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Gloria Arellanes headlines at commemoration of Chicano Moratorium

By Sol Márquez

Gloria Arellanes speaking at commemoration of Chicano Moratorium.

Los Angeles, CA – On Aug. 29, the strong and inspirational Gloria Arellanes spoke at the Centro CSO yearly Chicano Moratorium commemoration, held at Self Help Graphics. Arellanes, who is a proud Chicana and Tongva, spoke about her invaluable experiences while building the Chicano movement for self-determination and liberation.

“I grew up with parents who insisted I call myself ‘Chicana,’” said Arellanes. “But I’d later find out that I was both Chicana and that through my mother was also Tongva. Not many people grow up understanding and embracing their roots.”

When the East LA Chicano Student Blowouts/Walkouts of 1968 happened, Arellanes was already a full-fledged militant, serving as the first female Minister of Finance and Administration of the Brown Berets. During this time police, the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover and President Nixon saw the Brown Berets as a dangerous organization.

Arellanes would go on to participate in the Poor People’s Campaign during the summer of 1968, in Washington D.C., where she marched alongside New Mexico-based Crusade for Justice leader Corky Gonzales, as well as many East LA Chicano activists like Carlos Montes. Additionally, Arellanes helped build for the now famous Chicano Moratorium of August 29, 1970, after helping with the first one of December 1969.

“I had left the Brown Berets in 1970 around that time and joined the Chicano Moratorium Committee,” said Arellanes.

Arellanes then helped create the Las Adelitas de Aztlan – an all Chicana, women-led and organized group. Arellanes recounted that during the March 1970 protest the Las Adelitas created signs and posters, and marched in the pouring rain, stating “We carried white crosses to show the high number of deaths during the Vietnam War. I was carrying the cross with my cousin’s name on it.”

Remembering the August 29, 1970 moratorium, Arellanes said, “I was there when LAPD and the LA Sheriffs turned our peaceful and beautiful rally event into a horrifying and bloody one. I have PTSD from what they did to us. I was tear gassed and I couldn’t breathe. People were running and screaming. Corky Gonzales, the rest of the Crusade for Justice, and countless others were brutally arrested that day.”

Arellanes talked about the aftermath of the 1970 Moratorium. “I was attending the memorial service for Lyn Ward, and what did I see in the bushes? Detectives surveilling us. The complete disregard for our lives, the ones they themselves had taken, was too much for me. They killed Lyn and then they continued to spy on us to see how we would react. I took a long break from activism after that.”

After the Chicano Moratorium repressive measures would be taken by the government to violently destroy the Chicano movement with Infiltrators and agent provocateurs.

The Boyle Hight’s commemoration of the 48th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium included many of the original members of the Chicano Moratorium Committee.

Arellanes continues to organize, working with Centro CSO and Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles to demand Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey prosecute killer cops. Arellanes is proof that the fight for self-determination and liberation is never over. With a growing resurgence of the newest generations returning to Chicanismo, Chicano elders are encouraged to join in the fight once again.

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