Chicago, IL - Veterans of the Chicano movement gathered in Casa Aztlan, Feb. 26, to welcome Carlos Montes to the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. The event was hosted by Magda Castaneda, an activist who participated in many of the struggles of Pilsen, including the fight in the 1970s to open the famous political space.
Aztec dancers gave a traditional blessing to Montes, a founder of the Brown Berets, and said that his activism in East Los Angeles demanding Chicano Studies and quality high schools had helped to make the establishment Casa Aztlan possible.
Montes was also welcomed with spoken word poetry by La Pixie, which linked the Puerto Rican struggle for independence with the Chicano struggle for liberation.
In the welcome, Occupy El Barrio activist Crystal Vance Guerra spoke about how the Occupy movement has taken inspiration from veteran activists like Carlos Montes. She said they have tried to make connections to issues of racist political repression and immigrant rights to the latest Occupy upsurge.
Hatem Abudayyeh gave an update of the FBI raids and the 23 activists who all refused to participate in a grand jury about supposed ‘material support for foreign terrorist organizations.’ He said that the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (stopfbi.net) has been told to expect indictments . Particularly chilling was when Hatem explained that the current prosecutor on the case is Jonas Barry, the same man who headed up the FBI's case against the Holy Land 5. That case is an example of the unjust targeting of the Arab and Muslim community - made more unbelievable by the 65-year prison sentences some of the people are currently serving.
Montes’ presentation added more details to what people already knew about his upcoming trial. He explained how the FBI was claiming that a charge from a 1969 demonstration and strike at East L.A. College was being used as the pretext to claim that he somehow had a current firearm code violation for several guns he had bought at a local sporting goods store over the past decade. The legal record does not support the FBI claim that the 1969 charge was a felony. In fact both sides agree that no prison time whatsoever was served in that incident.
Montes described how violently the SWAT team entered his home in the 5:00 a.m. raid. He talked about how an FBI agent attempted to question him about Freedom Road Socialist Organization while he was in the back of the police car. Many in the audience had been to the Republican National Convention protests in Minnesota in 2008 along with Montes and immediately recognized his case as a political witch hunt.
The event raised hundreds of dollars and gathered many new people who want to help make buttons, shirts, collect solidarity statements and plan more support events for Montes, and to the efforts of the Chicago-area Committee Against Political Repression.