Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Some stories can't just be told. They must be experienced. Main Navigation Teachers
Search American Experience Thematic
Alphabetical

A - E
F - I
J - N
O - R
S - Z

Chronological

Special Features
Key to Archives icons: Document = More Information; Hand = Launch Web Site; Shopping Cart = Buy the Video; Pencil = Teachers Guide; Television = Watch the Promo
ALPHABETICAL: S - Z

S  |   T  |   U  |   V  |   W  |   X  |   Y  |   Z

Zoot Suit Riots

Zoot Suit Riots
In August 1942 the murder of a young Mexican American man ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles, ultimately sparking brutal race riots.
More InformationLaunch Web SiteBuy the VideoTeachers GuideWatch the Promo

In August 1942, the murder of a young Mexican-American ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles. The tensions that had been building up for years between Mexican and white Los Angelenos boiled over. The press claimed Mexican youth -- known as "zoot-suiters" for the clothes they wore -- were terrorizing the city with a wave of crime. Police fanned out across the city arresting 600 Mexican Americans. Seventeen "zoot-suiters" headed to a trial in which prosecutors had little evidence to present. Nonetheless, guilty verdicts were handed down to all. The tensions the trial inflamed sparked riots between servicemen and the Mexican American community that led to "zoot-suiters" being beaten and stripped of their clothes. Despite vigorous denials from city officials, a citizen's committee concluded the riots had been fired by racial prejudice and encouraged both by sensational news reporting and a discriminatory police department.
ALPHABETICAL: S - Z

S  |   T  |   U  |   V  |   W  |   X  |   Y  |   Z

Who We Are Schedule Archives Kids Teachers Contact Us Shop