Tomorrow is 03 June and the anniversary of a riot in Los Angeles in 1943 between US military personnel and the Mexican-American community….
What is known as the “Zoot Suit Riots” occurred between the gangs of predominantly black and Mexican youths who were at the forefront of the zoot-suit subculture, and the predominantly white American servicemen stationed along the Pacific coast. On the night of June 3, 1943, eleven sailors on shore leave stated that they were attacked by a group of Mexican pachucos. In response to this, a group of over 200 uniformed sailors chartered 20 cabs and charged into the Mexican American community in East Los Angeles. Any zoot suiter was fair game. On this and the following nights, many a zoot suiters were beaten by this mob and stripped of their clothes, their zoot suits, on the spot. Nine sailors were arrested during these disturbances, not one was charged with any crime. On the following nights of June 4th and 5th, the uniformed servicemen (by this time the sailors had been joined by soldiers and marines) again invaded East Los Angeles, marching abreast down the streets, breaking into bars and theaters, and assaulting anyone in their way. Not one was arrested by the Police or the Sheriff. In fact, the servicemen were portrayed in the local press as heroes stemming the tide of the “Mexican Crime Wave.” During the nights of June 6th and 7th, these scenes were again repeated. Time Magazine later reported that, “The police practice was to accompany the caravans of soldiers and sailors in police cars, watch the beatings and jail the victims.” Police arrested over 600 Chicano youths without cause and labeled the arrests ‘preventive’ action. Los Angelenos cheered on the servicemen and their civilian allies.” Finally, at midnight on June 7th, the military authorities moved to stop the rioting of their personnel, and Los Angeles was declared off limits for all military personnel.
Source: The Zoot Suit Riots
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