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Thread: 4 Arrested After Nationalist Group Holds Demonstration in Chicano Park

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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    4 Arrested After Nationalist Group Holds Demonstration in Chicano Park

    4 Arrested After Nationalist Group Holds Demonstration in Chicano Park


    Bordertown Patriots march down Logan Avenue toward Chicano Park in Barrio Logan. Courtesy OnScene.TV

    Updated at 3:45 p.m. Feb. 3, 2018

    Egg-throwing and at least four arrests were the result of dueling demonstrations Saturday at Chicano Park, where a group calling for the American flag to be displayed at the Latino landmark was met with hundreds of counter-protesters.

    The San Diego Police Department said one of the arrests occurred after an officer was punched in the face.

    A few dozen protesters, part of an event dubbed Patriot Picnic by the group Bordertown Patriots, gathered at the park at about 9 a.m. to call for raising the American flag over the site beneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan. The park features colorful murals depicting various elements of Mexican and Mexican-American culture.

    Counter-protesters also showed up, and police estimated their numbers at about 700 people.

    Police separated the two sides with officers, barriers, yellow tape and the entire width of Logan Avenue.

    “I came to support my friends who are here because they’re upset the American flag’s not flying in this park,” said a woman on the Bordertown Patriots’ side of the protest who asked only to be identified as “Lisa C.”

    “It’s not that we think it should be the only flag that’s flying, but the Mexican flag shouldn’t be the only flag that’s flying,” she said.

    A flag representing Aztlan — the legendary homeland of the Aztecs — usually flies over Chicano Park.
    View image on Twitter

    Nico Fronterizo@NicoFronterizo

    The stewards of #ChicanoPark are here with the original people to defend our sacred spaces.. Together#KumeyaayNation
    10:35 AM - Feb 3, 2018

    For some of the counter-protesters, though, it was more personal than a fight over a flag.

    “For us, this is one of our sacred spaces here in San Diego,” said Luis Miguel Tovar, who said he was performing a traditional Aztec dance at the park.

    “We’ve been here for hundreds, if not thousands of years. This is Native American land.”

    One of the Bordertown Patriots, Jourdin Davis, said he traveled from the Bay Area to take part in the demonstration.

    “I know this park is deeply connected to Latin American history, from what I hear,” he said. “But at the same time, you know, it’s U.S. land, and we should still be able to share it and support it.”

    One of the protesters. Courtesy OnScene.TV

    The two sides were kept separated enough that there were few chances for them to come into contact with each other. But once the Patriot Picnic attendees began leaving, police had a harder time preventing interactions.

    Two protesters began striking each other with a motorcycle officer in between them.

    One person threw eggs at the Bordertown Patriots group as they walked north on Logan Avenue.

    “I think it’s disappointing, but expected,” Lisa C. said.

    “Both sides aren’t going to come together and not have any issues. When the cops can’t watch each side perfectly, there’s gonna be a little action.”

    Nicole Orsi, one of the counter-protesters, said she was there because she heard “white supremacists” were going to be demonstrating at the park.

    “Supposedly, they say that this park is anti-American and that they feel threatened by it,” Orsi said. “But I feel the opposite, that Chicano Park belongs here.

    Diversity is what makes America a great place to live.”

    Bordertown Patriots representatives said that no white supremacists were at their event, and any who showed up would have been kicked out.

    “Those are rumors that were debunked on the spot.
    There’s no neo-Nazis or white supremacists here at all, or anybody who stands behind that philosophy,” Davis said. I just wanted to come down here and support the message, which is just coming to the park, having a nice, peaceful picnic at a park that’s still on American soil.

    San Diego City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez said she was at the counter-protest to support the neighborhood she was born in.

    “This is a historical park that comes from a lot of tears and sweat by the people in the ’70s, when the community was abandoned by the government for many, many years and this park is a creation of the community,” Gomez said. “(It shows) the significance of what brown people have had to face in this society, in the states. So I think we owe it to history to just give a little bit of space that is protected.”

    The dispute over the flag, she said, should be a non-issue.

    “It’s not a big park, and there’s many flags everywhere else. You step outside of here, you’ll see a flag,” she said. “They’re just trying to prove a point, and I think that point does not belong here in this particular space.”

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Why is there a "Chicano Park" in the US?
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Thee weren't any illegals arrested at the State of Union. Playing favorites?
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  4. #4
    Senior Member lorrie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    Why is there a "Chicano Park" in the US?

