1970s. ... The protagonist is the central figure of a story, and is often referred to as a storys main character. ... Down Rodeo was a promotional single by Rage Against the Machine sent out to various American radio stations. ... This article is about the largest city in California. ... Rage Against the Machine (also Rage and RATM) is a Grammy Award-winning American rock band, noted for their blend of hip hop, heavy metal, punk and funk as well as their revolutionary politics and lyrics. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article is about the book. ... Punk rock is an anti-establishment music movement beginning around 1976 (although precursors can be found several years earlier), exemplified and popularised by The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. ... American Steel is a Californian Punk Rock band formed 1995. ...

See also

For other uses, see Los Angeles riots (disambiguation). ... The Watts Prophets are a group of musicians and poets from Watts, Los Angeles, California. ... Rodney King Rodney Glen King (born April 2, 1965 in Sacramento, California) is an African-American taxi driver who was violently arrested by officers of the LAPD (Ofc. ... Zoot Suit riots, June 1943 For the swing album by Cherry Poppin Daddies, see Zoot Suit Riot (album) The Zoot Suit Riots were a series of riots that erupted in Los Angeles, California during World War II, between sailors and soldiers stationed in the city and Mexican American youths, who... . ...

Further reading

  • Cohen, Jerry and William S. Murphy, Burn, Baby, Burn! The Los Angeles Race Riot, August, 1965, New York: Dutton, 1966.
  • Conot, Robert, Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness, New York: Bantam, 1967.
  • Guy Debord, Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy, 1965. A situationist interpretation of the riots
  • Horne, Gerald, "Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s," Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1995.
  • Thomas Pynchon, A Journey into the Mind of Watts, 1966. full text
  • Violence in the City -- An End or a Beginning?, A Report by the Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots, 1965, John McCone, Chairman, Warren M. Christopher, Vice Chairman. Official Report online
  • David O' Sears "The politics of violence;: The new urban Blacks and the Watts riot"
  • Clayton D. Clingan "Watts Riots"
  • Paul Bullock "Watts: The Aftermath" New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1969
  • the book, "little scarlet", takes place during the race riots

Guy Ernest Debord (December 28, 1931, in Paris – November 30, 1994, in Champot) was a writer, film maker, hypergraphist and founding member of the groups Lettrist International and Situationist International (SI). ... Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. ... John Alexander McCone (January 4, 1902 - February 14, 1991) was an American businessman and politician who served as Director of Central Intelligence during the height of the Cold War. ... Warren Minor Christopher (born October 27, 1925) is an American diplomat and lawyer. ...


  1. ^ Tracy Domingo, Miracle at Malibu Materialized, Graphic, November 14, 2002


  • Division of Fair Employment Practices, California Department of Industrial Relations (1966). Negroes and Mexican Americans in South and East Los Angeles. San Francisco: State of California, Division of Fair Employment Practices, 2. 

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Watts Riots - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (889 words)
This pattern of rioting continued all across the country in cities such as New York in 1964 and 1968, Detroit and Newark in 1967, San Francisco in 1966, Washington, DC in 1968, Baltimore in 1967 and 1968, and Chicago and Cleveland both in 1968.
The riots were also a response to Proposition 14, a constitutional amendment sponsored by the California Real Estate Association that had in effect repealed the Rumford Fair Housing Act.
A fictitious version of the Watts riots are depicted in the NBC miniseries The '60s.
Watts, Los Angeles, California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1212 words)
Three of Watts' most notorious gangs—Grape Street Watts Crips, Bounty Hunter Watts Bloods, and PJ Watts Crips—formed a cease-fire agreement after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, a pact that may have been tied to a decrease in crime in the area between 1992 and 2000.
In July 2005, Watts returned to the news when a police SWAT team accidentally killed 18-month-old Suzy Peña who was held hostage by her father at a used-car lot in the area.
Watts is bordered by the cities of South Gate on the east and Lynwood on the southeast, and the unincorporated areas of Willowbrook on the south and Florence on the north.
  More results at FactBites »



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