On This Day…

Watts Riots

August 11, 1965

Six days of rioting begin in Los Angeles after the arrest of Marquette Frye. 34 people were killed with $40,000,000 in damage. 21-year-old African-American Marquette Frye was pulled over for reckless driving. After administering a field sobriety test, the officer placed Frye under arrest and radioed for his vehicle to be impounded. Frye’s brother, Ronald, a passenger in the vehicle, walked to their nearby house, and brought their mother, Rena Price, back to the scene of the arrest. A scuffle ensued in which Price was shoved. She then attacked a police officer. Rumors began to spread that the police had roughed up Frye and kicked a pregnant woman. Angry mobs started yelling and throwing objects at the police. The crowd continued to grow after the arrest of Frye, his brother, and his mother, and continued to grow through the night and next day. When the rioting erupted, 2,300 National Guardsman and 16,000 law enforcement personnel were called in. The streets of Watts turned into a war zone. It is estimated that between 31,000 and 35,000 adults participated in the riots. Over the six days of rioting, there were 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries, 3,438 arrests, and over $40 million in property damage.