Details of the 1965 Watts Riot Retold Through Twitter

Riots in the Watts section with Negro youths carrying armloads of clothes running from looted stores, Los Angeles, California, August 1965. (Photo: Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Details of the 1965 Watts Riot Retold Through Twitter

The details of the 1965 Watts Riot was live-tweeted to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the events.

Published August 13, 2015

It has been 50 years since The Watts Riots and details surrounding the events are being live-tweeted on a Twitter account called @WattsRiots50. The riots occurred between Aug. 11 and Aug. 17, 1965.

The above tweets describe the riots as they began to escalate on the night of Aug. 11, 1965.

An arrest made that night ultimately sparked the Watts riots, one of the most historic race-related riots in the nation’s history. White California Highway Patrolman Lee W. Minikus pulled over and arrested Marquette Frye, a young African-American driver whom he suspected of drunk driving.


Triggered by growing tension between the police officers and a crowd of onlookers, a violent exchange quickly erupted. The outbreak following Frye’s arrest instantly spread to surrounding areas, inciting a large-scale riot in the commercial section of Watts, a destitute African-American neighborhood located in South Central Los Angeles.

As a result, 14,000 California National Guard troops were assembled throughout the area and a curfew zone was established. Thirty-four people died, over 1,000 people were wounded and nearly 3,500 people were arrested over the course of six days.

The largest and costliest urban revolt of the civil rights era, the Watts Riot produced an estimated $50 million to $100 million in property damage. Mixed messages about the riot circulated the media, including debates on whether those involved were thugs or merely reflecting their disadvantaged environments.  

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(Photo: Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Written by BET-Staff


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