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Zoot Suit Riots

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Zoot Suit Riots

Zoot Suit Riots

Zoot suits, associated with the Mexican race, consisted of a long jacket that reached almost to the knees, pants with a “tight stuff cuff”, a “wide, flat hat, and Dutch-toe shoes” (Berger 193). These zoot suits were worn by the Mexican youth who were accused of murder on August 2, 1942. People claimed that Jose Diaz was murdered by a gang that had broken up a party at Sleepy Lagoon ranch located close to Los Angeles. However, even though the lower court did convict them of murder, two years later the district court of appeals took that decision back by stating that there was not enough good evidence and that most of that decision was made based on prejudice issues. This incident became known as the “Sleepy Lagoon Affair” and was made an international topic, especially when it was made to look like Americans were making it a point to harm Latin-American citizens. Afterwards, the “Sleepy Lagoon Affair” opened the doorway to much more discrimination against Mexicans and brought many more riots to Los Angeles between Mexicans and Americans (Gorn 183).

Mexican-Americans were highly offended when American citizens, mostly the marines and soldiers, attacked any Mexican they saw on the street wearing a zoot suit. Some of the time these Mexicans were not part of a gang, but were attacked as revenge from that August night in 1942. Police officials were watching servicemen beat the Mexicans on the street then arresting the victims, saying that they provoked the riot (La Opinion 190). After seeing that police were not taking the proper measures to fully stop these beatings, the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles said that the Embassy was awaiting orders from the Mexican government and it was possible that there would be a formal protest to the United States government (New York Times 191). Obviously, to the Mexican race, these riots and beatings are extremely unfair and are taking measures to stop them.

After fellow service men were attacked, robbed, and beaten, marines and soldiers would ride the streets in big groups looking for any Mexican, especially wearing a zoot suit. They would usually take this Mexican and strip him of his pants and brutally beat him. To the servicemen, this was

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