The Brown Berets held a National Day of Action across the country on Sept. 28. Events were held from Fresno and Sacramento in California to Chicago, Oklahoma City, Houston and El Paso.
The focus was white supremacy and solidarity with the families who lost loved ones in the racist killings in El Paso. In each city the seven key points of unity agreed to last summer by La National Mesa de los Brown Berets were read aloud. (See end of article.)
Here in Houston, as the march passed stores and gas stations, chants rang out of “Viva la Raza!” and “Viva Zapata!” People on the streets responded with raised fists: “Que viva!”
Cynthia Rivera read: “Brown Berets, leftist allies and members of our communities have had enough. … We must unite! The Indigenous people of this land, regardless of what the United States labels us, must come together and fight for our children who today sit in cages. We must fight for our families who today are being ripped apart, fight for our children who today are being shot, not just by white supremacists but by police officers. … It is time to fight back! Ya basta!”
Moving testimony was given by Janie Torres, the younger sister of Jose Campos Torres, who was beaten senseless by Houston cops in 1976 on Cinco de Mayo and thrown into a bayou to die. “Let’s see if the wetback can swim,” the cops said.
Revolutionary poetry by Torres’ nephew, Johnny Torres, was warmly welcomed. One poem was based on the Mexican legend of La Llorana, a mother who out of desperation drowned her children and then spent the rest of her life crying and looking for them.
“This is for every Indigenous mother who has lost her child in the crossfire of this war. Our mothers never sleep, they still roam the night, looking for their missing children. … They can’t fight this war alone. The president terrorist damaged all the mothers’ hearts with one stone. Some people don’t ask about the lost children, but La Llorona does.”
Greetings of solidarity were given by Chiwo Luzolo of the African People’s Socialist Party. Members of the Nation of Islam, the Museo Guadalupe Aztlan and Workers World Party were in attendance.
The names of each person murdered in the El Paso Walmart on Aug. 3 were read, followed by a moment of silence. The rally ended with Milin Andy Cuetzpalin drumming and singing an Indigenous Mexican song asking for strength and protection.
The points of unity of the Brown Berets include:
- “Armed self-defense if necessary to protect our families, our children and our communities from white supremacists.”
- “Education — We are advocating for a real education that teaches the children who they truly are and how enriching their history is. How this is stolen land! How people from Europe invaded this land. How this land was chopped up and sold through a capitalist system and how today the U.S. imperialist nation continues to profit from our labor, our incarceration and even our death because we do NOT have an educational system that is teaching the truth!”
- “Culture — We should not be ashamed of our communities, languages, food, music and artistic impressions. We encourage our communities to express themselves and tell the true story of the Chicana and Chicano community.”
- “Economics — Under capitalism our people have been subjugated and exploited for hundreds of years while serving the white ruling class whose luxuries were bought with our blood. We must establish a new sustainable economic system that serves the needs of the people and not the desires of a handful of rich people sitting on their hoard of stolen treasure.”
- “Spiritual — We believe in the spiritual ways and practices of our indigenous ancestors. We must boycott and protest leaders of the faith community that support white supremacist policies and the attacks on our people, whether documented or not. This includes support for our LGBTQ+ communities whom for decades have been the target of religious bigots. Ya Basta!”
- “Science/Environmentalism — Mother Earth is under attack. Climate change is real! We believe that unless we play an active role, we as humans will be destroyed. Ya Basta!”
- “Electoral power — Politicians who wish to deny us the rights they are so proud to hold, who still steal from us, and who seek to deny us our humanity must be held accountable for their hypocrisy and inhumanity. If nothing is done, then there is only one solution. REVOLUTION! We have had many great revolutionaries throughout our history. And to quote from Emiliano Zapata, ‘If there is not justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government.’ We call on our allies, from Brown Berets nationwide, to other leftists to unite, organize, and mobilize our gente, to join us in this struggle because we are all in this together.”