The 41st Anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium

What do you picture when think of a protest against the Vietnam War (or as they call it in Vietnam, the American War)? Rallies in Berkeley? Killings at Kent State? How about 30,000 Chicanos of every age and background marching through East Los Angeles?

On August 29, 1970, that's exactly what happened. The march and rally was organized by the Chicano Moratorium, an activist movement led by Chicano students and Brown Berets. They decried the deaths of Chicanos in Vietnam and pushed for social justice in Barrios across the western U.S. During the rally, while children, youth, and families listened to speeches and enjoyed cultural performances, L.A. riot police attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and violence, turning a peaceful assembly into a riot. By the end of the day, buildings burned, many were injured, and four people were killed by police.

The Brown Berets were a militant Chicano activist organization who were involved in the historic high school walk-outs of 1968, when students protested conditions of Los Angeles public schools. An independent multi-racial, multi-generational chapter is alive and well in Fresno, and a strong contingent joined our action in Ventura last weekend. One of these elders who was present on that fateful day in 1970 told us the story of Ruben Salazar, a reporter who witnesses say was shot by police with a tear gas canister at point-blank range, killing him. Despite official accounts, witnesses believe this was a targeted killing of an outspoken critic of the LAPD.

At the Immigrant Rights march on May 1, 2007, we saw history repeat itself. But first we must be aware of our proud history. As communities of color organize for immigrant rights and racial justice, we need to honor and remain connected to the struggles of previous generations. That historical memory is alive and well. If you live in the Central Valley, please attend the annual Moratorium March for Peace this Saturday, August 27th in Fresno:

Gather at 2:00pm at Huntington and First Street

March begins at 3:00pm and travels down Kings Canyon

Program from 4:00-8:00pm at the Sal Mosqueda Community Center

And for a history lesson, check out this classic documentary about that day: