Watts Riots Facts

Watts Riots Facts
The Watts Riots were a series of racial riots that took place in the predominantly black Watts section of Los Angeles, California from August 11 to 16, 1965. The Watts Riots were some of the first major race riots that took place across the United States from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. The riots took place amid tensions between members of the black community and the Los Angeles Police Department, which was viewed as being hostile toward blacks. The trigger for the riots happened when the police arrested a young black man for driving drunk. After his mother got involved the situation escalated and a fight broke out, which drew in members of the black community and rumors that the police had beaten a pregnant black woman. The rioting then broke out as street gangs and other got involved. Finally, after nearly a week of unrest, the California National Guard, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department were able to stop the unrest through mass arrests. The rioting resulted the destruction of nearly 270 buildings, took the lives of thirty-four people, and cost more than $40 million in damages.
Interesting Watts Riots Facts:
Although California didn't have the Jim Crow laws of the southern states during the era, laws and attitudes kept most blacks in southern California in the Watts neighborhood and some surrounding towns, such as Compton.
California Proposition 14 was passed in 1964, which effectively allowed landlords and realtors to deny applicants on the basis of race.
The Los Angeles Chief of Police at the time was William H. Parker (1905-1966). Parker became notorious for letting his officers bend and even break the rules, which was fairly effective at not allowing many organized crime groups from getting a hold in L.A.
Although Parker was viewed by many as racist, and his policies certainly were tough on criminals in black and Hispanic neighborhoods, he ordered the desegregation of the police department in 1962, three years before the Watts Riots.
The original incident and the riots began at the intersection of Avalon Boulevard and 116th Street.
The riots took on a racial tone early when the overwhelmingly black rioters attacked and looted non-black businesses. The rioters also attacked white and Hispanic motorists who were unfortunate enough to be driving through the area during the riots.
The state of California conducted an official study on the causes and results of the riots, known as the McCone Commission. The commission ruled that the roots causes of riots were a combination of factors, including unemployment.

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