The Zoot-Suit Riot Background Racial Tension filled Japanese-Americans America during the were the target of 1940s. terrorist acts. The attack on Pearl All Japanese people were Harbor resulted in assigned to American terrorist attacks within concentration camps. the U.S. particularly on Social Unrest and racial the west coast. violence does not stop with the Japanese- Americans. Mexican-Americans Shortage of labor in California during the 1940s. 200,000 Mexican-Americans were sent to LA in 1943, to work. Racial clashes between the whites and the Mexican-Americans occurred. El Pachuco Zoot-Suits were the trend among Mexican-American youth in LA. These unconventional, baggy suits were seen as a threat to the culture. The zooters were percieved as hoodlums, and racial violence began centering around anyone who was seen wearing one. Sleepy Lagoon Murder The murder of Jose Diaz in August of 1942, led to the unjustified round-up of hundreds of Mexican-American men and the arrest of 23. Los Angeles police Lieutenant Edward Duran Ayres testified as a witness for the prosecution. He stated that Mexicans were biologically prone to violence and crime due to their "oriental" Aztec ancestry. This racist testimony resulted in the conviction of twelve young Mexican- Americans. Zoot-Suit Riot of 1943 The “Sleepy Lagoon Murder,” resulted in rumors of Zooters being criminals. On June 3, 1943, hundreds of American service men went downtown and attacked anyone wearing a zoot- suit. Though they initially sought zooters, anyone of color became a target. The riot lasted until the 13th of June. Police broke up the riot by arresting the victims and the use of zoot-suits became a misdemeanor. If He Hollers Let Him Go "Well, here it goes. If the boy got hurt, or if there was any kind of rumpus with the white chick in it, there wouldn't be any way at all to stop a riot--- the white GI's would swarm into Little Tokyo like they did into the Mexican districts during the zoot suit riots" (77).