Forty-five years ago, Mexican-Americans were enrolled in the military in disproportionate numbers, dying at twice the rate of their white counterparts in the Vietnam War. “That’s why we had to start our own anti-war movement,” said Rosalio Muñoz to the BBC. Across the nation, Chicanos began to protest the discriminatory practices, which came to be known as the Chicano Moratorium. It came to a head on August 29, 1970, with the National Chicano Moratorium March in East Los Angeles.
After about a three-mile walk, they ended up in what was formerly known as Laguna Park. Police responded by moving and pushing people out of the way, Muñoz recounts. There was a lot of back and forth, and more police officers were added to the mix. “And then the tear gas starts coming,” he said. Muñoz was advised by a friend to look for someone to help him leave. Others headed to a nearby gas station that was letting people who were exposed to the tear gas wash their faces, and there was a long line of people waiting to get their turn. Three people died at the rally, including journalist Ruben Salazar, who Muñoz described as a megaphone for their message. Laguna Park was later renamed in Salazar’s honor. “That day, Chicanos said that we were going to be a voice in this country,” he said, “and we no longer wanted to accept a second-class status.”
Watch the entire video here via the BBC.