Story & Photos: LRS Staff

The Zoot Suit Riots Cruise is the brainchild of Manny “Pachuco” Alcaraz and Art Zamora. Debuting in 2018, this organized cruise was designed to commemorate the infamous Zoot Suit Riots. At that, their first effort was humble, attracting only three cars. But by 2019, the cruise attracted a little over 100 vehicles, and even with a canceled 2020 event (due to Covid), that did little to stop its exponential growth as they rang in 2021 with well over 200 vehicles.

The kick-off started on Whittier Blvd, and as the procession made its way through DTLA, the streets came alive. The sounds of straight pipes and glass packs filled the air, sirens blared, and this was a day for lowriders to stand in unison. Cheers came from spectators and passerby’s, drones were flying high, photographers scrambled the route, and once the caravan hit DTLA, it was sheer madness. Everywhere you turned, there was a classic bomb, and to be honest, we would have needed a team of 20 photographers to cover a cruise of this magnitude. 

The event was supposed to end at Lincoln Park, but since park officials closed entry access, some gathered on the outskirts, while many headed out to Elysian or Montebello Park. It would have nice to have them all converge at one final spot to celebrate as one, but to do so would require proper planning and working alongside the city to pull permits. 

So enjoy the flicks, and we’ll see you all next year for the 2022 Zoot Suits Riot Cruise that’s set to take place on June 4, 2022.

A little about the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943:

The Zoot Suit Riots is tied to one of the most notorious events in Los Angeles history. The event unfolded when white service members targeted minorities who wore Zoot suits. Due to fabric rationing because of World War II, many found it disrespectful for minority youth (mostly Mexican American) to wear Zoot suits. Still, the attacks reached other minority groups, including blacks and Filipinos who fancied the garment style. 

Aside from the white servicemen, the media played a pivotal role in criminalizing the Zoot Suit, and local governing bodies were to blame. Local police were arresting pachucos for wearing their Zoot suits, and the continued mayhem led to a riot that lasted from June 3-8, 1943. While some say the riot stemmed from a lack of respect for fabric rationing, the bottom line was this was all the result of racial tensions.