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Darkness falls in Watts during riots [updated]

Darkness falls in Watts during riots [updated]

Aug. 13, 1965: National Guard troops secure a stretch of 103rd Street, dubbed Charcoal Alley, in Watts to help Los Angeles authorities restore order. This image is looking east from Compton Avenue.

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 told 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.”

This iconic image by staff photographer John Malmin was published as Page One lead art in the Aug. 14, 1965, Los Angeles Times. Malmin died in 2003 at the age of 89. Here is a link to his Los Angeles Times obituary: John Malmin, 89; Former Times Photojournalist.

[Updated: This post was updated on Oct. 21, 2014, with a new scan of Malmin’s image and additional information from his obituary.]

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