CITIZENS' COMMITTEE FOR THE DEFENSE OF MEXICAN-AMERICAN YOUTH
Following are excerpts from a letter recieved from Manuel Reyes, San Quentin inmate number 69597. Manuel was one of the 17 Mexican-American boys convicted in the "Sleepy Lagoon" case in Los Angeles. He is serving a sentence of five years to life, having been convicted of second-degree murder.
April 28, 1943. "...glad to know that they are letting the people know that there is prejudice against the Mexicans, and how the police treated us when we were arrested, just because we are Mexicans. Being born a Mexican is something we had no control over, but we are proud, no matter what people think, we are proud to be Mexican-American boys. I joined the Navy in July of last year. They didn't turn me down because I was a Mexican, because we are needed to fight this war. I was told to return back to the Navy Station to take my pledge, but unfortunately I was arrested for this crime, which I didn't have anything to do with or know of. When we were arrested, we were troated like if we were German spies or Japs. They didn't figure we are Americans, just like everybody else that is born in this country. Well anyway if I didn't get to join the Navy to do my part in this war, I am still doing my part for my country behind these walls. I am buying Defense Stamps and going to volunteer to do some war work. I am getting along alright. I volunteered to work in the jute mill for three weeks. The Warden asked for 400 men to work in the mill for three weeks, so I volunteered. They are going to move the jute mill to Folsom and want us to finish the jute on hand, then we are going to do war work, although some of us are already on some kind of war work.......Easter Sunday I went to church and received Holy Communion......"