1942-1944: Sleepy Lagoon Trial
The Sleepy Lagoon Trial was a Los Angeles murder case that prompted anti-Mexican American violence and rioting. Before an appeals court overturned their unfair convictions, 12 young Mexican American youth and one Anglo -- all considered “Zoot Suiters” -- were found guilty of the alleged murder of José Díaz. The glaring lack of evidence that Diaz had been murdered prompted the formation of the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee. It was supported by family members, members of the African American and Jewish communities and Hollywood stars such as Anthony Quinn. In 1944 the convictions were overturned by the U.S. District Court of Appeals.