The Intercultural Throughline Title

The Zoot Suit Riots, Los Angeles, June 3-8, 1943

The Zoot Suit Riots were a series of conflicts on June 3–8, 1943 in Los Angeles, California, United States, which pitted American servicemen stationed in Southern California against Mexican-American youths and other minorities who were residents of the city. It was one of the dozen wartime industrial cities that suffered racial-related riots in the summer of 1943, along with Mobile, Alabama; Beaumont, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; and New York City.

American servicemen and white civilians attacked and stripped children, teens, and youths who wore zoot suits, ostensibly because they considered the outfits to be unpatriotic during World War II, as they had a lot of fabric. Rationing of fabric was required at the time for the war effort. The conflicts were presumably rooted in racism against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. While most of the violence was directed toward Mexican-American youth, young African-American and Filipino-Americans who were wearing zoot suits were also attacked.

The Zoot Suit Riots were related to fears and hostilities aroused by the coverage of the Sleepy Lagoon murder trial, following the killing of a young Latino man in a barrio near Los Angeles. The riot appeared to trigger similar attacks that year against Latinos in Chicago, San Diego, Oakland, Evansville, Philadelphia, and New York City.

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