The Dapper Rebels of Los Angeles, 1966

By

3rd Jan, 2013

20130103-190032.jpg

In the summer of 1965, riots broke out in the Watts neighborhood of southern Los Angeles. Over a six-day period, 34 people were killed, 1,032 injured and over 3,438 arrests were made. In 1966, LIFE magazine revisited the site of the worst riots America had ever seen in its history. The photo essay depicting the region’s ‘fearsome street gangs’ however, turned out more like a fashion shoot for dapper style…

Click on the images to enlarge.

Decked out in preppy cardigans, high-waisted rolled up trousers and Wayfarers to boot, these young men of South Central Los Angeles were an unmistakably dandy bunch in contrast to the considerably oppressive environment they were living in.

20130103-190042.jpg

The African-American community in Watts came to its boiling pointing in August 1965 after years of police discrimination, exclusion from high-paying jobs and residential segregation. Racially restrictive covenants had kept 95 percent of Los Angeles real estate off-limits to the black and Asian communities which severely restricted education and economic opportunities for them.

20130103-190114.jpg

Where the black community could buy homes in American suburbia and live out the middle-class dream, significant racial violence escalated. White gangs bombed homes and burnt crosses on the lawns. In response to the assaults, black mutual protection clubs formed and became the basis of the region’s fearsome street gangs.

20130103-190120.jpg

20130103-190124.jpg

20130103-190140.jpg

In the 1960s, the LAPD was especially known for its police brutality against the city’s Latino and black residents. The police chief, William Parker actually made it a policy for officers to ‘establish dominance’ over young black teens and pre-teens as a way of showing who was boss. Frequent beatings, wrongful arrests, assaults on women became the norm for the African American community. On the night of August 11th, the intimidation and racial injustices backfired and the Watts’ African American population reached breaking point.

20130103-190148.jpg

The riot started after a young African American was pulled over by police officers for suspicion of driving under the influence. When the driver’s family got involved, they were arrested too, including his mother. Local residents gathered and the situation intensified.  What starting with yelling escalated to hurling rocks, bricks and whatever they could find at the police. Twenty-nine people were arrested but it did not end there. By the following night Watts was in flames.

20130103-190203.jpg

20130103-190211.jpg

Rioters armed themselves and passionately shouted, “Burn baby burn” and “Long live Malcolm X.” Fires raged for four more days. A civil rights activist, Bayard Rustin wrote, “the whole point of the outbreak in Watts was that it marked the first major rebellion of Negroes against their own masochism and was carried on with the express purpose of asserting that they would no longer quietly submit to the deprivation of slum life.”

20130103-190217.jpg

20130103-190222.jpg

20130103-190236.jpg

Images found on this interesting Brazilian blog (written in Portuguese), Ubora, about urban retro style.

:::

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

.

You might also like

Comments

More in Art & Design AwesomenessEditor's PicksInspiration VaultNostalgiaTime travel

Hot Off the Press

Editor's Picks

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

5 Hidden Paris Enclaves

If you stay in Paris long enough, you'll no doubt end up with your own list of urban secrets. This city is full of them. All Parisians lay claim to favourite hidden spots which they unexpecte...

Trending 9,663
tornade-meteo-photo-ancienne-01 (1)

Fearless Photographs of the First Tornado Chasers

I must have watched the movie Twister nearly 30 times. You could say I was slightly obsessed with the critically-panned 90s blockbuster about storm-chasing starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton...

Trending 4,340
sampuru

The Alluring Art of Fake Food in Japan

They say we first eat with our eyes, and no one seems to understand this better than the Japanese restaurant industry. From a pot of thick gravy mid-pour over a perfectly cooked steak to an ice crea...

Trending 6,792
stasi3

Documenting a Stasi Prison

On East German maps of the time, the prison simply didn't exist, marked only with a blank space. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, unlike many other government and military institutions in East Ger...

Trending 3,572