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Zoot Suit Riots

The Zoot Suit Riots were a series of racially inspired riots that erupted in Los Angeles, California during World War II, between sailors stationed in the city and Mexican American pachucos (youth gangs), recognized because of the zoot suits[?] they favored.

The riots began in the racially charged atmosphere of Los Angeles, where the sailors had already come into conflict with the local Mexican American population. On June 3, 1943, a group of sailors on leave complained that they had been assaulted by a gang of pachucos. In response, they gathered a mob and headed out to East Los Angeles, which was the center of the Mexican American community. Once there, they attacked all the men they found, often ripping off their clothing. In many instances, the police intervened by arresting the Mexican Americans for disturbing the peace. Several hundred Mexican Americans and nine sailors were arrested as a result of the fighting that occurred over the next few days.

The government finally intervened on June 7, by declaring that Los Angeles would henceforth be off-limits to all military personnel. In response to the riots Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in her weekly column about the problems faced by the Mexican American community as a result of racism in the United States.

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