All History Masters of Photography

John Malmin | Darkness Falls in Watts

The Watts Riots by John Malmin, Los Angeles Times August 13, 1965

The Watts Riots by John Malmin, Los Angeles Times August 13, 1965

From the Los Angeles Times:

Aug. 13, 1965: National Guard troops secure a stretch of 103rd Street, dubbed Charcoal Alley, in Watts to help Los Angeles authorities restore order. The riots, sparked by the arrest of a black motorist for drunk driving, lasted for six days. After the violence, 34 people, 25 of them black, were dead and more than 1,000 were injured.

Bob Hipolito, the guardsman on the left, later tells The Times, “I was at the tail end of our infantry company, and that guy [Times photographer John Malmin] came up with an entourage of officers. He snapped a picture, and it flashed. Flashes weren’t what they wanted to have for fear they’d be shot at.”

Hipolito continued: “I saw that picture years ago, and thought, ‘Gee, it looks familiar.’ And then I saw the photographer’s obituary that said where it was taken. So I asked my wife if that looks like me, and she said, ‘Yeah, that’s your posture.’ It was taken on Friday the 13th, probably at 11:30 or 12 at night.”

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