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 Conversation StartersDon't Be A TouristEditor's PicksHow to start a subcultureLife is MessyOff-Beat & Little Known

Hot Off the Press

Editor's Picks

paristrains

Last Train to Paris

Take the most romantic city in the world and the most romantic way to travel, put the two together and you've got my attention. Paris was the original starting point for the legendary Orient Expres...

Trending 279
102657544_Johnniac_user_console_0009-4-as-Smart-Object-1-copy-550x550

Antique Computer Nostalgia

At the rate computer technology is advancing, photographer Mark Richards' collection of computers are indeed historical. These machines are officially antiques. As someone that enjoys pressing but...

Trending 619
Bohemian_Grove_Camp_-_Garnett,_Sterling,_London

Bohemian Grove: The Secret Society Summer Camp

I just spent the morning finding out everything I can on the Bohemian Grove. For two weeks every summer, the 2,700 acre secured private camp in the Ancient Redwood Forest of Northern California, pl...

Trending 1,582
playboypink

13 Things I Found on the Internet Today (Vol. CXC)

1. The socialite buried wearing a lace nightgown inside her 1964 Ferrari Sandra West was a Beverly Hills socialite and wife of Texas oil tycoon Ike West. When she made her will, she requested th...

Trending 2,724
antleroom

Inside the Shed of the Antlerman

I'm slightly nervous about posting this article. Not only am I a little freaked out by this place myself, but I have a feeling I might get some flak for it. The problem is, I'm completely in awe ...

Trending 3,261