Thousands of people turned for several processions through East Los Angeles to mark the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium March, a 1970 protest against the disproportionate impact of the Vietnam War on the Mexican-American community.
At least three parades Saturday — involving marchers, demonstrators in vehicles and participants in hundreds of classic cars — descended on Whittier Boulevard and made their way to Ruben Salazar Park, 3864 Whittier Blvd., for a mass rally.
One parade of people on foot began at Atlantic Park at 10 a.m., headed south and then east on Whittier to Salazar Park. A separate car caravan began in Pico Rivera, and also moved east to the park. Another procession began in the heart of East Los Angeles, at the former location of the Silver Dollar Cafe, where journalist Ruben Salazar was killed while covering the Chicano Moratorium on Aug. 29, 1970.
Among those who took part in the car caravan from Pico Rivera were Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo, who walked in the 1970 march as a teenager.
“The sharp and vivid memories of that day have inspired me every day for 50 years,” Cedillo said. “I can see the progress Latinos have made in every walk of life, but I also see inequality by so many yardsticks. Our communities suffer from the highest COVID infection rate and the highest incarceration rate. And 7,000 immigrant children who were torn from their parents’ arms are still in detention.”
Many in the crowd noted that not much has changed in the 50 years since the original march.
“It’s a continuation, not a celebration,” said Lukas Tekolotl told the Los Angeles Times. “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.”
The original march was in protest of the Vietnam War and the large percentage of Mexican-American casualties that came with it. Statistics from that era counted Latinos as white, but it is estimated that 170,000 Latinos served in Vietnam and at least 3,070 were killed.
As many as 30,000 people gathered for the Aug. 29, 1970 march and demonstration along Whittier Boulevard.
Scholars have described it as one of the largest ever gatherings of Mexican Americans, and the largest anti-war action by any single ethnic group in the U.S.
Law enforcement ultimately moved in, and chaos ensued as buildings were set on fire, dozens of vehicles were damaged or destroyed and hundreds of people were arrested.
At least three people were killed, including Salazar, who had made a name for himself as the nation’s first prominent Latino journalist working for a major news organization, the Los Angeles Times. He was also news director of KMEX-TV Channel 34.
Salazar was drinking a beer in the Silver Dollar Cafe on Whittier Boulevard when he was struck by a tear gas canister fired by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy. He died at the scene at age 42.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: