Sleepy Lagoon was a hip hangout spot for young people in Los Angeles in 1943. One night, Hank Leyvas took his girlfriend, Dora, to the Lagoon. They were attacked by a rival gang, and later retaliated by gathering more of their friends to find and fight them. They saw and heard a party going on at a ranch near the Lagoon, and decided the attackers must be there. They stormed the party. Jose Dias, a partygoer and new army recruit, was murdered. Police arrested every zoot suiter they could find. Every Mexican-American boy became a suspect, and Hank Leyvas and his friends were taken into custody and indicted for the murder of Jose Dias. There was a great deal of racism by the judge and the jury during their trial, and they were sentenced to life in prison.
Soon after, the Zoot Suit riots took place on the streets of Los Angeles.
Within a year, the case was reviewed and it was decided that the trial had been unfair. The boys were released.