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Empowering Boyle Heights event marks 47th anniversary of Chicano Moratorium

By staff |
August 31, 2017
LA commemoration of anniversary of Chicano Moratorium
LA commemoration of anniversary of Chicano Moratorium (Fight Back! News/staff)

Los Angeles, CA - Greeted by enthusiastic Centro CSO members, home-cooked food, and Chicano liberation music, history and politics, more than 60 participants gathered to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium in Boyle Heights.

The first part of the event included an opening speech by Chicano revolutionary Carlos Montes, who was one of the founders of the Brown Berets, which helped organize the first Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam war in December 1969. He spoke of the need to stand in solidarity with oppressed nations of the world fighting U.S. imperialism. Sol Marquez of Freedom Road Socialist Organization spoke about Chicanos of Aztlán needing revolution.

“The Chicano Moratorium was a great event that taught me a lot I didn’t know about Chicano history,” says Dafne Jacobs of Centro CSO. Jacobs was among the Centro CSO members who greeted attendees. “Getting to hear from people who were there and have been in the struggle for so long was amazing and inspiring, especially in times like these when it can be easy to feel hopeless and alone. It gave me hope to continue fighting against oppression and imperialism, to get justice for the mothers and families of young Latinos that have been harassed and killed by police and justice for so many others that have been wronged by the state.”

Guest speaker Cruz Becerra, who was another founder of the Brown Berets, one of the East LA 13, and a Vietnam war veteran said, “The imperialism we marched against in 1970 has not changed. It has no respect for human life, not the more than 3 million Vietnamese who were killed, not the million Iraqi lives lost, nor the victims of the daily bombings in the Middle East and Africa. There can be no peace or justice until the world is free from imperialism.” Becerra was present during the Chicano Moratorium of 1970.

First held December of 1969, the moratorium was originally against the drafting of and high casualty rates for Chicanos from East LA and Boyle Heights in the war on Vietnam. In addition, the original moratoriums of the 1960s and 70s fought against the police brutality directed at Chicanos. The August 29, 1970 Chicano Moratorium, attended by 30,000 Chicanos, was attacked and brutalized by the LAPD and LA County Sheriffs. Three were killed by the cops: Univision and Los Angeles Times reporter Ruben Salazar, Lynn Ward, and Angel Diaz.

While there currently is no drafting of Chicanos, the U.S. military continues a major recruiting campaign in high schools in Chicano communities and there continues to be pressure to become an LAPD Cadet. LAPD Cadets are youth from ages 13-20 and are trained by LAPD to become either future cops, or to serve as a neighborhood ‘eyes and ears’ to report back to local police. These cadets then become the next police officers of LAPD who kill at some of the highest rates in the country. Military recruiting also continues on college campuses of Los Angeles. East Los Angeles College (ELAC) is among the campuses that features all branches of the military eagerly drafting students to become new soldiers.

The second portion of the Boyle Heights event featured four mothers whose children had either been brutalized or killed by the LAPD. The crowd cried as the mothers described in detail the horrors before learning of their children’s fate at the hands of the killer cops. Cheers erupted when each of them promised to continue fighting for their sons’ justice.

Blanca Dueñas, mother of Arturo Y Torrez, who was killed April 10, 2016 by LAPD said, “Because of what they did to my son, whenever I see a cop I immediately raise my arms. I yell that I’m not armed! Maybe this way they’ll remember me as the mother of a son they killed.”

In 2016, the LAPD killed five Chicanos – all in the same neighborhood of Boyle Heights. This year, LAPD has already killed two more, and seriously injured others.

Organizers from the Centro CSO thanked all who attended the event commemorating the 47th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium and invited all attendees to follow up with a call-in day urging California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to add LAPD onto the state list of police departments to investigate.