Zoot Suit Riots 1943

The zoot suit was a popular style of dress among nonwhite youths during WWII. With ballooned pants that tapered at the ankle, oversized jackets, and a broad-rimmed hat, zoot suits were a way for these marginalized groups to express autonomy. Mainstream society, however, viewed zoot culture as rebellious and aggressive.

In June of 1943, violence escalated in Los Angeles when white servicemen scoured the city attacking zoot suiters. The targets were predominately Mexican Americans, but African Americans and Filipino Americans were also attacked. For several days, servicemen dragged nonwhite youths into the streets where they beat them and stripped them of their zoot suits. The Zoot Suit Riots lasted for days and sparked racial violence across homefront America.