Many young Mexican Americans felt out of place and they felt as if they weren’t part of America, so they started wearing jackets with big shoulder blades with large pants, to express themselves and be out there. Many people saw this as a rebellious way of dressing even their own family and outsiders. In addition, one specific group who held a grudge towards the zoot suits were the sailors who were coming back from the war.
The sailors held grudges towards the ones wearing the zoot suits, because they weren’t in the war defending their country. Many of the issues that caused the riots were the tension between the two groups of young men. It was not right for the sailors to have gone that far as attacking everyone who was dressed as a zoot suit and even those who looked of Mexican American Race, this discrimination is still happening today with many Mexicans. The local press did not do much with bringing the tension down between this groups, but further it.
The reputation of the young men who were wearing the zoot suits were looked as upon being criminals and were seen as gangster, when in reality most of this so called criminals were just expressing themselves as a form of fashion. In addition, the local press had been promoting fear by asserting that a “Mexican crime wave” had hit the city and zoot-suiters and gangsters were one and the same (Chiodo 1). This was not true for most of the young men. The representation of this fashion was the outlet of feeling as they had they stay low and hide as the older generation did.
A great example of how this is happening today is by the Republican candidate for the president Donald Trump who quotes “when Mexicans come to this country they bring their rapist drug dealers, there worst. ” The press back then and now tried to make young zoot suits as criminals, just as Donald Trump is trying to make Mexicans look as criminals. Many of this young men were tired of being overlooked by everyone that they started dressing that way so they can stand out from the crowd.
The tension between the sailors and the zoot suits grew, when most of the sailors started to show interest in the young Mexican American women. Rumors often spread in the barrios of sailors searching out Mexican girls, while on the military bases, stories circulated about the violent reprisals suffered by sailors who dared to date Mexican females (2). An example is on the evening of May 30, 1943, about a dozen sailors and soldiers were walking a downtown street. After spotting a group of young Mexican American women, they changed direction and headed toward the women.
Between the military men and the young women stood a group of men in zoot suits (2). The both groups got into a fist fight and from there on the constriction grew even more. The incident occur which brought forward the violence between the two young people was the death of Jose Diaz. Many residents of Los Angeles saw the death of Jose Diaz as a tragedy that resulted from a larger pattern of lawlessness and rebellion among Mexican American youths. Much of this animosity had to do with the police and press characterizing all Mexican youth as “pachuco hoodlums and baby gangsters” (2).
This was a great example of how the media and police played a large role into contributing to adding discrimination towards the Mexican American zoot suits. Not only was it that but also some of the sailors who were trying to justify their acts by spreading rumors. On June 3, 1943, a number of sailors claimed that they were beaten and robbed by Mexican Pachucos. The following evening, a group of around 200 sailors set out for East Los Angeles and began to beat up any Mexican male dressed in a zoot suit.
Aided by a police department who seemed to approve of the violence, the initial attacks quickly turned into a riot that lasted for a period of nine days and has come to be known as the “Zoot Suit Riots” (1). The police were not doing their jobs correctly they weren’t protecting civilians that is the number one reason they wear that uniform. The police watch many of the young Mexican Americans getting beat up and the sailor tearing up their clothes and instead of stopping this from happening they watched and then proceeded to arrest the Mexican Americans as if they were the ones who did something wrong.
The following evening about 200 sailors hired a fleet of taxi cabs and rolled into East Los Angeles to beat up any young Latino males that they could find. When the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) responded to the incident, they made a few token arrests, but the sailors were quickly released. Many of the police officers were members of a group called the ‘Vengeance Squad,” which was “seeking to clean up Main Street from what they viewed as the loathsome influence of pachuco gangs” (3).
This was not fair to the Mexican Americans who were only trying to dress up by the form of fashion. They were being discriminated because of their color of their skin and the way they decided to dress. Many of this who were wearing zoot suits weren’t criminals they were teenagers who found a way of standing out from their older generation. They didn’t want to be like the older generation who felt as though they needed to stay in the dark and not be seen or heard. After that event happen the generals start to control their saliors.
The best form they thought would help is if they stop the young Mexican Americans by not allowing them to wear the zoot suits. Los Angeles City Council issued an ordinance banning the wearing of zoot suits, punishable by a thirty-day jail term. “The zoot suit has become a badge of hoodlumism,” explained Councilman Norris Nelson. “We prohibit nudism by an ordinance and if we can arrest people for being under-dressed, we can do so for being over-dressed” (3). So instead of the sailors getting in trouble they got a good slam and the hand.
While the zoot suits weren’t allowed to dress in the way they wanted to because that would be an issue. In all this event the problem was always the men wearing the suit zoots and not the men in uniform or the police who allowed these behaviors to happen. This is what you call discrimination towards the Mexican Americans. A great example is All the “Mexican element” knows or feels, Ayres stated, “Is a desire to kill or at least let blood … When there is added to this inborn characteristic that has come down through the ages, the use of liquor, then we certainly have crimes of violence” (2).
Sailors should’ve not done that and their generals should’ve control them since the beginning, by not allowing the tension to grow and setting them straight. Zoot suits were at false as well because they continue to let the tension grew instead of turning the other way or ignoring they were both at fault. But the issue with this riot was the way upon the way that Mexican Americans were looked on as upon. WE are having the same issue today by the Republican Candidate Donald Trump who pictures Mexicans through the media as criminals.
There is still some tension towards anyone with the Hispanic look by polices as well. Mexicans, Latinos are still being discriminated today. With this election going on and by Donald Trump having the possibility to win, only Latinos can start fearing the growth in discrimination towards the Hispanic people. Discrimination towards Mexicans happened in 1941 in L. A in the zoot suit riot is a great example and Now it is occurring towards the false acquisitions of the Republican Candidate for the Presentence of the United States who is portraying Mexicans as criminals.