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The Chicano Moratorium

By the end of the 1960s, it was an open secret that Mexican-American casualties in Vietnam (20% of the total) were disproportionate to the total Chicano population nationally (10%). The Chicano Moratorium was a collective effort to raise awareness of the Vietnam War as a civil rights issue, and gave rise to a series of marches and rallies in East Los Angeles beginning in 1969. It was led by activists from local Universities and colleges, as well as members of the Brown Beret group – a high school student movement that had staged walkouts in 1968, and gained the support and participation of a far wider community across the South West of the USA. It peaked with a march from Whittier Boulevard to Laguna Park in East Los Angeles, on August 29 1970, which drew some 30,000 demonstrators. This rally however was broken up by local police, who, claiming to have heard reports of a robbery, declared the gathering to be illegal and unleashed teargas on the crowds. Many were injured, more than 150 arrested and four were killed, including Gustav Montag, Lyn Ward, José Diaz, and award-winning journalist Rubén Salazar. Known for his reporting on civil rights issues - including police brutality - Salazar was reportedly killed by a tear gas canister fired by police into the Silver Dollar Cafe.

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