DENVER (CBS4) – Multiple groups organized a demonstration at a park the community calls La Raza Park, formerly known as Columbus Park, in Denver on Saturday. They protested to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the day when 30,000 Chicanos gathered in East Los Angeles to protest the “high casualty rate of Chicanos in the Vietnam War.”
Longtime Chicano activist, Arturo Rodriguez, was 20 years old when he made the trip from Denver to LA to participate in the Chicano Moratorium. On Saturday, he described his memories of seeing police break up crowds with tear gas and clubs.
“Multiple people were injured, four deaths, so we’re commemorating this event. It’s taking place nationally as we speak,” Rodriguez said.
For Rodriguez, 2020 also marks the 50-year anniversary of another moment in the Chicano movement. In June of 1970, Rodriguez and others staged protests and “splash-ins” at the pool that used to be located at Columbus Park. At the time, Rodriguez and others wanted to see more job opportunities at the park for the Hispanic community and demanded the name of the park be changed to “La Raza” Park.
“We knew we were right in terms of changing the name 50 years ago, and we know that it has to be changed, just like other racist statues and names,” Rodriguez said.
This summer, Denver City Councilwoman, Amanda Sandoval, led a similar effort, gathering 780 signatures from community members, she told CBS4. According to Sandoval, the petition still needs verification before it can go to the Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
“This time it’s going to get done, we’re doing it,” Sandoval said. “They asked for this 50 years ago. That’s too long to wait.”
Organizers are using the day of action to demand the end of police brutality, sexism and justice for Vanessa Guillen. She served in the U.S. Army at Fort Hood.
After disappearing in April, investigators say she was killed, dismembered, and burned. Another soldier, Aaron Robinson, was set to be arrested in her death before taking his own life.
Robinson’s girlfriend was then arrested on charges of tampering with evidence.