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November 24, 1942-
Los Angeles, California
The impact of a world-wide war upon long-standing social conditions in the Los Angeles area — plus the exploitation by Axis
propaganda of the deeds of American youths of Mexican extraction who have been running in packs and raiding each others' parties
in a manner not greatly different from the way students of local universities have recently been raiding each others' strongholds
— have served to focus local, national and international attention upon the condition of Americans of Mexican extraction in
The Axis is proclaiming to the world and particularly to Latin America that young Americans of Mexican extraction in Southern
California are in open rebellion against violent Anglo-Saxon persecution. Local jails are overflowing with thousands upon
thousands of members of this persecuted minority, according to Rome, Berlin and Tokyo.
Many Americans feel that while these statements are exaggerated, there may be some real shreds of truth somewhere behind them.
Yet recent statistics prepared by the Los Angeles County Probation Department indicate that there has been no increase in
juvenile delinquency among American youths of Mexican extraction despite the fact that there has been a considerable increase
in the total for all racial groups. The total number of boys of Mexican extraction brought into juvenile court during the
first six months of 1942 showed no increase over the number in court over the corresponding period of last year. An analysis
of these cases shows that auto thefts committed by boys of Mexican extraction decreased more than the total rate decreased
and that other types of theft
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committed by boys of Mexican extraction increased only 6 percent — as compared with 21.8 percent increase in the total for
all racial groups.
Thus today the juvenile delinquency situation is acute only insofar as attention to it is acute. However, the situation of
the general population of Mexican extraction, young and old together, is in the process of becoming acute. The dimout and
consequent closing of many evening recreational places, the lack of sufficient training schools in neighborhoods heavily populated
by people of Mexican heritage, the lack of sufficient Spanish-speaking officials, such as school and vocational teachers,
recreational directors, probation officers and law enforcement officers in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, the non-enforcement
of anti-discrimination ordinances governing public places, poor housing conditions, the inability of all ablebodied workers
of Mexican extraction readily to find war jobs, and so forth, together with incomplete recognition by the community as a whole
of the part Spanish-speaking citizens are playing and want to play in the war effort, all combine with the work of the enemy
to create a situation that may become very dangerous if remedies are not immediately sought and put into effect.
To quote the opinion of the Los Angeles County Grand Jury as expressed in a letter to Nelson D. Rockefeller, Jr., Coordinator
of Inter-American Affairs in Washington:
"Raising the social and economic levels and promoting the full community integration of this minority is no longer a reformist
or humanitarian movement, but a war-imposed necessity."
Therefore, we recommend that the following steps be taken by the appropriate authority, whether it be the City of Los Angeles,
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of Los Angeles, the State of California or the Federal Government, as necessary contributions to national unity and the winning
of the war, and as sound measures for the social betterment of the total population of this area:
- We request the Mayor of Los Angeles to appoint a coordinating committee within the city administration charged with the responsibility
of seeing that the local population of Mexican extraction is given its rightful and full place and attention in all city activities
and particularly in such specific programs as education, recreation, and so forth.
- We request the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to appoint a coordinating committee within the county administration
charged with the responsibility of seeing that the local population of Mexican extraction is given its rightful and full place
and attention in all city activities and particularly in such specific programs as education, recreation, and so forth.
- We request the Mayor of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to see that the two coordinating committees
mentioned above in paragraphs one and two hold joint meetings from time to time for the purpose of achieving maximum effectiveness
in their work.
- We request the Mayor of Los Angeles to appoint to the City of Los Angeles Defense Council a coordinating committee charged
with the task of seeing that the local population of Mexican extraction participates fully in all city defense projects.
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- We request the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors similarly to appoint to the Los Angeles County Defense Council a coordinating
committee charged with the task of seeing that the local population of Mexican extraction participates fully in all county
- For the sake of strong defense and general unity, we request the Mayor of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to appoint
a joint committee to effect the dual defense role requested above in paragraphs two and three.
- We request the Mayor of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to appoint to the committees mentioned
above in paragraphs one, two, four and five a preponderance of Americans of Mexican extraction.
- We request the Mayor of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to work together where possible and individually
where necessary to achieve the following objectives:
- Increased training school facilities for war work in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods.
- Special transportation facilities for Spanish-speaking people to existing training schools until better located schools are
- Additional Spanish-speaking personnel in present and future training schools.
- Night use of indoor school facilities for recreational purposes in Spanish-speaking communities,
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- Use of these recreational facilities on week-ends.
- Additional athletic equipment, lockers, and other facilities for recreation centers.
- Additional Spanish-speaking supervisors for recreation projects.
- Spanish-speaking attorneys as public defenders in local courts.
- Enforcement of anti-discrimination ordinances governing public places, and the erection of suitable signs indicating equal
access without discrimination for all persons.
- Establishment of more forestry camps for juveniles between the ages of 13 and 15 on probation.
- Release of boys on probation to enrollment in vocational National Youth Administration and similar training programs.
- Use of Spanish-speaking law enforcement officers on cases involving Spanish-speaking juveniles.
- More Spanish-speaking law enforcement officers in Spanish speaking communities.
- Provision in the regular training curricula of law enforcement officers for education in minority groups problems as is already
done in New York, Chicago, and other major American communities.
- Execution of police powers of law enforcement agencies equally and without undue emphasis against persons of Mexican extraction.
- A general agreement with the press to cut to a minimum the publication of names of juvenile delinquents.
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- Establishment of nurseries in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods for mothers employed in war work.
- Establishment of special training classes to provide Spanish-speaking personnel for jobs mentioned above in cases where competent
personnel is now unavailable.
- Establishment of a procedure whereby competent Spanish-speaking personnel can be certified for temporary civil service jobs
for the duration of the war in cases where present civil service regulations make it impossible to employ competent Spanish-speaking
- We request the State Youth Correction Authority to use current funds for the establishment of additional recreation facilities.
- We request the president of the United States to issue executive orders relaxing restrictions on friendly and allied aliens
who are now denied full participation in and enjoyment of:
- Federal housing projects.
- National Youth Administration.
- Civil service.
- Restricted war contracts.
- Civilian defense.
- Privilege of enlistment in armed forces.
- We request the War Manpower Commission and the President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice to increase their efforts
to open war industry jobs to workers of Mexican extraction and to provide more Spanish-speaking personnel in local offices
of the United States Employment Service and to open a branch of the United States Employment Service in Belvedere and other
communities where need is indicated.
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- We request the Office of War Information:
- To intensify its Spanish-speaking language information work among Spanish-speaking peoples in this area in order to increase
their understanding of and participation in the war effort,
- To assist in an information campaign designed to inform the local English-speaking population of the part played by the local
Spanish-speaking population in the war, and
- To assist in an information campaign designed to publicize the progress of the local program for better understanding between
Americans and between the Americas.
- We request the United States Treasury Department to conduct a vigorous war bond drive in the Spanish language in this area.
- We request the American Red Cross to establish training centers and blood donor centers in Spanish-speaking communities under
the supervision of Spanish-speaking personnel.
- We request the United Service Organization to establish centers in Spanish-speaking communities under the supervision of Spanish-speaking
- We request the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs:
- To open a regional office in Los Angeles to coordinate our internal policy toward Latin Americans and our foreign policy toward
Latin America, and
- To publicize the progress of the local program for better understanding between Americans and between the Americas.