Chicano Thematic Essay Example


The following essay provides an overview and analysis of a military protest, as well as the way it was repressed by the government in the 1960s. The study of the group of people representing Mexican-Americans is depicted in this essay; the way this conflict influenced the Mexican-American community, the Chicano movement in particular, was depicted here in detail. The officials were using police forces to bring down the movement in any ways possible, while Chicanos did all they could to make their participation more active, including harassment of their political opponents and acting brutal towards police. Chicano Moratorium rebellion and the assassination of Ruben Salazar were the most memorable events of August 29, 1970 since they represented the appearance of militarized Mexican-American riots, severe repression of that riot and the reply of Mexican-Americans to police activities. Chicano movement was greatly emphasized by the police’s cruelty and became a powerful means for making the Mexican-American society more politically active and powerful.

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Ruben Salazar’s Assassination

East Los Angeles witnessed one of the most powerful demonstrations ever in its Mexican-American neighborhood on August 29, 1970, as people of Mexican origin who lived in the USA all came out. Rosalio Munos, the President of the students’ league and the anti-war activist at UCLA, headed the committee which arranged the National Chicano Moratorium demonstration aimed at struggling against the disproportionality of the number of people of Mexican-American background in the times of Vietnam War. According to the LA Times article, police forces arrested hundreds of activists, with over 40 people being injured and 3 persons killed by the end of the day. Ruben Salazar happened to be one of those who were murdered; he was the Times columnist and at the same time KMEX (LA’s top Spanish-speaking TV station) director. He was shot by LA County deputy sheriff Sgt. Wilson, who was hitting the Silver Dollar Café with tear gas shells while Salazar was just drinking beer.

According to the Sheriff’s Department announcement Wilson was shooting towards the café since he was informed of the armed man sitting in there, and Salazar’s murder happened to be a kind of misunderstanding. However, majority of Mexican-Americans concluded that Salazar was assassinated as a result of his political activity on behalf of LA’s Mexican-American community; he also allowed militant critics some air time on KMEX. Mexican-Americans called him a martyr and the events surrounding his murder were used by activists to bring the community of Mexican-Americans together. All the events mentioned above represented the beginning of Mexican-American military protest, as well of repressions by officials and the reply of Mexican-Americans to the actions of police forces. Chicanos, a military organization of Mexican-American activists, was running a campaign aimed at stopping the discrimination against people of Mexican American origin living in the US for three years in a row. This campaign was also represented nationwide by a number of small conflicts where issues like farm hands’ rights, educational problems, Vietnamese war and police brutality were raised. All of these movements were united under the name of Chicano.

At the same time LAPD and other police departments around the state were working on the destruction of Chicano movement within California. Initially police officers used their administrative powers to pursuit Chicano movement activists and try to intimidate or even arrest them; they also suppressed any sort of demonstration with violence. Next, LAPD officers were infiltrated in a few local Chicano organizations in order to gather data regarding any activities of Chicano, as well as to break such organizations from the inside committing diversions etc. Last, but not least was the engagement of LAPD in the ever popular activity of faulty labelling of Chicano activists, red-baiting and accusing of belonging to the communist party in order to discredit the members of the Mexican-American community.

The results of LAPD’s efforts appeared to be different from the expected ones since LAPD’s tactics gave certain success, but this allowed Chicano activists to organize the community and increase the participation level of everyone in it. As a result of police brutality and violent actions the Chicano movement grew even worse and went to the next level, resulting into even worse resistance to the police. The abovementioned conflict allowed to make Mexican Americans more politically oriented and provided them with clear sense of ethnic identity. It also heightened the motivation of the community to overrule the existing subordination. All of this resulted into the top determination of the community to act under the lead of Chicanos and their mutual efforts resulted in the creation of new institutions that allowed to decrease the influence of the police on the protesters.

Oscar Acosta-The Revolt of the Cockroach People

Local police officials started acting more violently after the 1968 student marches, when a total of over 10 thousand high school students from the East LA, led by Chicanos, left their classrooms to oppose their inferior education. The walkout was organized by the activists of the few top organizations like UMAS, Brown Berets; students asked equal opportunities same as the ones provided to the students in the white schools. They also wanted changes to their curriculum, where more accents would have been put on Chicano history, being taught by the Mexican-American teachers, as well as the amnesty for both teachers and students who were imprisoned for the participation in the walkouts. Police officers were arresting all the people they could during the walking protests. Their main explanation for such actions was the supposed participation of communists in the walkouts and their attempts to influence the students.

Oscar Zeta Acosta was a dedicated learner of cultural identity and the search for the better career opportunities brought him to the LA in the late ‘60s, when the city’s political history was developing in a galloping manner. He commenced protecting different groups of Chicano activists, e.g. St. Basil 21 and Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez. He often appeared as a lawyer in the most challenging political, social and educational cases where the rights of Chicanos were suppressed. According to Acosta, Salazar’s assassination was just a purely simple political murder. He published a novel titled “The Revolt of the Cockroach People”, which was later on used as a metaphor for all the minorities in the societies who keep on their existence. It is an interesting fact that events in his novel revolve around the issues of religious disorder and racial protests. Buffalo Zeta Brown decides to counter-attack and serve to the people after he is excluded from church. The attorney of the Chicano movement made it clear that he did not belong to his ethnic background. The main character of Acosta’s novel constantly moves away from anything religious-related. Buffalo Zeta Brown, the Chicano attorney, is clearly made American in the very beginning of Acosta’s novel based on his appearance and actions (Acosta, 68). By the end of the novel he faces an issue of inability to remain both a Chicano and the lawyer and the unacceptance by the society (Acosta, 223). Despite the fact “The Revolt of the Cockroach People” describes racial-based issues and politics, it also happens to show the story of a man searching for his own self within his native Latin American culture.

American culture appeared too corrupt and racist in the view of Chicanos. In order to show their protest to it they created the all new notion of “chicanismo,” a way to show their rejection of any assimilation. Chicanos made an official statement declaring themselves nonwhite minority and joined the other racial groups in a struggle to gain the equality through the mutual social and economic transition of power.

Armando Morales Contribution

According to the 1972 studies of A. Morales majority of the survey respondents who evaluated the actions of police in regards of Chicano considered police as overreacting, making too many insults and unlawful actions during the arrests, performing custody or handling riots. His study also showed that people who believed so were united by age, class and their gender; even those having different political views than Chicanos supported the same idea. Based on his findings Mexican-Americans fully agree with the actions of Chicanos during their fights with police. In other words, the political views of Mexican American became more dependent on their ethnic origins and prone to become politically active based on the same beliefs. Due to the long-lasting conflict between the LAPD and Chicanos Mexican Americans managed to create a new political consciousness based on ethnic solidarity, as well as admittance of their position in the society and a will to be more politically active and violent in order to eliminate the subordination.


Four main goals of the Chicano movement are: preserving the Mexican-American pride and cultural identity; creating of a political paradigm of oppression and exploitation of Mexican Americans; using the factors like pride and feeling of being exploited to strengthen a political movement adding power to Chicanos; putting an end to the discrimination by whites that affects the lives of Chicanos. The entire Chicano movement lasted at the period of political transformation of the US. Warlike social movements evolved and police tried to suppress them, often succeeding. At the same time different movements that saw themselves as offended minorities presented new types of consciousness that started using conventional political methods for presenting their annoyance. As a result of police brutality Mexican Americans who resided in Los Angeles area realized how much oppressed and exploited people they were. This led to the increase of level of solidarity among the members of the Mexican-American community. Finally, this led to the growth of level of people’s activity in various political groups.