DISCOURS DU PRÉSIDENT DES ÉTATS-UNIS À LA SUITE DES ÉMEUTES DE WATTS
Date: 15 août 1965
À la suite d'une altercation avec les forces policières, des émeutes raciales éclatent dans Watts, un quartier majoritairement noir de Los Angeles. Les six jours de violence qui suivent se soldent par un bilan désolant : 35 morts, plus de 1 100 blessés et des dégâts matériels évalués à 35 millions de dollars. Une fois l'ordre restauré, le président Lyndon B. Johnson en appelle à ses compatriotes afin de trouver des solutions aux problèmes qui ont été à l'origine de ces émeutes.
Sélection et mise en page par l'équipe de Perspective monde
THE PEOPLE of the Nation, as well as the city of Los Angeles, feel a deep sense of relief as order is being restored to the frightened streets of that city.
The action of Governor Brown and other California officials is another vindication of the principle of local responsibility for maintaining law and order. The Federal Government, by word and act, has offered any help that might be required.
But it is the State of California and the city of Los Angeles which are meeting the crisis. And, in so doing, demonstrating again the wisdom of our Federal principles.
However, the riots in Los Angeles are more than State concerned. It is not simply that what happened there can happen elsewhere. It is also that the Los Angeles disorders flow from a violent breach of rooted American principles.
The first is that injustices of our society shall be overcome by the peaceful processes of our society. There is no greater wrong, in our democracy, than violent, willful disregard of law. If men live decently it is because obedience to legal process saved their lives and allowed them to enlarge those lives.
To resort to terror and violence not only shatters the essential fight of every citizen to be secure in his home, his shop, and in the streets of his town; it strikes from the hand of the Negro the very weapons with which he is achieving his own emancipation.
Those who strike at the fabric of ordered liberty also erode the foundation on which the house of justice stands.
The enforcement of this central truth is the responsibility of all Americans, and is a special challenge to the Negro community and those who are its leaders.
But it is not enough simply to decry disorder. We must also strike at the unjust conditions from which disorder largely flows. For the second great American principle is that all shall have an equal chance to share in the blessings of our society.
As I have said, time and time again, aimless violence finds fertile ground among men imprisoned by the shadowed walls of hatred, coming of age in the poverty of slums, facing their future without education or skills and with little hope of rewarding work. These ills, too, we are working to wipe out.
We must not only be relentless in condemning violence, but also in taking the necessary steps to prevent violence. We must not let anger drown understanding if domestic peace is ever to rest on its only sure foundation--the faith of all our people that they share, in opportunity and in obligation, the promise of American life.