In the summer of 1965, what the mainstream media deemed as a “riot” broke out in the Watts neighborhood of southern Los Angeles. Over a six-day period, 34 people were killed, 1,032 injured and over 3,438 arrests were made.
The African-American community in Watts came to its boiling pointing in August 1965 after years of police discrimination, exclusion from high-paying jobs and residential segregation. Racially restrictive covenants had kept 95 percent of Los Angeles real estate off-limits to the black and Asian communities which severely restricted education and economic opportunities.
Where the black community could buy homes in American suburbia and live out the middle-class dream, significant racial violence escalated. White gangs bombed homes and burnt crosses on the lawns. In response to the assaults, black mutual protection clubs formed and became the basis of the region’s fearsome street gangs.
Images courtesy of LIFE magazine.