SLEEPY LAGOON DEFENSE COMMITTEE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES — When a handful of motion picture stars go to a premier, it's big news. But when 300 outstanding stars, directors and writers pay five dollars each to go to a buffet to help 12 Mexican-American youthful victims of race prejudice, all Los Angeles metropolitan daily newspapers except one ignored the event.
The exception was the Los Angeles Daily News which broke the silence which has greeted the setting up of a national committee, headed by Carey McWilliams, famous author of "Factories in the Field" and "Brothers Under the Skin", to raise funds to appeal the convictions of the Sleepy Lagoon boys and win their release from prison.
A few days before the big Hollywood event, the boys who are serving sentences ranging up to life imprisonment got the first break given them by any writer on any big city newspaper when Matt Weinstock of the Los Angeles Daily News commented on the exceptionally fine records the boys are making at San Quentin penitentiary, devoting the major part of his daily column to the case and declaring, "The irony is somewhat heavy when a dozen boys, pushed around outside, find democracy inside prison walls."
Before the Weinstock column and the report of the Hollywood event in the news columns of the Daily News, the only help the boys had received had come from the labor press which saw the case as an expression of native fascism and a threat to labor. The general commercial press tagged the boys as "Zoot-suiters" and ran long, sensational articles about "Zoot Suit Gangsters", "Mexican Mobsters", etc.
Weinstock wrote: "Last January 13, a Los Angeles court convicted 17 boys in the Sleepy Lagoon case. Twelve were found guilty of having conspired to murder Jose Diaz, five of assault.
"This was before the socalled zoot suit riots of last June, though it in a sense set the stage for them.
"Since, the Sleepy Lagoon case has become a cause celebre. Certain liberal elements see in it the seeds of a rising fascism. They are raising money to appeal the convic[text ends here]