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Exploring the Racial Tensions and Changing Political Landscape That Led To The Explosion on LA's Streets In 1943.

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ZOOT SUIT RIOTS is the story of how Los Angeles erupted into violent riots after the murder trial of a Mexican-American youth in 1942.

9pm Thursday ZOOT SUIT RIOTS: American Experience - Documentary
In June 1943, Los Angeles erupted into the worst race riots in the city to date. For 10 straight nights, American sailors armed with makeshift weapons cruised Mexican American neighborhoods in search of "zoot-suiters" — hip, young Mexican teens dressed in baggy pants and long-tailed coats. The military men dragged kids — some as young as twelve years old — out of movie theaters and diners, bars and cafes, tearing the clothes off the young men's bodies and viciously beating them. Mexican youths aggressively struck back. The fighting intensified and on the worst night, taxi drivers offered free rides to the riot area. One LA paper even printed a guide on how to "de-zoot" a zoot-suiter. When the violence ended, scores of Mexicans and servicemen were in hospital beds.

American Experience 1406 Zoot Suit Riots

Zoot Suit Riots is a powerful film that explores the complicated racial tensions and the changing social and political landscape that led up to the explosion on LA's streets in the summer of 1943. To understand what happened during those terrifying June nights, the film describes changes in the city's population — the influx of new immigrants, the booming war-time economy, the huge number of service men on their way to the Pacific theater and a new generation of Mexican Americans who were more conspicuous, more affluent and more self-confident than their parents had ever dared to be.