Synopsis by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
American Experience: Zoot Suit Riots covers the explosion of violence between military personnel and Mexican-American youth in Los Angeles in the summer of 1943. Baggy pants and long coats defined the "zoot suits" that became the calling card for young Mexican-Americans who, unlike their parents, defied traditional barriers. Racial tension came to the forefront of the Los Angeles community in 1942, when a young Mexican-American was killed at a party. The LAPD arrested 600 Mexican-American suspects and the ensuing trial, along with sensational coverage by the press, intensified strained relations. Finally, at the beginning of June in 1943, sailors armed with gun belts and chains began to seek out Mexican-Americans. When Mexican-Americans struck back, the situation escalated into the worst race riot in Los Angeles' history. On June 8, officials declared the city off limits to military men and the rioting ceased. The following day, zoot suits were outlawed. American Experience: Zoot Suit Riots includes historical film footage and interviews with participates.
accusation, arrest, criminal, discrimination, Mexican-American, murder, police-harassment, prejudice, racial-tension, racism, riot [uprising], sensationalism, youth