Woman whose arrest triggered 1965 Watts riot dies

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 23, 2013 at 12:38 am •  Published: June 23, 2013
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The woman who intervened when an officer pulled over one of her sons, leading to a racially-charged scuffle that set off the 1965 Watts riot, has died.

Rena Price died of natural causes June 10 in Los Angeles, her son Wendell Price told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/12hWWfY). She was 97.

On August 11, 1965 Price rushed from her home in South Los Angeles to a nearby traffic stop where a white California Highway Patrol officer had pulled over her son Marquette Frye.

Accounts vary on what set off the scuffle, but a patrolman hit Frye on the head with a baton, his mother jumped on another officer, tearing his shirt, then another officer pulled out a shotgun.

A growing crowd witnessed police arrest Price, Frye and his brother Ronald, who was a passenger in the car. After rumors spread that police had roughed up a black woman, angry mobs formed and six days of rioting raged across the city. Thirty-four people were killed, more than 1,000 injured and hundreds of buildings were damaged or destroyed.

The riot exposed deep fractures between blacks and an overwhelmingly white law enforcement community.

After the Fryes' names appeared in news accounts about the riot's inception, most of the family began using the last name Price, which belonged to the father of one of her children, her son Wendell told the Times.

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