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Denver commemorates 50th Anniversary of Chicano Moratorium

By staff |
September 1, 2020
Plaque in La Raza Park, Denver, CO.
Plaque in La Raza Park, Denver, CO. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Denver, CO - On August 29, over 100 people gathered in La Raza Park in Denver to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium and to express solidarity with current movements against police brutality and for social justice.

The Chicano Moratorium was a march held on August 29, 1970 in East Los Angeles to protest against the high casualty rate of Chicanos in the Vietnam War. The protest also denounced the racist military draft and police brutality and oppression of Chicanos. Over 30,000 Chicanos and supporters from all over the U.S. turned out for the historic march. The LAPD and sheriffs brutally attacked the rally at Laguna Park, beating and using tear gas on hundreds while arresting scores of people. The people fought back, and many police went down, as the rebellion continued on Whittier Boulevard in East LA. The police killed event attendees Angel Diaz and Ruben Salazar. Ruben Salazar was a KMEX News Director and LA Times news reporter covering the historic event. Lynn Ward, a Brown Beret, also died during the demonstrations. Describing his experience at the demonstration, Arturo “Bones” Rodriguez says, “A battle takes place. Together we fought that battle. We didn’t have the weapons, but we had the heart. We had the spirit.”

The Denver demonstration started with a traditional Mayan prayer and Aztec dancers. The blessing was given by Mavis Salazar, who noted the importance of continuing the struggle today, saying “I want everybody to remember that the blessing today is for us to understand that we need to continue this fight. We need to continue this struggle.” After the blessing several speeches were given by Chicano and immigrant rights activists. Speakers included immigration attorney Arturo Jiménez, veteran Chicano activist Arturo Rodriguez, and Jeanette Vizguerra.

In addition to commemorating the Chicano Moratorium, calling for an end to police brutality and ICE terror, speakers also spoke of the ongoing campaign to rename La Raza Park, which is officially named Columbus Park. “We should all know the story of [the] genocide and terrorism of Columbus. So by 1970, our particular community was ready to change the name,” said Rodriguez, who has been active in the struggle to rename the park for the last 50 years. According to City Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval, who is leading the petition to officially rename the park, 300 signatures are required to rename the park and 780 signatures have been submitted and are awaiting validation.

After the speakers, the demonstration finished with live music from the Chicano protest band Los Mocochetes. Summing up the spirit of the original Chicano Moratorium and the contemporary Chicano movement, Rodriguez stated, “As indigenous peoples, we have a philosophy: Somos semillas. We are the seeds. They tried to bury us, but they forgot that we were seeds. And we are here today, and we’ll be here tomorrow, and we’ll be here for the next century, because we are in our land.”

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