A young Chicano man in Los Angeles and leader of the 38th Street Gang. He is passionate and stands up for himself, sometimes in a hot-headed way, but he is not the criminal that the police and the media make him out to be. He is very proud, and at times has trouble accepting help from those who want to save him. Henry is also a committed family man, and wants to return to his community in the barrio.
Della is Henry's girlfriend, who testifies on his behalf. She dreams of marrying him, and is fiercely devoted to him, even when he goes to jail. In the course of her testimony, the prosecution seeks to manipulate her words and confuse her.
George Shearer is a public-defense lawyer tasked with working on behalf of the members of the 38th Street Gang. He is a good man who wants to help them, and proves his trustworthiness by speaking Spanish to the gang members. However, towards the end of the case, he gets drafted to the army and must leave their case behind.
Alice Bloomfield is a white activist and journalist who is interested in making sure the case gets the exposure it deserves. She is a Jewish communist and her progressive politics drive her to help combat racism and prejudice within the system. She and Henry develop an intimate relationship while he is in jail.
Rudy is Henry's younger brother. While he was involved in the Sleepy Lagoon incident, Henry covers for him, because he doesn't want his brother's record to be tarnished. While Henry is in jail, Rudy joins the Navy.
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