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Abstract

This paper is about the 1943 Los Angeles Zoot suit Riots. These riots lasted for five days and were fought between the city’s young Mexican-American population and U.S. servicemen who were in the city. The name comes from a popular style that many young Mexican-Americans in L.A. wore at the time called the zoot suit. The Zoot Suit Riots was one of the most important moments in Chicano history. Throughout the riots as well as sometime afterward, many who were in the city at the time tried to discern its origins. The local newspapers, the Los Angeles Police Department, Mexican-Americans, city officials, as well as some activists at the time, all expressed their own ideas about what caused the riots. For the most part they each blamed one or two factors for the riots but never themselves. In the end they wound up not being completely wrong or right. Thanks to extensive research we know today that the riots were not caused by one or even two factors like many claimed at the time. Instead, there were seemingly separate factors working together over a number of years in a huge causal web that eventually resulted in the Zoot Suit Riots.

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