Los Angeles, CA - The powerful slogan “Chicano power” was heard here as marchers headed down Whittier Boulevard in the heart of East Los Angeles, Aug. 28. The 40th Chicano Moratorium against war had participants from as far away as El Paso, Texas and Arizona. Large numbers of high school and college students joined with the many veteran activists of the late 1960s. The march message was clear, “No to war” and “Legalization now.” Many onlookers smiled and waved to the marchers.
This year’s protest was organized by several groups including the August 29th Chicano Moratorium Organizing Committee, the National Moratorium Committee and the new Brown Berets. The rally speakers talked about the need to continue the struggle against war and the fight for Chicano self-determination.
August 29 marked the 40th anniversary of the historic Chicano Moratorium protest against the Vietnam War. On Aug. 29, 1970 over 30,000 Chicanos marched down Whittier Boulevard in the heart of East Los Angeles protesting the Vietnam War, the high casualty rate of Chicano soldiers and racist conditions in the barrios.
The 1970 rally held at Laguna Park by the Chicano Moratorium was brutally attacked by the combined forces of the Los Angeles city police and the Los Angeles county sheriffs. Whole families were beaten and tear gassed. Youth responded by defending the rally with their bare hands. A rebellion followed for the entire day, where later Ruben Salazar, a Los Angeles Times journalist and Spanish TV news director, was killed by a sheriff at the Silver Dollar. He was shot in the head with a tear gas missile projectile normally used for barricaded situations. It is important to commemorate the Chicano Moratorium because it is part of our history of resistance that is not always taught in history classes. This event is also part of the long struggle of Chicanos for self-determination and liberation.
Today it is important to continue the fight against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and to protest the military recruitment targeting Chicanos and especially immigrant youth.