Zoot Suit Riots Research Paper

Submitted By AprilMeows
Words: 603
Pages: 3

Abril Topete
May 16, 2013
Short Research Project: The Zoot Suit Riots There have been three major riots in L.A. since 1942, and coincidentally or not, each has a direct correlation with racial bias of the judicial system. While there is good cause to question whether mob mentality took over and created the riots themselves, the circumstances that created the perfect atmosphere for violence cannot be discounted. The Zoot Suit Riots of 1943 involved the predominately Mexican youth of central L.A. They faced discrimination and violence in their neighborhoods. In July 1942, a group of Hispanic youth fought back against police who attempted to break up a street corner gambling game. In October 1942, over 600 Chicano youth were arrested, and dozens charged, in the killing of Jose Diaz in a supposed gang brawl at the Sleepy Lagoon reservoir. The media and police were quick to label it a gang killing. After five months the jury reached a verdict. Of the twenty two boys, nine were found guilty of second degree murder and sent to San Quentin Prison. They were given five years to life. The others were found guilty of assault and received shorter sentences. The following year, clashes between white servicemen and Hispanic youth increased. The riots began amidst a period of rising tensions between American servicemen stationed in southern California and Los Angeles' Chicano community. Tension between the two had been building, partly due to the servicemen’s rowdy behavior and perceived disrespect to the Mexican community, and partly due to the Mexican youth’s territorialism and pride. Tensions between servicemen and civilians were on the rise as thousands of military men on leave poured into Los Angeles, using the city as a playground for booze, women, and fights. Due to the current wartime state of the country however, the media and most citizens gave favor to the servicemen, and portrayed the Mexican Zoot Suitors as gangsters and troublemakers. Visiting servicemen joined in harassing "zoot-suiters." In the spring and summer of 1943, tension between GIs and young Mexican American males turned violent. In Oakland and Venice, California, sailors and marines "raided" Chicano gatherings and attacked the zoot-suiters, stripping them of their clothes. Their clothing was ritualistically burned. Mexican American women were raped. For nearly two weeks, thousands of servicemen joined in the hunt for young zooters,…