The Zoot Suit Riots: Causes, Significance, and Legacy
by Robert Longely/Thought.Co
Health Editor’s Note: The TV series, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (Showtime) is a good interpretation of this time and pretty entertaining in the bargain…..Carol
The Zoot Suit Riots were a series of violent conflicts that occurred from June 3 to June 8, 1943, in Los Angeles, California, during which U.S. servicemen attacked young Latinos and other minorities who wore zoot suits—outfits featuring balloon-legged trousers and long coats with wide lapels and exaggeratedly padded shoulders. While ostensibly blamed on the so-called “zoot suiters’” lack of “patriotism” during World War II, the attacks were actually more about race than fashion. Racial tensions at the time had been heightened by the Sleepy Lagoon murder trial, involving the 1942 slaying of a young Latino man in a Los Angeles barrio.
- The Zoot Suit Riots was a series of street fights between groups of U.S. servicemen and zoot suit-wearing young Latinos and other minorities that occurred during World War II, from June 3 to June 8, 1943, in Los Angeles, California.
- The U.S. servicemen sought out and attacked the zoot-suited “pachucos” claiming that wearing zoot suits was unpatriotic due to a large amount of wool and other war-rationed fabrics used in making them.
- In stopping the riots, police arrested more than 600 young Latinos, beating many victims, but only a few servicemen.
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