The 1965 Watts Riots
1964 seemed to mark a turning point in America; with the passage of the Civil
Rights Act, a new age in race relations appeared to be dawning. But the states acted quickly to circumvent the new federal
law. California reacted with Proposition 14, which moved to block the fair housing components of the Civil Rights Act. This,
and other acts, created a feeling of injustice and despair in the inner cities.
On August 11, 1965, a routine traffic stop in South Central Los Angeles provided the spark that
lit the fire of those seething feelings. The riots lasted for six days, leaving 34 dead, over a thousand people injured, nearly
4,000 arested, and hundreds of buildings destroyed.
After the riots, then Governor Pat Brown named John McCone to head a commission to study the
riots. The report issued by the Commission concluded that the riots weren't the act of thugs, but rather symptomatic of much
deeper problems: the high jobless rate in the inner city, poor housing, bad schools. Although the problems were clearly pointed
out in the report, no great effort was made to address them, or to rebuild what had been destroyed in the riots.