    You go there and you’ll think you are in Tijuana
    Last edited by lorrie; 02-05-2018 at 04:15 AM.
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  5. #5
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Interesting that the second largest community in this country was 20,000.


    The Takeover of Chicano Park

    ........Barrio Logan, in southeast San Diego, is referred to as el ombligo or navel, the center of the world. In the late 1800s the area had been known as East End; the name had been changed to Logan Heights in 1905. Mexican-Americans had settled in the area as early as the 1890s with migrations increasing from 1910 to 1920 as a result of a poor economy in Mexico and the Mexican Revolution. Within the mixed ethnic community, the number of Mexican Americans within Logan Heights reached 15 percent of the city's Mexican-American population by 1940.

    ........At one point in its history, Logan Heights had contained the "second largest Chicano Barrio community on the west coast, with a population of almost twenty thousand." The barrio had originally extended to the waterfront, where there had been a local beach and a community pier that had been constructed as a WPN project in the 1930s. When the U.S. Navy and defense industries moved in along the shores of San Diego Bay. Barrio Logan lost access to the waterfront, as well as housing and local businesses. The barrio recovered from these losses as U.S. citizens went to war and Mexicans obtained the jobs that had been created by the navel shipyards and defense industries. The neighborhood began to blossom with a sense of community pride among the residents.

    ........After WWII, the barrio began to change physically. In the 1950s, the zoning laws had been changed by the city of San Diego, from residential to industrial, allowing the influx of Anglo-owned auto junkyards. In 1963, Interstate 5 bisected the Barrio. In '1969 the Coronado Bay Bridge opened with its on-ramps and support pylons piercing the heart of the barrio. Because of the dislocation of families and business closures during these two major construction programs, by 1979 the population of the barrio had declined to approximately five thousand residents. City, state, and federal governments had dictated the policies of change in Barrio Logan. Residents had not realized they could petition City Council and express their opinions; there had been no local discussions regarding community and neighborhood planning. Many of the residents accepted the negative changes in their community as the way things had to be. In 1967, feelings of resignation and hopelessness began to change to those of empowerment, as community leaders began to demand a neighborhood park under the bridge pylons.

    ........Two years later in June, their demands were met, as the state of California agreed to lease to the City of San Diego a 1.8 acre-parcel of state land in Barrio Logan for a neighborhood park, located at the east approach to the bridge between Logan and National Avenues. The lease would run for a period of twenty years. James A. Moe, the director of state public works, explained that the state would prepare the site for public use. While the city would he responsible for maintenance and supervision of the land. Such an agreement would save the state twenty years of maintenance expenses.

    ........Agreement on the land lease between the city and state did not instantaneously create the desired park. In November of 1969, city officials were awaiting the passage of a new state law which would allow the site in question and "other unused parcels of land near highways to be used as community recreational areas." The law became effective November 9. The residents of Barrio Logan had obtained their tiny neighborhood park, with their eye on adjacent parcels for further expansion. As early as 1967 neighborhood representatives had informed city officials of their desire to obtain all the land under the bridge supports for a park in the heart of their barrio.

    ........For five months residents waited for development of the park land to begin. On April 22, 1970, bulldozers at last appeared under the pylons, grading a three acre parcel of land adjacent to the park site. The bulldozers had not come to extend the park, but to prepare a site for the construction of a California Highway Patrol station. The parcel had been acquired by the state in August 1969 after the Coronado Bay Bridge had opened. Chicano residents were furious, believing they had been deceived by city and state officials regarding the development of their park. Demonstrators appeared at the site by 7 a.m. One infuriated resident, Mario Solis, informed residents of the situation, going from door to door. Students, informed of the events while in their Chicano Studies classes, . immediately descended upon the park. Joined by local residents both young and old, they formed a human chain around the bulldozers, forcing the construction work to stop, as was ordered by Captain V. J. Herz, the Highway Patrol commander on site. Residents began to work the land, planting cactus. magueys, and flowers. The Chicano flag was raised on a telephone pole, initiating the occupation of Chicano Park.

    ........Councilman Leon Williams, working with Barrio Logan residents, held a meeting with some of the two hundred fifty demonstrators that evening at the Neighborhood House, a local community center. He had received a message from James Hall, representing the state's department of transportation. Further construction would not begin until a meeting could be arranged for neighborhood, city, and state representatives. Hall was specific in explaining the position of the state.1. The property the Chicanos want for a park belongs to the highway patrol.

