White Flight and Restrictive Covenants:
Gentrification after the Watts Riot
(Editorial) By Deante Perkins
The city of Watts located in Los Angeles California is known for being one of the most violent cities in the area. A lot of unhealthy events took place in Watts during the nineteen sixties around the time when the civil right movement took place. The Watts riot was one of the most devastating of them all; buildings were destroyed, burned down and vandalized. A lot of property was damage and there was a need for rebuilding and remodeling. This was also around the time when gangs started to develop among the blacks, whites, and Latinos. Before the blacks and Latinos moved into the neighborhood Watts was pretty much predominately white. The housing cost were more expensive and the streets and were more profound.
During this time the Los Angeles area was already gentrified. There was no need for building new restaurant and housing. The city was perfectly structured and fit for the community. Yes there was still gang violence going on but not as much conflict between races because there was only one dominate race living in Los Angeles area. After World War 2 was when all the conflict started in the American cities. This occurred because blacks were able to afford middle class house due to money paid out to those who survived the war. Blacks were also able to attend public schooling, which caused even more conflict between the two races. This is when blacks decided to form their own gangs to defend themselves against the white gangs. This is when the blood and crip gangs began. Even after the White flight when whites began to realize that they did not have enough power to force African Americans out of the community and fled the town themselves gangs still continued. There was a form of territory control with the black and Latino gangs, but this was not the reason the city was destroyed. There was also racial tension building up against the police departments and blacks. We as African Americans felt that we were being treated unfair; we felt we were being treated as criminals.
This led to extreme disaster on August 11 1965 when the officer William Parker pulled over Marquette Frye over for driving under the influence of alcohol. Although Mr. Frye had his family in the car who were not intoxicated, his brother Ronald Frye and mother; the officer would not let brother drive them home. This escalated into a furious battle when the police officer began to get over aggressive with Mr. Frye. It escalated into a fight that lasted six days when other African American jumped in to defend Frye and his family. This Incident was recorded in history as the Watts roit because a mass of destruction occurred. Two thousand plus people injured and thirty four people died. Buildings were burned down and destroyed and some just vandalized. Most damages were done to white business, but not to their homes. In result to this tragic event the housing and equity was tremendously lowered and the city was practically completely destroyed. The skies were filled with black smoke and ash from the burning buildings, and junk and broken glass was all over the streets.
According to the experience of Vincente R. Bonillia, during the Watts rebellion some people were not aware of what was going on when the watts riot first broke out. Vincente himself did not know what was going on. He says when he walked out the house to go to work all he saw people running around tussling with the police and burning down buildings. He also said some people buildings were not burned down due to the fact that they were liked within the community. Other would stand on top of their building with rifles and hand guns protecting their property. Churches and other religious organizations did not get involved with the rebellion because of the fact that they knew that they could be hurt.
Today Watts is still a junky place but there have been modifications done to it over the years. More buildings have been built to gentrify the community but not enough; the Watts community now is predominately black and Latino and is still raging out of control. I guess it’s because of the fact that gangs still exist in that area, multiple gangs. The property has been vandalized by its own community and graffiti controls the streets of Watts. The property value is still low and more houses and homes are being converted into smaller units. Home owners are now breaking their homes down into small units and renting them out to the public because the value of their homes is too low to sale for a reasonable profit. There is also more fast food restaurant oppose to dining restaurant because of the lack of money in the economic area.
Even after all the rebuilding and remodeling of Watts after the Watts Rebellion the housing and property of watts is still at a low value. I believe that the city of Watts needs to be gentrified. It needs better business and housing and most of all a better attitude from the community. People in the watts community need to take better care of property. More things should be done to make the streets of Watts look more profound.