History of California

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1965 Aug 11 - 1962 Aug 15

Watts Riots

Watts, Los Angeles, CA, USA

On August 11, 1965, Marquette Frye, a 21-year-old African-American man, was pulled over for drunken driving. After he failed a field sobriety test, officers attempted to arrest him. Marquette resisted arrest, with assistance from his mother, Rena Frye; a physical confrontation ensued in which Marquette was struck in the face with a baton. Meanwhile, a crowd of onlookers had gathered. Rumors spread that the police had kicked a pregnant woman who was present at the scene. Six days of civil unrest followed, motivated in part by allegations of police abuse. Nearly 14,000 members of the California Army National Guard helped suppress the disturbance, which resulted in 34 deaths, as well as over $40 million in property damage. It was the city's worst unrest until the Rodney King riots of 1992.