As the country continues to deal with racial strife, fatal police encounters, and dogged economic inequality, the Watts protests has instructional value for advocates of racial justice and their adversaries. For the former, short-term improvements can prove to be fruitful and can be an important respite from the daily onslaught of racial oppression.
If the voices and concerns of ordinary Americans aren't at the center of this debate, we can expect the ticking time bomb of urban unrest to explode in more and more communities. Without major reforms, the recent upheavals in Ferguson and Baltimore may simply be a precursor to a wave of 21st century riots.
As a Moroccan national who visits the U.S. often, I have grown attached to the American people, their country, and the values they aspire to live by. And so it pains me to hear of incidents of police brutality, which violate the rule-of-law principles America stands for, and it pains me further when looting and assaults on police mar legitimate protests with further criminality.