What transpired next is still not fully clear. But Officer Minikus and the driver of the car, Marquette Frye, a 21-year-old black man, were first seen joking. Then something happened — and rumors quickly spread through the neighborhood that Mr. Frye’s mother arrived and scolded her son for being drunk, and then she or her son or both were beaten by the police.
As the police took Mr. Frye away to jail, he said in an interview years later, he overheard a friend say, “Don’t worry; we’re going to burn this mother down.”
That’s exactly what happened.
From Aug. 11 to Aug. 16, riots erupted in Watts, a predominately black neighborhood south of downtown, and spread to several dozen square miles of Los Angeles, which had a population of about 2.5 million. About 20,000 Guard members were called in and an additional 1,000 police officers were brought in to try to restore peace, as a chunk of Los Angeles turned into a war zone. Snipers shot at the police and fires raged.
“It’s a mess,” Lieut. Gen. Roderick Hill of the California National Guard told The New York Times.
The state issued a curfew starting at 8 p.m. on Aug. 14 for 46.5 square miles of Los Angeles, including Watts, which encompassed hundreds of thousands of people. In the end, 34 people died, including some law enforcement officers, and thousands were injured. More than 600 buildings were damaged.
1967: Police raid in Detroit
The spark that set off five days of riots in Detroit was a police raid at a after-hours club popular with the city’s black residents on July 23, 1967. Nearly 100 people were arrested, and word spread. A mob of people showed up outside the bar on 12th Street and started pelting the police with bottles and bricks, the start of multiple days of unrest, looting and violence.
Source: New York Times