The City of Los Angeles has declared today to be Ruben Salazar Day to coincide with the release of the United States Postal Service stamp that commemorates his life and work.
From the People’s Guide to Los Angeles:
Salazar worked for the Los Angeles Times and the Spanish-language television station KMEX, and over time became increasingly critical of the Vietnam War and social injustice. At the time of his death, Salazar was being investigated by both the LAPD and the FBI who opposed his increasingly critical coverage. Salazar was killed on August 29, 1970 while observing the Chicano Moratorium, a protest against the War, drawing approximately 30,000 for a march from Belvedere Park to Laguna Park. As it approached Laguna Park, over 500 police attacked the crowd, resulting in over 200 arrests, hundreds of injuries, and three deaths. The Chicano Moratorium was the largest anti-war action on the part of any ethnic community in the US. Salazar covered the event and afterwards went to the Silver Dollar Café where he was shot by an L.A. County Deputy. The bullet, shot from outside the café, hit Salazar in the head. A Coroner’s Panel ruled the killing a homicide, but the deputy was never brought to trial.
Laguna Park was renamed Salazar Park to honor the murdered journalist. To this day, there are members of the Sheriff’s Department that refuse to recognize the name Salazar Park and refer to the park by it’s old name.
This bit of East Los history is very significant to me personally, as both my parents were at this march. My mother (who was 7mos pregnant) had to out run tear gas and hide in a church after the police attacked the crowd. Last year’s May Day “melee” reminded her of the events back in 1970 – nothing seems to change when it comes to law enforcement. I just hope in 30 years we don’t have a Cristina Gonzalez stamp.
For another perspective on the Chicano Moratorium, check out this piece.