February 19: U.S. Army soldiers begin enforcing Executive Order 9066, the presidential decree evacuating all Japanese nationals and U.S. citizens of Japanese background from the West Coast. In Los Angeles, Little Tokyo disappears and thousands of Japanese American citizens are deported out of the city.
June 12: Nineteen-year-old Frank Torres is ambushed and shot to death outside a track meet at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The ensuing chaos results in a near riot. The event provokes growing concern that wartime juvenile delinquency is out of control. Newspapers begin to feature stories about Mexican boy gangs.
July 27: Los Angeles policemen try to break up a craps game at the corner of Pomeroy and Mark Streets in Boyle Heights. The largely Mexican American crowd swarms the police and fights back. The incident provokes growing concerns that the Los Angeles Police Department, reduced by the wartime draft, is incapable of insuring order.
Aug. 1-2: A fight breaks out between kids from the 38th Street and Downey neighborhoods near a reservoir on the Williams Ranch nicknamed the "Sleepy Lagoon" after a popular song. Hank Leyvas is among those who are beaten, and Leyvas, reinforced by friends from 38th Street, return to the scene to seek retribution. While looking for the Downey boys, the group comes upon a party at the nearby Delgadillo home. After a fight breaks out between the 38th Street youth and the Delgadillo party, some young women from 38th Street find party guest José Díaz lying on the ground, bruised, bleeding, and unconscious. The fight breaks up once police are called. Díaz is rushed to the hospital, where he dies soon afterward.
August 3: The Evening Herald & Express brings its coverage of Mexican boy gangs to the front page for the first time. The "Sleepy Lagoon" murder is the cover page story.
August 4: The Los Angeles Times prints a front-page story about the police dragnet that follows the murder. Six hundred people are brought in for questioning and the Firestone sub-station is filled with teen boys and girls, predominantly Mexican American, suspected of involvement in the murder at the Williams Ranch. Lorena Encinas, who will later be imprisoned for not cooperating, refuses to speak to police, fearful that doing so will implicate her younger brother, Louis.
October 13: A criminal case, People v. Zammora goes to trial. The largest mass trial in California history includes as defendants 17 of the 22 boys indicted. Five of the boys' families are able to afford separate trials. Louis Encinas escapes indictment altogether. The Honorable Charles W. Fricke -- also known as "San Quentin Fricke" because he has sent more convicts to San Quentin than any other California judge -- presides over the trial. Tenacious defense lawyer George Shibley is among the seven lawyers representing the 17 defendants. The young women who were detained along with the defendants refuse to testify during the trial -- and many pay the price, ending up in a notorious girls' reformatory without benefit of trial or jury.
Late October: Labor organizer LaRue McCormick founds The Citizens' Committee for the Defense of Mexican American Youth and appeals to the Congress of Spanish-Speaking People and other Mexican American civic and cultural organizations for help.
December: The Los Angeles tabloid Sensation publishes an exposé on Mexican gangs authored by Clem Peoples, Chief of the Criminal Division of the Sheriff's Office. The tabloid sells more than 10,000 copies.
December 31: According to policemen, "a drunken Pachuco" shoots and kills a policeman at a North Main Street café. Around this time military personnel and young civilians clash in the streets once each week, on average.