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A Latinx Resource Guide: Civil Rights Cases and Events in the United States

1970: National Chicano Moratorium

Camilo J. Vergara, photographer. View toward Matthews St. from alley parallel to Whittier Blvd., East Los Angeles, 2013. 2013. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

On August 29, 1970, 20,000 to 30,000 demonstrators formed the National Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War and marched through East Los Angeles, with thousands of individuals organized by local Chicano moratoriums from the Southwest and California. This national coalition was one of the largest Mexican-American anti-war demonstrations—including the Brown Berets and student activists—who expressed lament over the disproportionate number of Mexican American troops drafted and killed or injured during the Vietnam War. Disparities in public education, systematic exclusion from higher education, and high unemployment rates among Mexican Americans also fueled the demonstration because they too contributed to Mexican Americans dying at twice the rate of any other group in Vietnam.

The demonstration commenced as a peaceful march but erupted in violence as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the scene, injuring and even killing three individuals—including Los Angeles Times journalist, Rubén Salazar. Fearful that demonstrators who entered the Green Mill Liquor Store to purchase cold beverages might loot the store, its owner called the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Brutality ensued as 1,500 police officers arrived at Laguna Park, shooting tear-gas canisters into the crowd and beating protestors. The Mexican American community mourned the death of Salazar. Ultimately, the City of Los Angeles renamed Laguna Park the Rubén Salazar Park to honor the fallen journalist and civil rights activist.

Timeline

November 1955- April 1975

The U.S joins forces with South Vietnam to fight communist North Vietnam and the Viet Cong. An estimated 58,000 U.S. servicemen died during the Vietnam War.

1968

Over 15,000 high school students protest educational disparities and walk out of seven different schools in East Los Angeles.

August 29, 1970

Rosalío Muñoz, UCLA’s student government president, forms the National Chicano Moratorium Committee. The Vietnam Moratorium Committee organizes anti-war demonstrations across the country, including protests in San Antonio, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

August 29, 1970 About 200,000-300,000 participants attend the National Chicano Moratorium. The march ends in violence which many attribute to the arrival of the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

Resources

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