A group of sailors on Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles, California, USA, get into a fight with young local Mexicans dressed in zoot suits
. The LAPD responds in a heavy-handed way, calling themselves the Vengeance Squad and cracking down firmly on what they regarded as "the loathsome influence of pachuco gangs." The incident sparks
what will become known as The Zoot Suit Riots
when, the next day, a gang of 200 sailors invade East Los Angeles and begin attacking young men dressed in zoot suits, many of them
12 or 13 year old boys. They also strip the boys of their zoot suits and burn the tattered clothes in a pile. The violence escalates - with no attempt by LAPD to control the sadistic beatings being handed out - until June 7, when sailors and Marines are confined to barracks and Los Angeles is declared off-limits to all military personnel. The 1997 song Zoot Suit Riot
by Cherry Poppin' Daddies gives a lively musical account of the conflict.