In June 1943, Los Angeles erupted into the worse race riots in the city to date. For ten straight nights, American sailors armed with make-shift weapons cruised Mexican American neighborhoods in search of “zoot-suiters” — hip, young Mexican teens dressed in baggy pants and long-tailed coats. 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.
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