When the Sleepy Lagoon Trial began, the newspapers printed only brief updates about it. However, as the trial progressed, the newspapers realized that the Mexican-American minority “gang” stories might actually resonate with the white Anglo readers. The newspapers’ coverage of the Sleepy Lagoon case was heavily biased against the defendants, commonly describing them as “reckless, mad-brained young wolves who posed a dire threat to the good, law-abiding people of Los Angeles.” They called the 38th Street Boys a “gang” and other offensive names. Newspapers wrote that the Mexican-American youths were uncivilized, and that they didn’t deserve to live under the “mercy” of white democratic society. The articles convinced most of the white readers that Los Angeles would soon be taken over and invaded by zoot-suited Hispanic youths. They even influenced the opinions of the jurors at the Sleepy Lagoon trial. 

During the Zoot Suit Riots, many Americans realized that the violence that took place in Los Angeles was encouraged by the racist views held by white Angelenos. One of the critics was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. On June 17, 1943, the newspapers published a story about the First Lady’s comments. She labeled the Zoot Suit Riots as "race riots." There were two different key articles, one by the Associated Press, a neutral newspaper, and one by the Los Angeles Times. The LA officials were alarmed that the First Lady would paint the Zoot Suit Riots as race riots, so the Los Angeles Times released an editorial condemning her for her “assumptions.” They stated that discrimination against Mexicans was non-existent. They claimed that if the First Lady had bothered to investigate, it would have been clear that the riots were not race riots. Instead, she was being "ignorant" and creating Communist party propaganda. They tried to deny that the “zoot suit trouble” wasn’t related to a “race-hatred” problem. 

After the imprisonment and trial regarding the Sleepy Lagoon murder, the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee, or SLDC, was formed. They tried to convince citizens to donate to their cause of appealing and freeing the 38th street boys. They published a regular SLDC newsletter detailing the daily operations and the appeal that the committee was striving towards. They also worked alongside Charlotta Bass, publisher of the California Eagle, Los Angeles’s only daily black-owned newspaper. The newsletter and the California Eagle reinforced the arguments the SLDC presented, such as the fact that Judge Fricke was biased against the defense. Although there were opposing Spanish-language newspapers, the SLDC continued to publish stories and books. The newspapers and statements from the SLDC can still be found in the Online Archive of California.

00:00 / 01:12

Escucha esta exposición en español>>>

4543 Crown Ave, La Canada CA 91011

Tel (818)790-1178 

© 2023 LAMoG

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

This site was designed with the
website builder. Create your website today.
Start Now