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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

The Zoot Suit Riots June 1943 Los Angeles

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.


Sleepy Lagoon Murders Wiki

PBS American Experience “The Sleepy Lagoon Defendants”

The Sleepy Lagoon website

LA Law Library

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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