Revolution #210, August 29, 2010

40th Anniversary of Chicano Moratorium

August 29, 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, when over 25,000 Chicanos (people of Mexican descent born or raised in the U.S.) from across the country marched down Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles to demand an end to the Vietnam War and an end to their oppression as a people. They marched under the slogan "Raza sí, Guerra no!"

This was the first time the Chicano people had ever come together in this kind of outpouring of protest. It came at a time when the country was being rocked by the anti-war movement, which in a span of 10 days had seen protesting students shot and killed by National Guard troops at Kent State, and by police at Jackson State; at a time when people in 100 cities rose up in rebellion after the murder of Martin Luther King; when the Black Panther Party was "ideologizing" revolution on the scene; and when revolution was part of the mix in society.

This day marked a leap in the struggle of Chicanos, who were dying by the thousands in Vietnam, while facing continuing oppression in this country—racism, police murders, back-breaking jobs, the destruction of their language and culture, and more. For instance, as of 1967 not a single Chicano had ever graduated from the UCLA medical school.

The authorities could not allow an aroused Chicano people to take matters into their own hands. Once the rally began, the L.A. County sheriffs used a minor incident a block away as an excuse to attack the crowd with tear gas and clubs. The people heroically defended themselves against this attack for hours. Three people were murdered by the sheriffs that day, including well-known journalist Rubén Salazar, who they shot in the head with a tear gas canister inside the Silver Dollar Café. 

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