History repeats itself over and over again. No other city in the United States has shown this fact better than Los Angeles, California. Unfortunately, the city of angels has hosted some of the worst chapters in our young nation's biography. L.A. has been the birthplace of so many riots to date that one can not hear "the L.A. riots" and know for sure which riot the speaker is referring to. This could be L.A."s latest riot, brought on by an innocent verdict handed down to white police officers in the beating of a black motorist named Rodney King during April of 1992.# This could be the destructive Watts riots of 1965, in which thirty-four people lost their lives during the civil rights movement.# This could also be the "Zoot-Suit" riots of 1943, spurred on by a highly publicized murder, sensationalized in a racially biased press. Is racial discord all the city needs to partially destroy itself every couple decades? Unpopular court decisions have also been a part of this destructive dynamic that leaves so many asking why and what now? Looking at the steps taken to bring about the "Zoot-Suit" riots reveals how it helped to solidify the gang sub-culture in Los Angeles, a sub-culture that has grown exponentially since World War II.
Los Angeles in 1942 was on edge. A Japanese submarine had shelled a Santa Barbara oilfield on 26 February.# The next evening a questionable alert was issued stating Los Angeles was under air attack. In the following black out, two civilians were killed by cars. No bombs fell but hundreds of rounds from anti-aircraft batteries were fired into the sky. After this, residents required little prompting to contribute to the war effort; most considered themselves to be on the frontlines of the war. .
Many of the young men in L.A. had enlisted in the service. This opened up jobs previously unavailable to the Mexican-American population who had been confined mostly to their self-contained, conservative barrios on the outskirts of town.