On This Day In 1965: Watts Erupts In Race Riot; Black Anger Meets White Backlash : It's All Politics Forty-four years ago today, the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts erupts into the worst race riot in recent U.S. history, leaving 34 people dead.
NPR logo On This Day In 1965: Watts Erupts In Race Riot; Black Anger Meets White Backlash

On This Day In 1965: Watts Erupts In Race Riot; Black Anger Meets White Backlash

Aug. 11, 1965:

The arrest of a black person by a white police officer in Watts touched off claims of police brutality, resulting in six days of riots that left 34 dead. hide caption

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Following the arrest of a black driver by a white highway patrolman, and subsequent charges of police brutality, the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles erupts in a race riot. Six days later, the costs will be 34 deaths, 856 injured, and damages approaching $200 million.

Politically, the black violence will lead to a white backlash that many will say was responsible for Gov. Pat Brown's defeat at the hands of Ronald Reagan in the 1966 elections.

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