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The Press and the Riot

Hair Style Used in Identification of Hoodlums
Suspects Must Not Change Haircut, Judge Rules

Los Angeles Examiner
October 27, 1942

Male haircuts, particularly that "smeared-around-the-back" style known as the "duck tail comb," became the topic of debate in Superior Judge Charles W. Fricke's court yesterday in the murder trial of 22 boy gang suspects.

All of the 22 murder suspects, reputed members of the "38th Street Gang," affect the "duck tail comb" hair style. The prosecutors, Assistant District Attorney Clyde Shoemaker and Deputy John Barnes, charged that such hair cuts are distinguishing gang characteristics.

Yesterday's word storm broke when one of the eight defense lawyers demanded that Shoemaker be held in contempt of court for advising the county jailer not to let the boys have their hair style changed during the course of their trial.

Shoemaker replied that the effect of changing the hair style would be to make it difficult for prosecution witnesses to identify them in connection with their alleged participation in a riot last August 2, when they are declared to have kicked and beaten to death a Montebello ranch guest, Jose Diaz, 22.

Judge Fricke ruled that he didn't think that the boys should have their hair style changed.

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