Federal investigation is begun into bloody zoot-suit rioting (6-10-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (June 10, 1943)

Federal investigation is begun into bloody zoot-suit rioting


Los Angeles, California (UP) –
Pachuco girls, female counterparts of the zoot-suited hoodlums who have battled uniformed servicemen in street rioting for six nights, slashed and beat a young woman early today.

A landing party of servicemen, unofficial but effective, had the zoot-suit situation well in hand in Watts, California, with clubs, pipes and bottles as weapons, until a shore patrol broke up the invasion.

Los Angeles, California (UP) –
Field representatives of Nelson Rockefeller, Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, began an investigation today into bloody rioting between servicemen and zoot-suited young hoodlums, many of whom are Mexicans.

Mayor Fletcher Bowron disclosed that Rockefeller’s field representatives here were preparing a report on the fighting, which was subsiding after raging for nearly a week.

Mr. Bowron made the disclosure after talking by telephone to the State Department in Washington. State Department officials called him after the Mexican Embassy in Washington received a report on the riots from the Mexican Consulate here.

No racial issue involved

The mayor did not disclose the nature of his telephone conversation, but said he assured the State Department there was no racial discrimination involved in the violence.

Meanwhile, Governor Earl Warren of California named a five-man committee to investigate the fighting, and asked the state attorney general to conduct a similar investigation.

He said:

Without regard to the basic cause of these riots, they promote disunity, develop race hatred, and create an unwholesome relationship between our men in arms and the citizenry.

They create doubts of our solidarity in our own minds and bring joy to the hearts of our enemies.

Police records showed 110 men hospitalized with serious injuries since rioting started. They included 92 civilians and 18 servicemen. They estimated 100-150 more were hurt more or less seriously but went to private physicians instead of emergency hospital to evade police questioning.

A mob of 150 sailors, soldiers, and Marines marched through suburban Watts late last night in search of the zoot-suiters who stoned three interurban cars of sailors last night, but found none.

Two girls attacked

Every available military policeman was on duty, and with the entire metropolitan area out of bounds for men under Navy jurisdiction, and most of it out of bounds for the Army, skirmishes were few.

Civilian law enforcement agencies were becoming more stringent in attempts to halt the outbreaks. A grand jury indicted 11 zoot-suiters on a charge of conspiring to commit statutory attack in the aftermath of a mass assault on two Mexican girls, each of whom was attacked seven of eight times in a lonely park area.

The girls were held in protective custody because of threats on their lives.

The city council, meanwhile, debated all day before putting up for adoption an ordinance to outlaw wearing of zoot suits.

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