The Watts Riots Essay

1466 words - 6 pages

Imagine being born in a place where people don't mix with one another and keep to their own kind. Imagine not being able to walk into a store because it is white owned. How would it feel if you were black, lived in a city that was run by a white government, where poverty, unemployment and lack of education were all problems of everyday life? If everyone were treated equally, then it would not be a problem. But for inner city African Americans that isn't the case. As humans, there is only so much we can take when it comes to segregation before we act out. There is only so much hate a person can take before letting it be known, once a person is pushed over that threshold there is no holding back. Overwhelming hate and anger with revenge takes hold and all thoughts of consequences rushes out of a person's body. The only thought remaining is violence, which is where rioting comes into play. All it takes are a few people to start protesting and yelling then the next thing you know you have a group of people then a mob. People are like sheep. When a person sees another person doing it, then they are more inclined to join in. Someone then throws a rock, then a bottle, and then all of a sudden here comes an array of Molctov Cocktails and guns. You then have a mob of people with built up tension and anger, ready to crush and destroy whatever stands in their way of their demonstration.

Central Los Angeles, California was blown away by one of those demonstrations. "It was the worst urban riot since the 1943 disturbance in Detroit" (Bradley 896). According to reports, the Los Angeles riot all started on the evening of August 11, 1965: Two white California Highway Patrol Officers pursued a weaving automobile for

six blocks before stopping and arresting the driver, twenty-one year old Marquette

Frye. Frye reportedly resisted arrest and attempted to flee. The scuffle attracted

a small crowd of angry onlookers, which included Frye's mother and brother.

They were also arrested. (Auerbach 1688) That's all it took for this riot to come into play, a few people unhappy about the way the police handled the situation. The next thing you know its a few thousand unhappy people.

In the Watts community, at that time, there were five hundred and forty thousand African Americans. Many of them had immigrated from the south in search of better work opportunities, as well as freedom from injustice and inequalities (Auerbach 1687).

Once the police arrested Marquette Frye, angry Watts's residents began stoning passing cars and setting them on fire (Bradley 895).Two days later, on the morning of August 13th, massive amounts of people marched into the business district and started a free-for-all on the local stores. Firebombs and attacks against white owned businesses followed. Then they started dragging people from their cars and beating them. Watts had a storehouse of combustible materials located on the southeast side...

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