    2. It is up to the city of San Diego to negotiate with the highway patrol for it.

    3 There will he no further work on construction of a highway patrol station at the site.

    "Mike Arnador, director of the Community Action Council in that area," expressed the community consciousness that demonstrations would continue, and that the city had been deceived by the state as to the use of the land in question. Spokesman for the students, Mario Solis, explained that the demonstrators would return the following morning at 7:30 a.m. Students would not return to class, but would remain on site.

    ........City officials, meeting with protesters at the community Neighborhood House on April 23, Ńheard many angry vows that the issue was settled, that the site will be a park because that is what the people of the community want." Jose Gomez, vice-president of City College, stated. "The only way to take that park away is to wade through our blood." Mike Amador reminded officials, "In 1967 I asked for all the land under the bridge approaches for parks." In response to the impassioned statements, Councilman Williams responded that "he had been unable to get results from public officials at any level." Other officials attending the meeting included ........Jacob Dekema, district manager for the Division of Highways, D. T. Donaldson. supervising inspector of the highway patrol. Captain Vincent J. Her/. and Lt. Larry Watching of the highway patrol, Pauline Des Granges, city director of parks and recreation' and Clinton McKinnon of the San Diego Urban Coalition. An artist by the name of Salvador Torres was in attendance that evening. In his speech. he expressed his vision of local] Chicano painters and sculptors turning the bridge pylons '`into things of beauty, reflecting the Mexican-American culture. We are ready to die "~9 In response, young people at the meeting began to stamp their feet in rhythm, shouting "Viva la raza!" one young man, identifying himself only as a student at San Diego State. directed his statement to city officials:

    ........The word culture is used. To you culture means Taco Bell and the funny Mexican with-, the funny songs. We gave you our culture of a thousand years. What have you given us? A social system that makes us beggars and police who make us afraid. We've got the land and we are going to work it. We are going to get that park. We no longer talk about asking. We have the park.

    ........During the occupation of Chicano Park, the three-acre parcel was transformed into a desert garden of plants and grass. Chicano youth and student organizations from Santa Barbara and Los Angeles traveled to Barrio Logan to offer their support. Women prepared meals for the demonstrators, while others donated trees, seeds, and fertilizer. The occupation represented the first time in which residents had come together in unity for themselves and their community. ........As the park was being transformed, city officials were searching for available land adjacent to freeways, which would be suitable for a highway patrol station If such a site could be found.. the city would then trade it to the state for the occupied site in Barrio Logan.

    ........San Diego's assistant city manager Meno Wilhelms announced, May 1, 1970.. that an agreement with the state had been reached. and that negotiations concerning a land exchange could begin. The state specifically required the property to be cleared of demonstrators before negotiations could begin. Reluctantly, after twelve days of occupation, the Chicanos vacated the site, subject to conditions Stipulated by the Chicano Park Steering Committee. Demonstrators would not occupy the land. Rather, they would place five to ten people on the sidewalks surrounding the area, to inform residents of the progression of events. Jose Gomez spokesman for the Steering Committee, unrealistically stated that an agreement between the city and the state should he negotiated within fifteen to thirty days. If such an agreement had not been formulated by that time, the land would be re-occupied ). Mr. Wilhelms related the first stop in negotiations, locating an acceptable, alternate site for patrol headquarters. Not until such an agreement could be reached would any consideration of leasing the state property question begin.

    ........Council Williams again met with over two hundred people in the auditorium of Lowell Elementary School on May 5, promising the park land they desired. He tried to reassure them that if the city said it would acquire the land for a park, the city would certainly follow through. One resident attending the meeting, Hector Chavez, responded to Williams' stating that land had been vacated in order for the city to begin negotiations. A vow to re-occupy the land was again stated, if a transfer of land could not be completed within fifteen to twenty days.

    ........Formal negotiations did not begin until May 14. Williams announced in a prepared statement the city's interest in working with Barrio Logan to develop a community park, and that the city was searching for an alternate site for the patrol station. Mr. Hall, the state director of transportation, appointed Richard C. East to work with the city. Mr. Hall also stated that negotiations would be immediately terminated if the land were re-occupied by the community.

