Zooters and the Sleepy Lagoon Case

Zooters and the Sleepy Lagoon Case

The people involved here are Mexican Americans, Los Angeles sheriff’s department and an appeals court. The police had charged several “zoot suiters” with the murder of Jose Diaz. The murder took place in August 1942 near the Sleepy Lagoon.

Davidson, J. et al. (2010).Experience History: Interpreting Americas Past, Volume 2 (p.737-739). New York: McGraw-Hill Education

The subject has been reflected on the textbook to showcase several aspects of the American history. Among them is the race divide that used to exist before the World War 2. It also tries to show why being a member of the minority group was engulfed with insecurity. The police were absorbed in racial profiling, and could not see the facts of the cases presented to them.

This is showcased based on how Edward Duran Ayres portrayed that Mexicans are biologically developed to engage in crime. This is an assertion that all Mexicans are criminals regardless of the status in the society. Racial discrimination is also showcased based on how the Mexican Americans were charged for the murder. They were not accorded the relevant rights of defending one self. How the investigations were conducted was also not clear. Jose Diaz death could have resulted from several aspects. It is written in the textbook that it was not clear whether he was accidentally run over or killed. Police were just quick on blaming the Mexican gang violence for the death.

The result of these occurrences is that there was a division in opinion based on how the events unfolded. The police kept insisting the decision made was the most appropriate. However, the “Zoot suiters” representatives had a different opinion. They argued that the seventeen boys charged with regards to this case were not accorded the due process. Based on the ruling made earlier, and the prosecutor’s arguments, it was not only the seventeen boys on trial. It was the entire Mexican race based on the generalizations made with regards to the “biological basis” assertions. Several examples were brought forward on how this assertion would be misleading. Examples like the ones involving President Roosevelt and Hitler. The final result was that the appeals court overturned the convictions.


Castillo, R. (2000). The Los Angeles “Zoot Suit Riots” Revisited: Mexican And Latin American Perspectives. Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, 16(2), 367-391.

The article is about how Latin Americans came to realize the racial attitudes towards them in the United States. During the so-called “Zoot Suit Riots”, different groups took to the street to beat them up. Their name was tarnished all over the media. The relevant officials did nothing to help them. The Mexican government was also in a dilemma with regards to helping its citizens.

How this happened is that it begun with riots whereby soldiers went to the streets beating up every ‘zoot suiter’ they came across. The media published stories that showed how Mexican Americans were a menace to the society. They referred to their youths as “baby gangsters” in order to drive the point home. The police also seemed to give support to the groups that were beating Mexican Americans in the streets. The Mexican government took time to respond due to the relations that they had established with the United States.

The results were that the Justice Department gave the Mexican government an opportunity to present cases of mistreatment towards their people.  This was done through the ambassador and other Mexican officials in the United States.  Government officials in the United States also saw the need to end these incidences. They did not want to ruin their relationship with the Mexican government. This would be their undoing in case any form of war erupted, and they needed their neighbor’s help.  The incidence also reached other Latin American countries. It did not go well with them. Mexican citizens on their part criticized their government on this incident. The critics were more towards how the government intervened in the issue. Its lack of involvement did not go well with the people. Mexican Americans also came to realize of the racial attitudes towards them.

Bruns, R. (2014). Zoot Suit riots (p. 198). New York: ABC-CLIO.

The book is about the Zoot Suit riots, the trial, and the conviction. The riots emerged as a result of the response by Mexican Americans based on how they were being treated. The death of Jose Diaz at the Sleepy Lagoon had resulted to mass discrimination of Mexican Americans. Racial profiling was used to assess the victims in this case. Victims involved were not accorded a fair trial in the court.

How this happened was from the Sleepy Lagoon case, which resulted to the trial of People v. Zamora. More than 600 Mexican-American youths were arrested in connection to the murder. When Jose Diaz died, there were women involved, but no woman was subjected to the jury during the trials. The prosecutor feared that women would appear innocent in the eyes of the jury.  The Los Angeles media also enhanced prejudice towards Mexican Americans during the trial.

The result was that 22 Mexican-American youths were charged with Jose Diaz’s murder. Young women that refused to testify also suffered the consequences. They were sent to a women’s reformatory without being accorded trial. Another evident result was the failings of the justice system to protect the American citizens. This is because the case seemed to be flawed and showcased aspects of justice miscarriages.  Following these occurrences, riots erupted in Los Angeles. It was Mexican Americans against various groups. This aspect created tension in Washington. Government officials were aware that they needed to have favorable relations with Latin American countries. It would come in handy during the war periods.

In my opinion, the second resource gave a good account of the events. It was able to analyze the ‘why’ and ‘how’ aspects clearly compared to the other resources.

The resource gives a favorable account since it explains all the events that were taking place during this period. It tries to show how Latin Americans came to realize the racial attitudes towards them. The ‘whys’ provided are documented on the way various groups took to the street to beat them up. The role of the media exercising prejudice towards Mexican Americans has also been documented. The relevant government officials also did little to help. How all these happened has also been elaborated in a good way. Sailors, soldiers, and civilians played an actual role of beating youths affiliated to Mexican Americans. This was regardless of their innocence or guilt. The media showed prejudice by running headlines that portrayed Mexican Americans as criminals. At some point, the Los Angeles Times referred to the Mexican youths as “baby gangsters”. The police also seemed to aid individuals that were perpetrating crimes against Mexican Americans. It has not been mentioned even once that the police apprehended any individual involved with the brutal acts.

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