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Tucson celebrates the 47th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium

By David Archuleta |
August 29, 2017
Tuscon event commemorates Chicano Moratorium.
Tuscon event commemorates Chicano Moratorium. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Tucson, AZ - On August 26, the immigrant rights action group L.U.P.E. (Lucha Unida de Padres y Estudiantes) hosted a community celebration of the historic Chicano Moratorium. This year marks the 47th anniversary of the anti-war march originally held in East Los Aneles on August 29, 1970. Set at the height of the disproportionate death rates of Chicano soldiers in the war in Vietnam, the march was the largest anti-war action of any oppressed nationality in the history of the U.S., drawing over 30,000 Chicanos in protest.

The notable event finds itself among countless others within the courageous history of anti-imperialist struggle in the Chicano community and its legacy is still felt by Chicanos living in the southwest U.S. Besides the numbers involved in the massive mobilization, the Chicano Moratorium is also remembered for the violent crackdown by police. Unprovoked, the LAPD and the sheriffs attacked with tear gas, beatings and arrests, resulting in the death of four persons. One of those murdered by police was Ruben Salazar, reporter, bureau chief, and columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Salazar had become prominent for his writings on police brutality, civil rights and many other issues that confronted the Chicano community at the time.

Simultaneously a grave tragedy and cause for a celebration of fortitude, the Chicano Moratorium has become an annual “Cultura Night” event for L.U.P.E., which seeks to celebrate events with significant cultural, social and political importance for the community.

Many local organizations participated in L.U.P.E.’s night of celebration, including UNIDOS, students from Desert View High School, Tierra y Libertad Organization, and Borderlands Theater. There were also select individual speakers including Yovannah Diovanti, a local Chicana artist; Enrique Garcia, a young brown poet; and Carlos Montes, co-founder of the Brown Berets and prominent activist in Centro CSO of Los Angeles.

The speakers at the event all focused around what Chicano history means for them now and how their work reflects that. “They don’t want us to know our history, they don’t want us to know about the Chicano Moratorium”, said Leo Herrera, youth facilitator at UNIDOS. UNIDOS is a group of students, alumni and activists dedicated to the struggle against the Mexican-American Studies ban that was implemented in the Tucson Unified School District in 2011.

Another local group, Tierra y Libertad Organization, discussed their work on implementing sustainability in the barrio, and taking ownership of the neighborhoods in which they live.

Carlos Montes, the keynote speaker of the night, spoke on Chicano liberation, and gave a look into the history of the movement, as well as the present-day struggles in Los Angeles and in the Chicano nation in general.

Amongst the many speakers on topics related to Chicano history and struggle, L.U.P.E. also saw fit to call out the incredibly appalling actions of U.S. President Trump, who recently pardoned the ex-Sheriff Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, best known for his racist stance on immigration and policing in general, as well as a recent convict of criminal contempt.

“It’s literally a slap in the face to our community,” said L.U.P.E. organizer Stteffanny Cott. Many noted that this an affront to ostensible democracy in the U.S. and basic human decency. What's more, his actions raise direct and offensive provocation to Chicanos in the Southwest, especially in Arizona, home to Chicano families, hotbed of U.S. immigration debate and a tragic death sentence by policy to hundreds of migrants every year.

“Anyone who is from Arizona has family members or friends who have been victimized and terrorized by Sheriff Arpaio’s policing in Maricopa County. We know to be on our toes in those neighborhoods, to avoid them,” lamented Zaira Livier, another L.U.P.E. activist.

L.U.P.E. is a grassroots community organization that advocates and practices political education and popular organization and mobilization for immigrant rights. As part of the Legalization for All Network (L4A), L.U.P.E. demands a just and humane immigration reform that includes legalization for all, no militarization of the border, no internal repressive policies, and no expansion of guest worker programs.

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