In the News: Joseph Wambaugh on The Watts Riots (Op-Ed, LA Times, 2015)

By Joseph Wambaugh

Commentary Opinion Crime Riots Law Enforcement Fires Los Angeles Police Department

“At 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 12, 1965, about 2,000 people gather at 116th and Avalon. Tension is still high after the mob violence of the previous night following the arrest of an alleged drunk driver, but the people are not rioting.

A short time later, random shots are fired at a police vehicle on Imperial Highway, but there are no reports of massive rioting. Many of the officers in police divisions north of 77th Street Station listen on police radios and do not believe that the volatile unrest near Watts will spread to other parts of South Los

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A group of Los Angeles police officers stand together during the Watts riots on Aug. 11, 1965.

(Los Angeles Times)

Joseph Wambaugh, a former LAPD sergeant, is the author of 21 books of fiction and nonfiction about police and crime. He was assigned to Juvenile Division in 1965.

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