We, citizens of the United States, call your attention to the Sleepy Lagoon case and petition you to free the seventeen boy victims of that case, sixteen of them Mexicans, who are now serving sentences in prison, three for life, nine for five years to life, and five for six months to one year—for alleged assault and for the supposed murder of one man.

These boys are innocent. The court records of the trial contain no evidence to prove them guilty. The defense attorneys state that there is no basis for the conviction.

They were found guilty because they are Mexicans. Anti-Mexican prejudice and hysteria prevailed in the court room, in the press and most shockingly in an official report submitted to the Grand Jury by Ed Duran Ayres of the Sheriff's Office of Los Angeles. This report, remarkable in its oneness with Hitler's doctrine of race superiority, states that there is a "biological basis" for crime in Mexican youth and that they should be punished collectively.

The way was paved for the Sleepy Lagoon case by the creation of a "zoot-suit crime wave" by the defeatist press and other agencies interested in playing Hitler's game. The Sleepy Lagoon case in turn prepared the way for the later outbreaks of violence in Los Angeles, Beaumont, Detroit, and other parts of our country; outbreaks which in the words of President Roosevelt, "endanger our national unity and comfort our enemy".

The Sleepy Lagoon case, to our shame, has become known throughout all Spanish-speaking countries. Thousands of people here and abroad feel, and rightly so, that these boys were the victims of anti-Mexican prejudice. The imprisonment of the seventeen youths is an injustice to more than themselves. It is an injury to the reputation of our entire country as a "good neighbor". It is an injury to the internal unity of our country. It is a blot upon the state which sanctions or perpetuates such an injustice. It helps Hitler.

It is within your power to end this dangerous situation at once by releasing these seventeen boys. Appeals are now pending in the courts, but appeals will take time. The boys have already spent over one year in prison. Tomorrow or next year it may be too late to undo the mischief caused by their conviction. For internal and international unity, as a blow against the Axis, and as a guarantee that race hatred and anti-democracy are being expunged from this nation, we urge that you act at once.