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Watts: the last word

The Watts Story - Final Words

In 1992 the acquittal of LA police officers in the Rodney King beating ignited another riot in the Los Angeles area. The 1992 riots ended with costs around $1 billion dollars, the most costly riot in American history. Fifty-two people were killed and 16,291 people were arrested. The riot in 1992 was unlike the 1965 where the majority of rioters were black. Instead the percentage of those arrested were 36.9% Latino and only 29.9% were black. There also was a larger amount of whites who were arrested. The scope of the riots went beyond the boundries of Watts reaching Hollywood, the West Wide, the San Fernando Valley, and the edge of Beverly Hills.

Hope for Watts

Much of the rioting consisted of looting of stores in local neighborhoods where people lived. While much of Los Angeles was burning only a few commerical buildings in Watts burned. Other neighborhood grocery stored were looted. Neighbors in Watts went to their local grocery store and guarded it from vandals. People were beginning to see the value in their neighborhood. Just after the riots a gang truce was called in Watts between two rival gangs, the Crips and the Bloods.

Hope for Watts has been slowly building in this community that has had to endure so much.


In June 1995, Habitat for Humanity hosted the Jimmy Carter Work Project. President and Mrs. Carter, along with 2500 eager volunteers, "blitz-built" 21 homes in the Watts community of south central Los Angeles. Since 1995, they have finished another eleven homes at the same site. They also have plans to build more homes at 96th Street in Watts.

"Habitat for Humanity works in partnership with God, the community, and people in need by building and renovating homes to make affordable housing a matter of conscience and action." -Habitat for Humanity FAQ


Unemployment is still high in the Watts area. Only recently has commerical development been happening in Watts. A Dennys restuarant has been built in Watts. It had been 30 years since a restuarant was in Watts. Dennys and other business that plan to invest in Watts will create jobs for people. If you'd like to find out other recent news in Watts check out the LA Times Online Watts Neighborhood Section


Every year the Los Angeles Unified School District publishes results from student competency tests. Elementary schools in Watts have repeatly scored well below the 50% competency for its students.

World Impact, a Christian based orginization built a private elementary school near Imperial Courts low income housing in Watts in 1994. The school offers parents to send their children to the school for only $50 a month. The cost of schooling is reduced even more if one parents volunteers at the school. The school also serves the community in other programs such as food drives and adult education.


The race makeup of Watts has changed over the years. Today ethnic composition of Watts is currently 60% African American and 40% Hispanic.