    ........On July 1. 1970. a $21~814.96 contract was authorized by councilmen for the development of the 1.~-acre parcel of land for a park in Barrio Logan, whose lease had been approved by the state in July of the previous year. The site would be graded. and sidewalks, a sprinkler system, and drinking fountain would be installed. The soil would be prepared for landscaping. The area to be developed faced the area now in dispute. City Manager Walter Hahn stated that the city intended to acquire this land to expand the park under the Coronado Bridge. The Chicano Park Steering Committee had prepared a model to illustrate the concept of a community park, and had informed the Department of Parks and Recreation of the desired name for the park, Chicano People's Park. Agreement between the city and state regarding the city's acquisition of state land in Barrio Logan was acknowledged on July 2. Meno Wilhelms, Assistant City Manager, presented a letter from the state to the City Council for approval of the terms. City Manager Walter Hahn was selected to sign the agreement and to participate in the negotiations of the final contract. The terms of agreement, including the purchase of part of the land, were as follows:

    1. The City pay not less than the state's investment in the land. The amount is not to be less than $203,500.

    2. If the transfer of title should be accomplished by an exchange of property, the site to be transferred to the state must he acceptable to the California Highway Patrol. The CHP presently occupies the land on a lease from the state.

    3. The CHP shall have the right to remove special equipment from its buildings on the leased land.

    The city also agreed to lease various parcels under the bridge pylons, the terms of which were:

    1. The city shall assume full responsibility for the development and maintenance of the park facilities on the leased premises. If development has not been commenced within eighteen months, the lease may be terminated.

    2. If the park is not used, the state shall automatically terminate the lease and may require improvements to be removed. By March 1971, there had been no physical construction or development by the city on the three-acre parcel of land. which had been acquired by the city eight months previously. The young Chicanos in Barrio Logan were extremely inpatient with the delays, and Walter Hahn was asked to investigate. Mr. Hahn explained that an acceptable site for the CHP had been found, and that the exchange of land was close to completion. He relayed that an application had been made for a federal grant of $207,000 to purchase a building on the site, to be used for a community center. The city had also proposed capital improvements of $321,500 for The park and community center, for 1972.29 An announcement in April stated that work crews would be allowed to enter the park on May 1, but that the usual red tape would probably cause further delays. In an effort to expedite matters the city created an escrow, "permitting detail] work to proceed on local, state, and federal levels while the necessary legal and legislative steps are taken.ć Before the city could take possession of the land and building. major developments had to be completed:

    1. Passage of an emergency bill now before the state legislature that will permit the city to trade an alternate site for the CHP headquarters.

    2. Arrival of a letter from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HTJD) giving preliminary approval for a grant of two-thirds the cost of renovating the building into a community center. The city would forfeit such a grant if it took possession of the building and made major renovations before preliminary approval from HUD.
    3. Receipt of a deed from the highway patrol for the building and the one-third acre of land it covers and transfer of a deed to the highway patrol for a 1.85 acre site between Interstate 5 and Pacific Highway just north of the San Diego flood control channel. ! City officials were unable to provide a time frame for the arrival of the HUD letter and the transfer of deeds. explaining that these conditions had to be meet before escrow would be closed. At that point. the Toll Bridge Authority would grant a thirty-year lease for 4.5 acres of land to the city of San Diego for park development. including facilities for child care adult education. health services, employment counseling, social services, and a teen postć in addition to converting the existing building into a community center. The original 1.8-acre parcel had been developed into a children's play area.

    Communications between city and state officials finally arrived before the State Assembly in the form of a bill on April 26. 1971, allowing the exchange of land between the city and the state. The bill had been authored by Peter Chacon from San Diego' and co-authored by Wadie Deddeh from Chula Vista. The bill, unanimously approved by the Assembly 60-0, was then introduced to the Senate, where it passed without opposition On Mayy 23, the bill was signed into law by Governor Reagan. Jesse Ramirez, representing the Chicano Federation. expressed the sentiments, of the community upon the closure of negotiations The residents were pleased. and vowed to work with city departments of Planning, Community Development and Parks and Recreation to develop their dream.

    ........Celebrations of Chicano Park Day began in 1971 to commemorate the park takeover on April 22, 1970. One thousand people attended the first celebration which included cultural events and political speeches. Chicano Park Day is a symbol of community organization fighting to save a culture and a neighborhood, and should provide a positive example to other neighborhoods within San Diego that are fighting to stay alive.

