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The Los Angeles riots (called the Zoot Suit Riots) were different because white servicemen and civilians initially attacked young Latino men who were wearing zoot suits and then other minorities in the area.
In 1942, socioeconomic conditions worsened as wartime shortages affected more people. Economic restrictions limited the availability of consumer goods, but defense workers were making good money and were ready for some goods after the privations of the Great Depression. Roosevelt announced a policy to end discrimination in employment in the defense industries through his Executive Order 8802 of 1941; he wanted to encourage all American citizens to support the war effort.
Workers were attracted to the buildup of high-paying jobs in the defense industry, concentrated at the shipyard, as Beaumont was located on the Neches River northeast of Houston on the Gulf Coast.
A presidential Executive Order 8802 was issued to prohibit racial and religious discrimination among defense contractors, and African Americans sought a share of opportunities in the high-paying jobs.
From 1940 to 1943, Beaumont had grown more than 33% from 59,000 to 80,000 persons; both African Americans and whites flocked to the city for the industrial jobs.
Twenty-nine cases were turned over to civil authorities on charges of assault and battery, unlawful assembly, and arson. No one was prosecuted for the deaths that occurred during the riots.The woman was unable to identify any prisoner as her alleged assailant.Breaking into small groups, white mobs attacked and terrorized black neighborhoods near the jail in the central and north parts of the city, and destroyed 100 homes.About 2,000 white workers, joined by 1,000 more whites, advanced on the jail where suspects were held.By the time they reached the jail, the mob numbered 4,000.
The city transportation could not keep up, and crowds added to the tensions between passengers on the segregated system.