Zoot Suit Riots

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  • Racial tensions between the Anglo and Mexican American communities in Los Angeles, California erupted into violence after the conviction of Henry "Hank" Leyvas and seventeen other Mexican American youths for the murder of José Díaz in what was perceived as an unfair trial in 1943. Lorena Encinas, a witness to the murder, kept the real killer's identity a secret until the end of her life. Prominent members of the Los Angeles community worked to fund an appeal for the defendents, even as battles between unruly US Naval personnel and Mexican Americans rocked L.A.'s barrios. Surviving family members of the seventeen convicts, riot witnesses and members of the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee tell the story of the riots, which is highlighted by photographs of the riots, the trial and their participants.


  • Videocassette release of a production originally broadcast as an episode of the television program The American Eperience.
  • Closed-captioning.
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