    ........The painting of murals in Chicano Park had been discussed as part of the total park development since 1967. Local Chicano art groups, Los Artistas de los Barnos, Los Toltecas en Aztlarz and El Congresso de Artistas Chicanos en Aztlan, had established themselves in San Diego between 1968 and 1972. Salvador Torres, an artist and resident of Barrio Logan, had been a member of the two previous groups, and had organized the third. He is generally referred to as the architect of the dream of Chicano Park.

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  6. #6
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    The activist's view...from the steering committee La Tierra Mia, Chicano Park Steering Committee.

    The Battle of Chicano Park:
    A Brief History of the Takeover
    By Marco Anguiano, Chicano Park Steering Committee

    Chicano Park - Reclaiming Aztlán

    On April 22nd and 23rd, 2000, we celebrate the 30th birthday of Chicano Park - "La Tierra Mia" - "Our Land." We commemorate this sacred place and we honor those people - some alive, some passed away - who planted, painted, protected and nurtured Chicano Park. The birth of the Park is the story of a barrio tragedy transformed into triumph. It is the history of the Chicano Mexicano people struggling to reclaim our heritage and our right to self-determination. The Park is where our history is enshrined in monumental murals. It is where we keep making history as we fight to preserve and defend a small piece of Aztlán known as Chicano Park in Barrio Logan, San Diego.

    By taking Chicano Park, the "myth" of Aztlán metamorphosed to reality. Aztlán - the southwestern United States was the ancestral land of the Aztecs. These ancient people migrated to the Valley of Mexico and founded an empire whose capital was Tenochitlan, now Mexico City. By claiming Chicano Park, the descendants of the Aztecs the Chicano Mexicano people begin a project of historical reclamation. We have returned to Aztlán - our home.

    A Park for the Raza of Logan Heights, Aztlán

    In many ways Chicano Park is like any other park. It's where families gather to have a reunion or a picnic. Where the crisp tempting smell of carne asada floats in the air. Where the high pitched giggles of chamaquitos and chamaquitas reverberate against the cement pillars as they climb, slide and swing on a playground that people struggled and sweated for.

    It's a park where youngsters bounce a basketball on the court or challenge each other to a round of handball; Where couples exchange wedding vows in the Kiosko. Where a grandmother - nana - gently pushes a stroller along the walkways to pacify a grinning, gurgling baby.

    Unlike other parks, el Parque Chicano pulsates when trumpeting shells, throbbing drums and percussive rattles proclaim the beginning of a Danza Azteca ceremony.

    Unlike other parks, Chicano Park displays on its monolithic pillars, one of the largest assemblages of public murals in North America. These awe inspiring murals are giant mirrors of our Chicano Mexicano history.

    Unlike other parks, Brown Berets fired raised shotguns in militant salute while a Mexican flag was raised and waved defiantly during Chicano Park Day ceremonies. And unlike other parks, Chicano Park was taken by militant force by a community angered by decades of neglect, ignorance and racism.

    La Raza Moves to Take the Land

    For decades, the Chicano community in Logan Heights had thrived as a small, self-reliant neighborhood. Mexicanos had always been part of the community. Since the 30's many more moved there as laborers, cannery workers, welders, pipefitters, longshoremen, etc. For decades, community residents had asked city officials to build a park in the barrio.

    After World War II, the city, with complete disregard for Barrio Logan residents rezoned Barrio Logan to allow the influx of industry, junkyards, metal shops and other toxic businesses incompatible with a residential community. City burrocrats and politicians seemed to care less about the predominantly Chicano barrio.

    By the mid-1960's, the community was bisected by the construction of Interstate 5, an eight lane freeway that tore Barrio Logan in half and displaced many lifelong residents. A community gathering place, the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe was no longer in the center of the Barrio. It now faced a barren asphalt freeway flanked by a 40 foot high cement retaining wall.

    According to Victor Ochoa, a Chicano Park mural coordinator from 1974 through 1979, "They threw Interstate 5 in the barrio, taking something like 5000 families out of the barrio."
    When the Coronado Bridge, which intersects Interstate 5 in the heart of Logan Heights, was completed in 1969, it left a jungle of concrete pillars where many families had lived before.

    The "Paul Revere" of Chicano Park

    On April 22, 1970, Mario Solis, a student at San Diego City College ditched class and was strolling casually through the Barrio Logan in the area below the bridge. He ran into construction crews, equipment, machines and bulldozers.

    Solis asked the construction workers, "what are you going to be doing here?"

