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46th Chicano Moratorium demands end to racist police attacks

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September 2, 2016
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Chicano Movement veterans Vicky Castro and Rey Andradeand others watch a film.
Chicano Movement veterans Vicky Castro, and Rey Andradeand others watch film showing Chicanos taking the streets on Aug 29th, 1970. (Fight Back! News / Staff)

Los Angeles, CA - In Boyle Heights, on Monday night, Aug. 29, a 100 people, youth and veterans, gathered at the PUENTE Learning Center to celebrate the 46th Chicano Moratorium. Organized by Centro CSO, the event was energetic and empowering.

On Aug. 29, 1970, in East Los Angeles (ELA) over 30,000 Chicanos demanded equality and an end to the Vietnam War. They marched through the streets chanting, “Raza si, guerra no!” The peaceful rally was brutally attacked by the LA Sheriffs and Los Angeles Police Department. Hundreds were violently beaten and gassed - leading to what is now known as one of the biggest Chicano rebellions. Three were killed: then-Los Angeles Times reporter Ruben Salazar, Angel Diaz, and Lynn Ward. The Chicano Moratorium is presently and commonly referred to as “Chicano Liberation Day” - a day of struggle for the Chicano people.

Vietnam War veteran Ray Andrade, and now a well-known TV producer, was raised in the Ramona Gardens Housing Projects in Boyle Heights and spoke at the commemoration of the Chicano Moratorium. Andrade stated, “When I went to fight in Vietnam I kept thinking, ‘Why am I here? No Vietnamese ever called me a ‘spic’, ‘beaner’, ‘greaser’, ‘wet-back’, like what I was called while in the U.S.' It took me months of recovery, after being shipped out of Vietnam, to realize who the real enemy was and is. The enemy wasn’t the Vietnamese; the enemy are the cops who patrol us in my streets, who kill people like me.” Andrade participated in the 1970 Chicano Moratorium.

“Going against the grain at the time – which was joining the military to fight in Vietnam like my brother did – I took to streets to protest the Vietnamese War. We demanded an end to Chicano drafting resulting in Chicano deaths,” said Victoria Castro. Castro is a former LA School District Board member and principal at Hollenbeck Middle School, and was present at the Chicano Moratorium in 1970.

The commemoration also addressed the oppression of Chicanos today. Speakers talked about the current struggles to stop police killings of young Chicanos in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles.. Many families of victims of police violence joined the event.

“Shooting my son 17 times, is something I will never accept as ‘necessary’ by ELA Sheriffs,” said Estela Rodriguez, mother of Edwin Rodriguez, who was killed by ELA Sheriffs on Feb. 14. “I will never let my son’s killing go in vain. As Edwin’s mother I will continue fighting to jail the killer sheriffs responsible for his death.”

Juan Mendez, father of 16-year-old Jose “Peruzzi” Mendez, spoke to the crowd. Jose Mendez was killed by LAPD on Feb. 6. His father said, “Newly released video shows LAPD dragging my son’s lifeless body out of the vehicle he was in. LAPD shot Peruzzi over 13 times – claiming every shot was absolutely necessary. I will never rest until my son’s killing, along with all other killings in Boyle Heights, see justice.”

Present in support was the mother and uncle of Jesse Romero. Romero was the 14-year-old shot and killed by the LAPD in Boyle Heights on Aug. 9.

Also in solidarity was Black Lives Matter activist Angela James. She spoke in solidarity between Blacks and Chicanos and talked on the current fight against police killings.

The event was moderated by long-time Chicano revolutionary and member of Boyle Heights community group Centro CSO, Carlos Montes. He gave a talk on the importance of commemorating August 29th - Chicano Liberation Day as a day of struggle for the Chicano people. He stated, “Today as Chicanos we continue striving for equality. Jail killer cops, and fire LAPD Chief Beck!”

Sol Marquez spoke on behalf of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, “Liberation for Chicanos means no more police brutality, no more killings like the ones we heard of today. We must stand with our Black brothers and sisters in the Black South to combat the oppression by U.S. Imperialism. Together with the multi-national working class we must build long-lasting movements and activity. Only in this manner will we finally be free.”

The event was concluded by chanting, “Chicano! Power!”, “Chicana! Power!” “Worker! Power!” “Black! Power!” Centro CSO is calling for people to join in the fight against police terror. They plan to continue the struggle against the killings of Chicano youth in Boyle Heights.

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