What a Creep: The Zoot Suit Riots & The Sleepy Lagoon Murder
Season 14, Episode 8
The Murder of Jose Gallardo Diaz & the Zoot Suit Riots
On August 2, 1942, Jose Gallardo Diaz (22) was found unconscious in an area known as The Sleepy Lagoon. He had multiple head injuries, was stabbed at least twice, and had a broken finger. He died at Los Angeles Hospital, and a complete sweep of Mexican Americans by the LA cops captured the media’s imagination. Though mostly from future Creep William Randolph Hearst) kids that were Zoot-suiters were seen as a dangerous element and causing a crime wave. The phrase De-Zoot the suit was often sed.
Diaz’s murder remains unsolved, but it was the catalyst for the “Zoot Suit Riots” that happened the following summer. If you have heard of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies song—you will get no idea how horrible this incident indeed was for the Chicano and African American community.
This episode will talk about the Sleepy Lagoon Murders, the sham of a trial that happened afterward, and the Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles of 1943.
Trigger Warnings: Racism and my terrible attempts at Spanish.
PBS American Experience “The Sleepy Lagoon Defendants”
Sleepy Lagoon Mystery by Guy Endore
The Zoot Suit Riots by Mauricio Mazon
The Zoot Suit Riots by Charles Rivers Editors
Zoot Suit (1981) Starring Edward James Olmos
Zoot Suit Riot by the Cherry Poppin Daddies
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