    The crewmen responded that they were "building a parking lot for a Highway Patrol station"

    Solis was stunned. He told the crew that the people of the community had other plans. He said, "It'll be a park!" The construction crew cackled and laughed in response. Little did they know who would have the last laugh.

    Solis rushed back to City College and interrupted a Chicano Studies class taught by Gil Robledo. He alerted the students in the class and demanded to know, "...what are you guys gonna do?"

    Students and Activists on High Alert

    Robledo's students who included Rico Bueno, Josie Talamantez, David Rico and others "went on red alert," according to some of those present. Bueno wrote and printed flyers and directed others to area schools and to surrounding barrios to sound the alarm - that this was the final straw. Bueno, a Vietnam veteran later threw away his service medals in protest against the war at a Chicano Moratorium march.

    Women, men, children, activists, students, residents the youth, the elderly and entire families gathered at the construction site. At day's end, two to three hundred people had congregated. They evicted the construction crew and seized the land.

    Solis, a Brown Beret, as well as a student, commandeered a bulldozer and ignited and gunned its engine. He begin flattening the land while others planted cactus, plants and trees. The people begin to build a park. Long time barrio residents like Laura Rodriguez brought tortillas, rice, beans and tamales to feed the rebels.

    "What I still remember is that there were bulldozers out there," says Ochoa. "And women and children making human chains around the bulldozers and they stopped the construction work. They actually took over those bulldozers to flatten out the ground, and they started planting nopales and magueys and flowers. And there was a telephone pole there, where the Chicano flag was raised."

    Police and Authorities are Stunned

    According to veteran activist David Rico, current chairman of the Brown Berets de Aztlán, "When the cops showed up during the takeover of the Park, they demanded to know who the leaders were, so we pointed to somebody over there and that somebody would point to somebody else who would then point somebody else - you had a lot of confused cops. We had the system very, very confused."

    Al Puente, then a San Diego police officer on the Barrio Logan beat, years later divulged that the police department was confused since they had never experienced such an incident before - where an entire community had rebelled. Although Puente had earned a reputation as rough cop in the barrio, years later he related that he warned police against attacking the protesters since many women and children were among those at the site.

    The land underneath the bridge was occupied. An unprecedented coalition of barrio residents, students, and community activists, Brown Berets and Raza from barrios throughout San Diego and Aztlán united and confronted the bulldozers and stopped the construction of a Highway Patrol station. At a community meeting that night, activist Jose Gomez stated, "the only way to take that park away is to wade through our blood."

    Chicano Park Steering Committee formed

    On April 23 the Chicano Park Steering Committee was formed to direct the community effort to build a park and confront state and city authorities. Activists demanded that the property be donated to the community as a park in which Chicano culture could be expressed through art.

    "Our community had already been invaded by the junkyards, the factories and a bridge had even been built through our barrio," declared Jose Gomez, "some of us decided it was time to put a stop to the destruction and begin to make this place more livable."

    "We are ready to die for the park," Salvador "Queso" Torres, a community artist shouted to a gathering of city and state officials while supporters stamped their feet in rhythm and shouted, "Viva la Raza!"

    The Coronado Bay Bridge was built at the height of the Chicano Movement. There was a great awareness at the time about the militancy that was all to often necessary to attain our rights. The establishment of a California Highway Patrol station under the bridge was a final insult to the people of Barrio Logan, a community that already had many grievances against local police.

    The occupation of Chicano Park lasted twelve days. People of all ages worked together to clear the land and plant it. Supporters arrived from all over the state. Finally an agreement was reached between the Chicano community and the city, which agreed to acquire the site from the state for the development of a community park.

    Chicano Power Peaks in San Diego

    Many of the same activists involved in the takeover of Chicano Park were also central to the occupation and founding of the Chicano Free Clinic (now know as the Logan Heights Family Health Clinic) and the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park.

    The creation of Chicano Park was a defining moment in Chicano history and in the history of Barrio Logan, as well as the City of San Diego. Respected leader Josie Talamantez, then an 18 year old student at San Diego City College and a resident of Barrio Logan, explained the exaltation of the community in the park takeover:

    "I was living a block from the site and my family had been very much involved with trying to get a park in this area for a long time. I felt proud. It was the first time that I had seen Jose's (Gomez) mother and my mother and the little kids and a lot of the people in between all working together."

