Los Angeles, CA #los-angeles-ca – Hundreds of people gathered in East Los Angeles on Saturday for a series of rallies marking the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium.
The Aug. 29, 1970, event started as a peace march and rally protesting the disproportionate death toll of Mexican American soldiers in the Vietnam War. But the day turned violent when sheriff’s deputies stormed Laguna Park and tried to disperse protesters with tear gas and clubs. Three people were killed, including Times journalist Ruben Salazar.
The 1970 rally, which was the biggest gathering of Mexican American demonstrators in U.S. history to that point, is recognized as a pivotal moment in the Chicano civil rights movement. Organizers of this year’s event point out that the issues highlighted — including racial injustice and law enforcement brutality — remain painfully relevant today.
Participants met Saturday at Atlantic Park and then planned to march to Laguna Park, which has since been renamed Salazar Park, for a second rally.
Before the march, about 15 Brown Berets from around the country formed a circle in the park as speakers reflected spontaneously on the meaning of the commemoration.
“It’s a continuation, not a celebration,” said L.A. native Lukas Tekolotl. “We are fighting for the same thing. That means we’re not doing something right. We’re not being effective. We have to look back.”
Sara Aguilar, 42, from Whittier, has taken to the streets annually for the Women’s March and most recently the Black Lives Matter movement. But as a Latina and a recent member of the Brown Berets, she couldn’t miss the Chicano Moratorium March.
Alongside her were Brown Berets from across the country: Houston, Chicago, Oregon, Fresno, Colorado and beyond.
She grew up in East L.A., and she hasn’t seen much progress since her youth.
“I don’t think much has changed as far as being treated equally or as a woman,” she said. “That’s why we’re still out here today. It’s not only a celebration but a continuation of our fight.”
She remembers, as a little girl in school, being “taught that I can’t speak Spanish and that I needed to learn English.
“I’m here to get back to my roots and fight for a future that’s different for the children.”
Kalpulli Tlaltekuhtli, an East L.A. ethnic dance group, performed in Aztec costumes with feathered headdresses and mandatory face coverings.
Rafael Avitia, co-chair of La Mesa Brown Berets, said the term “Chicano” encompasses all Indigenous people.
“We’re going to march and reassert who we are. La Gente de Aztlan [the people of Aztlan].”
Those gathered are protesting continued killings by both Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and Los Angeles police officers, as well as racism against the Latino community by the current presidential administration, according to a news release from Centro Community Service Organization.
Several other marches, forums and movie screenings examining the impact of the Chicano Moratorium will also take place this weekend. They include:
What: A march and socially distant car caravan hosted by the 50th Chicano Moratorium Committee along Whittier Boulevard to the site of the Silver Dollar Bar & Cafe for an outdoor performance of Teatro Urbano’s play “The Silver Dollar” and a program at Ruben F. Salazar Park.
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: 50th Chicano Moratorium car caravan meets at 10 a.m. and departs 11 a.m. from Gregg Road and Whittier Boulevard; the group’s march meets at 10 a.m. at Atlantic Park, 570 S. Atlantic Blvd., Los Angeles. Caravan and march will stop at 4945 Whittier Blvd. (now Sounds of Music) for “The Silver Dollar” performance on the way to Ruben F. Salazar Park, 3864 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles.
Info: chicano-moratorium-com or Chicano Moratorium Facebook page.
What: “Remembering the Life and Death of Ruben Salazar,” a 40-minute virtual panel discussion followed by a 40-minute Q&A session, hosted by the National Assn. of Hispanic Journalists, will be moderated by Associated Press reporter Russell Contreras with photojournalist Monica Almeida; L.A. Times staff writer Esmeralda Bermudez; University of Texas journalism professor Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez; Dawn Garcia, director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University; and filmmaker Phillip Rodriguez, director of “Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle,” and more.
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Info: Register at nahj.org/events.
What: A virtual screening of the Phillip Rodriguez-directed documentary “Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle” with opening remarks by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and actor-producer Edward James Olmos, followed by a live discussion and Q&A with Rodriguez, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, Univision “Edición Digital California” anchor Yarel Ramos, grassroots network Mijente co-founder Neidi Dominguez, author and educator Myriam Gurba and L.A. Times staff writer Daniel Hernandez.
When: 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday
Info: Register at chicanorebellionreconsidered.splashthat.com or USC Annenberg events page.
What: A Brown Berets march, speeches, reception and performance of Teatro Urbano’s play “The Silver Dollar” at an outdoor theater on the site of the Silver Dollar Bar & Cafe, where journalist Ruben Salazar was killed.
When: 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Meet between 3 and 4 p.m. at 4945 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles, site of the Silver Dollar, now Sounds of Music. (Some participants will meet between 1 and 3 p.m. at Belvedere Park and march to the Silver Dollar site.) After speeches and performance, march departs Whittier Boulevard location for Belvedere Park and outdoor theater at East Los Angeles Library, 4837 E. 3rd St., Los Angeles. Reception will follow.
Info: brownberet.us/upcoming-events or facebook.com/brownberetnational
What: Webinar series hosted by the 50th Chicano Moratorium Committee with activists, artists and others taking part in discussions, short screenings and performances. Hosted by Lupe Carrasco Cordona, Carlos Montes, Benjamin Prado and Sol Már.
When: 5 to 6:30 p.m. daily through Sunday, all day Saturday
Info: chicano-moratorium.com, 50th Chicano Moratorium Facebook events page or live streaming from co-chair Lupe Carrasco Cardona’s Facebook page or Ethnic Studies Now Coalition Facebook page, with past seminars viewable in the video section of mentioned Facebook pages.