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The Press and the Riot

Near-martial law in L.A. riot zones
Los Angeles Daily News
June 9, 1943

...Harold Tabor, 32, Long Beach sailor, was severely beaten by a gang of zooters at 103rd and Graham st. He suffered a broken nose, serious facial cuts. He told officers at Georgia st. hospital that he had been visiting his sister, Dorothy Edmonson, 1133 East 103rd st.

"I was passing a poolhall en route to a grocery store when the gang hopped me, " he said.

George Lorigo, 19, was arrested on a charge of battery after Tabor's beating. The sailor was later transferred to Long Beach naval hospital for X-ray examination.

Two soldiers and a Negro zoot suiter were taken into custody after a riot at the corner of Second and Spring sts. And police, cruising throughout the city in scouting forays, dispersed mobs, hunted for others. Police ordered groups of more than three to " break it up" everywhere in the downtown area, and the presence of armed officers on every street resembled martial law rule. Two officers were stationed on every corner of Main, Spring and Broadway, between First st. and Pico blvd. Two more officers were in the center of each block.

Squads of riot breakers, packed 18 in a truck, roamed the city, investigated mob reports, arrested suspects. Traffic on Main st. was bumper to bumper, moving as slowly as city officials trying to solve the zoot suit problem.

Navy shore patrol officers and Bagley army military police added to the martial law resemblance. They walked in and out of bars, dancehalls, drugstores, bus stations. They kept servicemen on the move, asked for proof of leaves and liberties.

One of the most serious outbreaks of terrorism occurred in Watts. There three PE trains were stoned. At least three passengers were injured by shattered glass windows. About 9 p.m. an inbound train from Newport was "shelled" by pachucos. One person was cut seriously. A few minutes later, nearly every window of an outbound Long Beach two-car train was smashed when it was caught in a crossfire of pachuco stoning. Two were seriously cut on this car, including a navy nurse. An inbound San Pedro car barely escaped the stoning.

Gangsterism in Watts continued into the early hours of today. Twelve Negroes ambushed a 17-year-old white high school student, asked him if he was a "zoot suiter" and when he said "no" the fight started. The victim, Joe M. Steddum of 8834 Banders st., Watts, received a five inch cut on his left forehead, requiring six stitches at the emergency hospital, 3060 Slauson st., to mend.

Police took Daniel Malone into custody at Sixth and Main sts. when they discovered a long club hidden down his pants leg.

Servicemen continued to roam the city's streets through all this hectic night despite the "out of bounds" order issued at 3:15 yesterday afternoon.

It came from Rear Adm. D. W, Bagley, a commandant of the 11th Naval district in San Diego, and addressed to all activities, it read:

"Until further notice, except for special occasions approved by the commanding officer, the city of Los Angeles will be out of bounds for all enlisted personnel of the naval services not attached to the stations within this city, or in travel status.

"Activities located in the city of Los Angeles will, except in special cases, grant liberty to married men or those subsisted off stations."

Augmented police forces continued their roundup of riot suspects, meanwhile. Arrests of zoot suiters were reported in all sections of the county. Among those taken into custody were Lewis English,23, of 844 East Fifth st., and Adam Vasquez, 16, address is unknown. English was charged with carrying a concealed weapon when officers found a 16 inch butcher knife in his pants. Vasquez was turned over to juvenile authorities as a riot suspect.

But zoot suit panty gangs of hoodlums continued to lose their trousers to servicemen, and in many cases nearly lost what was in 'em.

Servicemen, too, particularly sailors, reported casualties. One sailor, Donald Jackson, 20, of Santa Barbara, had just arrived here on leave when a group of reat pleaters jumped him at First and Evergreen sts. His head was beaten. His abdomen was severely cut. His back was viciously kicked.

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