    One of the park's original muralists Mario Torero, linked the Park to Chicano identity: "We can't think of Chicanos in San Diego without thinking of Chicano Park. It is the main evidence, the open book of our culture, energy and determination as a people."

    Ramon "Chunky" Sanchez, composer and singer of the rousing anthem "Chicano Park Samba," said, "There's an energy there that's hard to describe - when you see your people struggling for something positive, it's very inspiring. The park was brought about by sacrifice and it demonstrates what a community can do when they stick together and make it happen."

    Ernesto Bustillos, another veteran activist termed Chicano Park, "A Liberated Zone," where Raza from all walks of life, students, barrio residents and activists joined forces to retake our land. Chicano Park has provided us with the freedom to practice and express our ideas, our culture and our traditions. In short, the struggle for Chicano Park has become symbolic of our Raza's struggle for self-determination, our right to Aztlán and who we are as an indigenous people.

    A Never Ending Story

    There is no end to the story of Chicano Park. It is a living history. As long as Raza take responsibility to preserve and defend the park and Barrio Logan, it will survive and thrive.
    Since the reclamation of the land, there have been many difficult and exhausting struggles to preserve and defend the park. We highlight a few:

    Grand Jury Attacks
    The battles included the San Diego County Grand Jury's so called "investigation" into Chicano Park Steering Committee which resulted in the evacuation of the Park building by the Chicano Federation in 1979. The Chicano Park Steering Committee has been homeless since, but holds meetings throughout the community and is open to anyone who wants to be involved.

    Building the Kiosko
    The construction of the Kiosko (1972-77) went through a maze of San Diego City burrocratic red tape. After years of meetings the project was hijacked and funding withheld by so called city council representative Jess Haro. Haro wanted a "Spanish style" architecture for the kiosko." When finally confronted at a community meeting, Haro backed off. The Kiosko was dedicated in 1977.

    All the Way to the Bay
    The "All the Way to the Bay" (1970-88 campaign spearheaded by Ronnie Trujillo of the CPSC asserted the right of Barrio Logan residents to have the only access to the bay and to extend Chicano Park all the way to the waterfront. Activists challenged the San Diego Port District and other agencies from San Diego to Sacramento. Ground was broken for the bay park in 1987 and the park completed in 1990.

    The Murals and the Retrofit
    In the mid-1990's, Cal Trans, the agency responsible for the San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge, proposed an earthquake safety bridge retrofit plan that would've destroyed the Chicano Park murals. In response certain community "representatives" formed the "Right Directions Committee" to squeeze Cal Trans for "mitigation money."

    The Right Directions Committee assumed that the retrofit was a foregone conclusion and the murals would be inevitably destroyed. They wanted to press CalTrans for their pet projects in exchange. This "committee" began holding forums at the Barrio Station. When the Chicano Park Steering Committee found out about this "movida," mural supporters rallied to the forums and challenged Cal Trans and their proposals. The Right Directions committee dissolved itself in the face of community opposition to the retrofit.

    After many militant marches, press conferences and negotiating sessions with Cal Trans, they relented and under the advise of professional engineers found a method of retrofitting the pillars that spared the murals. This retrofit work continues to this day, while the Chicano Park Steering Committee is the watchdog of the construction.

    Even in the Quietest Moments
    Then there are the meditative moments in Chicano Park - when the din of the traffic evaporates and you're alone facing the monoliths of history - prisms reflecting our lives, our history, and our struggle.

    It's our church, where we reflect on the spirit of those who struggled to create and preserve the Park.

    It is our school, where we learn our story - our history written, painted and told by us for generations to come.

    It's also during these contemplative moments when Chicano Park becomes the paramount icon of our Raza's aspiration to control something meaningful in our lives - Chicano Park symbolizes our sacred right to self-determination.

    1) Historic Resource Evaluation Report for the SD-Coronado Bay Bridge, Chicano Park and the Chicano Park Murals, Jim Fisher, staff historian/planner; 1996
    2) Made in Aztlán, Centro Cultural de la Raza, fifteenth anniversary exhibition catalog; Philip Brookman and Guillermo Gomez -Peńa, editors; 1986
    3) Chicano Park Day programs, 18th, 20th and 27th anniversary editions; 1978, 1980, 1998
    4) San Diego Union Tribune, 1995,1996, 1997.

    Chicano Park Takeover Participants
    Video of Chicano Park Takeover, 1970 (courtesy of Sonia Lopez and SDSU Spec Collections)

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