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[Watts August 11 1965] Rena Price rushed from her home in South Los Angeles to a nearby traffic stop where a white California Highway Patrol officer had pulled over her son Marquette Frye. Accounts vary on what set off the scuffle, but a patrolman hit Frye on the head with a baton and his mother jumped on another officer. A crowd witnessed their arrests. After rumors spread that police had roughed up a black woman, angry mobs formed and six days of deadly rioting ensued.


the six days

resulted in more than forty million dollars worth of property damage, [and] was both the largest and costliest urban rebellion of the Civil Rights era...

also, after visiting Los Angeles at the height of the riot:

MLKJR  wrote an article for the Saturday Review in which he argued that Los Angeles could have anticipated rioting ‘‘when its officials tied up federal aid in political manipulation; when the rate of Negro unemployment soared above the depression levels of the 1930s; when the population density of Watts became the worst in the nation,’’ and when the state of California repealed a law that prevented discrimination in housing…

though it didn’t sit well with many that Dr. King

…arrived in Watts at the head of a ten car motorcade.

later that fall, at an SCLC gathering in Chicago, he said

‘‘What did Watts accomplish but the death of thirty-four Negroes and injury to thousands more? What did it profit the Negro to burn down the stores and factories in which he sought employment? The way of riots is not a way of progress, but a blind ally of death and destruction which wrecks its havoc hardest against the rioters themselves’’

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