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LOS ANGELES CIO COUNCIL'S STATEMENT ON
RECENT RACE RIOTS HERE
In the past fifteen days Los Angeles has experienced serious race rioting.
These riots had their inception in relatively innocent disputes between groups of United States sailors and civilians, largely
youths of Mexican origin.
These relatively inconsequential dispute were fanned into riotous proportions by:
- The irresponsible, misleading and inflammatory treatment of the incidents in the public press, particularly the Hearst press.
- Failure of police and other law enforcement agencies to act quickly and decisively to restore and maintain order. (Some police
actually encouraged and aided marauding groups of service men.)
- The general background of hysteria that has been created in the past six or eight months with respect to youth problems, particularly
problems of minority race groups.
The race rioting that resulted served to disunify the people in this vital war production area; created new and unjustified
prejudices against Mexicans and Negroes on one hand and, to some extent against members of the armed forces on the other;
and had the tendency of straining relations between our country and our ally, Mexico.
All this benefitted nobody but Hitler.
The CIO condemns the manner in which the press, particularly during the first few days of the rioting, played up in sensational
and inflammatory fashion, facts and half-facts, and in many instances just plain untruths and imaginary happenings in connection
with the riotous incidents.
The CIO censures the actions of those police and sheriff's deputies who stood by idly and "looked the other way" while service
men sought out and mercilessly beat innocent civilians whose only crime for the most part was that their skin was darker than
their tormentors'. Those instances in which police encouraged rioting by one means or another are worthy only of strongest
The CIO, while condoning no type of hoodlimism or disorder, by whomever committed, believes it was unfortunate that men of
our glorious armed forces should have "taken the law into their own hands," whatever their real of fancied grievances.
Aware of the seriousness of the situation, the CIO initiated a call to citizens and leaders of organizations, who met, formed
the Committee for American Unity, and acted promptly to bring an end to rioting.
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The CIO commends this Committee for its most effective work and authorizes continued participation of CIO in its longer-range
We commend the Commanding Officer of the Navy for prompt action in declaring Los Angeles "out of bounds" for sailors until
order was restored.
We commending the Commanding Officer of the Army for his public warning that any soldiers engaging in rioting would be held
accountable under military law.
We commend the OWI for its insistence that news and radio reports be purged of hysteria and inflammatory material.
We particularly commend the five-man committee established by the Governor, whose deliberations were directed by Attorney
General Robert W. Kenny and whose findings and recommendations, while probably not complete or totally adequate, served greatly
to clarify the atmosphere, placed blame properly, and prescribed effective cure.
The CIO endorses the recommendations of the Kenny Committee and pledges full support in putting them into immediate effect.
The CIO does not deny the existence of delinquency amongst youth, but points to the findings of the Kenny Committee that increase
in delinquency has been less amongst Mexican youngsters than amongst youth generally.
The bugaboo of "zoot suiters" is repudiated by the facts — clothes do not make the youth good or bad.
Environment — opportunities, both economic, educational, recreational, etc., DO have a great effect on youngsters of all races.
The CIO therefore urges:
- An end to discrimination in whatever form.
- Equal opportunity in industry — to employment, and to advancement on the job — for all.
- More adequate public housing for Mexican and Negro people to end the abominable congestion in ghetto quarters.
- Increased recreational facilities with proper supervision for congested areas.
- A changed policy and attitude by police and other law enforcement agencies toward minority groups and an end to the theory
apparently so prevalent that "an Mexican kid is a good suspect."
- A program in every local union of the CIO for special attention to the problems of members who are of minority races or groups,
both on and off the job; and an energetic organizing drive amongst minority workers so that through labor union affiliation
they may effectively participate in carrying out such a program.
Issued by: LOS ANGELES CIO COUNCIL, 5851 S. Avalon Blvd. Zone 3 6/22/43