Luis Sifuentes speaking with the family of David Ordaz Jr. on stage at Chicano Moratorium.
(Fight Back! News/staff)
East Los Angeles, CA – On Saturday, August 26, over 300 people, mostly Chicano, gathered at Salazar Park in East Los Angeles for the 53rd Chicano Moratorium. Led by Centro CSO and other allied organizations, speakers both commemorated the 53rd anniversary of the protest that took place at the same location on August 29, 1970 and highlighted the ongoing struggle for Chicano self-determination. Demands included legalization for all of the undocumented, community control of the sheriffs, no U.S./NATO wars, and protection of public education.
On August 29, 1970, 30,000 Chicanos from across the Southwest marched through the streets of East LA to protest the high levels of Chicano casualties during the Vietnam War. The East LA Sheriffs and other LA police forces attacked the protest once it arrived at Laguna Park, (now Salazar Park). On that day, police killed Lyn Ward, Angel Diaz, and Ruben Salazar, a leading Los Angeles Times journalist who covered the Chicano movement and was targeted for assassination by the sheriffs due to his reporting on police crimes.
Antonia Montes, co-chair of Centro CSO’s education committee, opened the Moratorium by remembering Dr. Roberto Cintli Rodriguez, who died on July 31. A victim of repression by the East LA sheriffs, Rodriguez became an author and professor who documented the killings of Chicanos and fought for Raza Studies in Arizona.
After the tribute to Dr. Rodriguez, Carlos Montes, a founder of the Brown Berets and today a leading member of Centro CSO and Freedom Road Socialist Organization, gave a kickoff speech that contextualized the Moratorium as a protest against U.S. imperialism and for Chicano self-determination. Estela Ayala of el Partido La Raza Unida then followed with a blessing and an acknowledgment of Salazar, Diaz, and Ward.
Luis Sifuentes, co-chair of Centro CSO’s Police Accountability Committee, spoke about how the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has only grown more powerful since the killing of Salazar. The department’s budget has ballooned into the billions while deputy gangs, which officers join by provoking and even killing people as part of an initiation process, have spread throughout the county. He called on those in attendance to join Centro CSO’s struggle to expose the deputy gangs as part of a petition drive in East Los Angeles. Supporters can sign the petition at https://tinyurl.com/NoDeputyGangs.
Sifuentes, accompanied by the family of David Ordaz Jr., who was killed by LASD in 2021, said, “Centro CSO is campaigning for our right as working-class Chicanos to have power over these institutions. We need to have power over these institutions filled with criminals that run amok and unhinged. We need to have the power to jail killer cops when they murder innocent people.”
David Pulido of CSO Orange County explained how the Santa Ana Police Department has corrupted their city council, which allows the SAPD to continue “arresting, locking up and killing Chicanos.” Diana Terreros, a member of CSO OC as well as Freedom Road Socialist Organization, connected police crimes to the national oppression of Chicanos across Aztlán. Terreros said, “We need self-determination, the right to determine our own destinies. We can accomplish this by organizing, by taking power from the ruling class and putting it in the hands of the Chicano working class.”
Baba Akili, a leader in Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, highlighted the solidarity between African Americans and Chicanos in the fight against police brutality in Los Angeles.
After a danzante performance from Xipe Totec and spoken word by Matt Sedillo and Cristal Haro, Sol Marquez, a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Centro CSO, gave a speech about how she’s a member of FRSO because it takes up the question of what it means to be Chicano and how to fight for liberation. Marquez rallied the crowd by saying, “Make some noise if you think the only way to win Chicano liberation is through revolution!”
Ernesto Ayala of el Partido La Raza Unida, and Vanessa Bustamante gave empowering speeches urging all in attendance to get more involved in Chicano movements. Fernando Ledezma of Los Rucos, and retired Eastman Avenue Elementary teacher spoke about growing up Chicano and the continued struggle for Chicano rights.
Alex Orellana, a Teamster at UPS and a Marine veteran, spoke about the need for Chicanos to join unions and fight the boss at their workplaces rather than enlist in the U.S. military. Victor Rodriguez, another Teamster at UPS and a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, explained how Teamsters in Los Angeles and across the U.S. won a massive contract campaign against UPS.
Next, Chicano Secret Service, a comedy troupe which uses humor to tackle political issues that Chicanos confront, performed a series of skits. One featured Vice President Kamala Harris visiting East LA while the other starred Elias Serna as Che Castro, a Chicano revolutionary who was “conceived at the Moratorium and born on Cinco de Mayo.”
After Chicano Secret Service’s performance, Antonieta Garcia of CSO’s education committee and Lucia Garcia of Eastside Padres Contra Privatizacion spoke about how charter corporations are proliferating on LA’s Eastside and destroying public education for Chicanos. Presenting her resolution to fight charter co-locations, Rocio Rivas, the Los Angeles Unified School District board member for District 2, said, “In LA. we’re fighting privatization because we have wonderful neighborhood public schools that have been here for generations.”
Other groups represented included the Brown Beret Organization and La Mesa Nacional de Los Brown Berets called for Chicano self-determination throughout Aztlán. LA MAS and the Peace and Freedom Party called for unity in the struggle against monopoly capitalism. Eden Enamorado spoke about experiencing first-hand police brutality from police in LA and his work defending street vendors.
Jordan Peña of CSO’s Immigration Rapid Response Team closed the rally by recognizing how more than 50 years after the original Moratorium, both veteranos and youth were united to fight for Chicano liberation. He led the crowd with the chant, “Chicano power, Chicana power, que viva Aztlan!”