Although out of this hatred was the Sleepy Lagoon

Although many of them served in the war, when they came home they were still not treated with respect. After the civil-rights movement started, the Hispanic community also started their own and pushed for its victory. They achieved victory after the Hernandez v. Texas trial in 1954. Mexican Americans achieved the double victory in 1945-1954.aaaa     During and immediately after the war, Mexican Americans were not treated equally. During the war, prejudices stirred hate and fear against Mexican American teenagers. They were viewed as “outrageously dressed juvenile delinquents and gang members” (Takaki 102). Two major events that stemmed out of this hatred was the Sleepy Lagoon murder and the zoot-suit riot of 1943. A book called The Labyrinth of Solitude, published in 1950, Octavio Paz explained the behavior and fashion of the troubled barrio youths. They were different from other Mexican American teenagers due to their “furtive, restless air.” Their sensibilities swung back and forth and they had lack of spirit. Their lack of spirit gave birth to a type known as the pachuco. The pachuco wore a zoot suit to hide their insecurities under the “flashy attire.” In reality, Paz’s description was inaccurate. Emory S. Bogardus, a professor at the University of California, urged caution in generalizing zoot suit wearers. He says in a written statement in 1943: ” Not all zoot suit wearers are members of gangs, only a small percentage.”      Other Mexican American teenagers thought the same in that the presence of  zoot suiters and gang members in the community was exaggerated. Most of them did not approve of the way the zoot suiters dressed and did not interact with them. The defiance of the pachuco was made through an economic and social “crucible” that denied Mexican American youth educational and social opportunities. The income of Mexicans in Los Angeles was only $492 dollars a year, $520 dollars less than the government recommended minimum for a family of five. Mexican Americans were also required to go to segregated schools. Section 8003 of the California Education Code stated: “The governing board of any school district may establish separate schools for Indian children” (Takaki 103). Since Mexican American students were considered part Indian, they were sent to these underfunded schools and then sent to work in dead-end jobs.       On August 2, 1942, the body of Jose Diaz was found in a local swimming hole known as the “Sleepy Lagoon.” Diaz’s sister stated in her autobiography that Jose was at a neighbor’s baptismal party when a group of pachucos tried to crash it. When they were told to leave, they returned with their gang and destroyed everything in sight. Everyone ran, but they caught up to Diaz and beat him to death. The police arrested twenty-two gang members on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder. Edward Duran Ayres’s, the Los Angeles police captain, testimony was full of Mexican American stereotypes. He stated: “While Anglos fought with the fists, Mexicans generally preferred to kill, or at least let blood.” This affinity for violence, he said, came from their Indian blood. Judge Edward R. Brand gave the trial a “patriotic framework.” He says in the trial: “In times like these, the behavior of a few members of the fine Mexican American colony is a disgrace to America.” The police arrested hundreds of Mexicans during the trial, singling out the zoot suit wearers. This profiling continued through the trial until Judge Fricke’s verdict in January, the Mexican-American youths were imprisoned without evidence and because they were “Mexican and dangerous”.A quote by a defense committee defending young Hispanics in the Sleepy Lagoon case: “Nazi logic guided the judge and jury and dictated the verdict and sentence. We are at war not only with the armies of the Axis powers, but with the poison gas of their doctrine.”(Takaki 107) In a report from the police about the Sleepy Lagoon Incident it stated that: “All Mexicans are inherently vicious” and ” A Mexican is always a good subject.”(Takiki 109)     On June 3, 1943, after some fight between young Mexican Americans and servicemen in downtown Los Angeles, hundreds of soldiers and servicemen in Los Angeles went on a rampage (Takaki 106). The servicemen rode in taxis and chased zoot suiters, condemning them as draft dodgers. The servicemen also broke into major theaters and hunted down the zoot suiters. They stripped them off their zoot suits and beat them up. After a while, the servicemen were not hunting zoot suiters, but minorities in general. During the whole event, the police watched and did not intervene. After, they arrested young Mexican Americans for “vagrancy” and “rioting.” The servicemen were praised by the police captain and even the new media for “teaching the zoot suiters a lesson.” The City Council blamed the zoot suiters for the rioting and passed a new law stating that zoot suits were illegal to wear within the city limits of Los Angeles.      Finally in 1954, after the Hernandez v Texas trial was over, Mexican Americans achieved their double victory. Chief Justice Earl Warren and the rest of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Hernandez, and required he be retried by a jury composed without discrimination against Mexican Americans. The Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment protects persons beyond the racial classes of white or black, and extends protection to nationality groups as well.      In conclusion, Mexican Americans did not achieve equality during or immediately after the war. This is seen through the events of the Sleepy Lagoon murder case and the Zoot Suit riots. They did achieve their double victory in 1954 after the Hernandez v Texas trial ruled that Mexican Americans were protected by the 14th amendment. This led to even more victories in the future. 


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