Zoot Suit Riot

Eduardo Obregón Pagán

in Latino Studies

ISBN: 9780199913701
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
Zoot Suit Riot

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  • History of the Americas
  • US Cultural History


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As night fell on Los Angeles on 3 June 1943, military men and civilians launched coordinated assaults on zoot-suited youth in the city’s streets in response to an escalating series of street-level challenges to white privilege. The riot effectively ended by Tuesday morning, 8 June 1943, when senior military officials, fearful of the negative publicity in the newspapers, declared Los Angeles out of bounds to all navy, marine, coast guard, and army personnel. In the end, an estimated ninety-four civilians and eighteen servicemen were treated for serious injuries from the riot. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) arrested all ninety-four of the civilians and only two of the servicemen. The Zoot Suit riot was unique among the riots that raged throughout the United States in 1943. Unlike the race riot in Detroit later that month, there were no murders, rapes, deaths, or serious damage to property reported in Los Angeles during the Zoot Suit riot. Instead, military men focused their rampage on finding youth wearing the so-called zoot suit (a fashion popularized by touring jazz bands), stripping them of their clothing, and then destroying the outfit.

Article.  5015 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; US Cultural History

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