“I could be one of the ones that was taken out.”
Ricky Gonzales, Albuquerque native and Prime Minister of the Nuevo Mexico Chapter of the Carnalismo Brown Berets, reflected on an experience he had with the Albuquerque Police Department 5 years ago. In his case, it was mistaken identity.
Ricky was at a friend’s apartment when he saw that APD was outside preparing for a raid. “I want to see what happens. I walked out of [the friend’s] apartment. I had assault rifles, lasers and SWAT guns pointed at my chest. I’m carrying a phone charger in my hand, it’s night, it could be mistaken for anything. So, luckily, nothing happened…but it could have gone a completely different way.”
The Brown Berets are a Chicano/Mexican American community organization that was born during the late 1960s and is still active. Their mission is to help those who are oppressed and need a voice.
The Brown Berets, including Ricky, were at the June 21 March Against Police Brutality in Albuquerque to assist with security and show solidarity. They do a lot more than provide security, though. “I like to think of the Brown Berets as a multilateral organization,” says Ricky. They do outreach to gangs, food drives, and toy drives for children born in prison. The Brown Berets do this without much of a budget, Ricky says, “We just fund things ourselves and invest sweat equity”.
According to Ricky, re-education is a major initiative of the Brown Berets. “A lot of our work has to do with re-educating ourselves and others. A lot of us Chicanos were raised with a certain version [of history], not necessarily where we really came from or what really happened. [Being born on] this side of the border and being American and not Mexican [is an accident of birth]. Chicano people here in Albuquerque exempt themselves from the fight of people south of the border – an imaginary line. A lot of [our work] is about re-educating these [Chicanos] to know we’re all the same.”