Still Down but Not Out

Twenty years after the riots, Watts wrestles with old problems

Even in a turbulent era rocked by Birminghams and Little Rocks, the hellish rioting in Watts in the mid-1960s set a stunning new level for civil violence. Touched off improbably enough by a simple traffic arrest that brought police and blacks into conflict, the disturbance rumbled into rock-throwing disorder that soon exploded into almost a week of looting, arson and assault. With entire blocks reduced to ash and rubble, the name Watts came to signify not just a black ghetto in south-central Los Angeles but black unrest across the U.S. By the time troops and police brought peace to what had...

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