This is my chronicle from the August 29th Chicano Moratorium Commemoration in Los Angeles this year in 2015.
The history of the Chicano Moratorium held on August 29th, 1970 in Los Angeles is important in Chicano/Mexicano history. The attacks by the Los Angeles police resulted in three dead, the first martyrs of the movement. Two of them were members of the Brown Berets, Lyn Ward and Angel Diaz. The third was more well known, Ruben Salazar. He was a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and later a reporter for a local television station. He was a Chicano who was a mainstream journalist, and although he was one who not directly involved in the Chicano Movement, at the time he was one who articulated their views to a wide mainstream audience. His death ended a promising life. It also was a turning point in the Movement, and showed the stakes ahead for those involved.
Nearly every year since then the Moratorium has been commemorated, and August 29th has become known as Chicano Memorial Day, to remember those who lost their life on this day.
In Los Angeles this year, for the 45th anniversary, there were two marches for August 29th. One was held in East Los Angeles and recreated the original route from 1970, ending at the park which has been renamed Salazar Park in honor of Ruben Salazar. The other was held in Pacoima, a suburb of Los Angeles. This was related to politics around the National Chicano Moratorium Committee that started a few years back from now. From this, that is all I will say on it, as I am not that familiar with the politics on the ground here in Los Angeles to take a side of either. Some information is available online, and I will allow those who have experience on it to comment on it if they deem necessary. With that, as I was attending out of town, I could only attend one event, so this account is from the march in East Los Angeles.
The march participants gathered in the early morning on Saturday August 29th on the outskirts of East Los Angeles, on a route that would lead it to Whittier Blvd, down to where the original march ended. Some of the Organizers included members of Union Del Barrio, Brown Beret National Organization, and other autonomous Brown Beret organizations.
There was a minor occurance at the beginning when some supporters of Bernie Sanders attempted to coopt the march by waving their candidate signs to vote for him in the election. The organizers stood forth that the message of the march would be that of self-determination, and while supporters would be welcome to participate in the march, the march itself would not be seen as advocating for any candidate. It was the right move, as this should not be seen as endorsing any candidate in the electoral system. Also there are many problems with Bernie Sanders from an anti-imperialist perspective, and many speakers later called him out for his politics. This was the right move by the organizers.
About 100 participants started the march. Others joined in as the march progressed. It was emphasized at the beginning that the march was not just a commemoration but to rally around issues still relevant today. Chants included remembrances of Salazar, Diaz and Ward. Further chants included “Zapata Vive, La Lucha Sigue;” “Somos Un Pueblo Sin Fronteras;” “Esta Es Mi Tierra, Esta Es Mi Lucha;” “Chicano Power;” Signs included ones advocating for the 43 missing students in Ayotzinapa. Many people waved Mexican flags, along with other progressive and revolutionary signs and flags. The march was received well by many people along the route.
The march ended at Salazar Park. Different groups were tabling. Speakers gave speeches on the history of the three martyrs from this day, and on the need to continue the struggle the Chicano people are facing. Other groups gave solidarity statements. There was a wide variety of music entertainment, including a performance by Aztlan Underground.
Above all, the August 29th Commemoration here went well, was inspiring, and was an honor to be part of this event. As many of the speakers stated this day, it was not only to remember this day but to continue the struggle. This is a reminder that to honor those before us we must put forward the struggle for national liberation.