Analysis

Celebrating Chicano Park’s 50 years of resistance

Members of San Diego PSL at a Chicano Park food share in 2018.
Members of San Diego PSL at a Chicano Park food share in 2018.

On April 22, 1970, the residents of Barrio Logan seized land near the I-5 freeway. Local authorities had designated the lot for a California Highway Patrol substation. This was unacceptable to the people, who saw it as yet another extension of colonialism. After all, the city promised to build a public park–not more oppressive policing structures.

The community occupied the plot for 10 days and won a great victory. Over the past 50 years, Chicano Park has been a symbol of revolutionary optimism and self-determination for San Diego and the Chicanx community.

Resilience of the Barrio Logan community

Barrio Logan’s resistance to white supremacy has escalated since Donald Trump’s election. On Sept. 3, 2017, over 500 of community members came out to Chicano Park defend the beautiful murals depicting revolutionaries, indigenous leaders, and religious figures. This was in response to threats of attack by fascists, who were eventually outnumbered 100 to 1.

Exactly five months later around 6o members of a white supremacist organization (Bordertown Patriots) planned another attack on the park. The white supremacists were met by nearly a thousand community members who came out to defend the park. These failed attacks have been referred to locally as “Patriot Picnics.”

Police oppression at Chicano Park

It was just a block away from the Feb. 3 where Frederick Jefferson was brutally arrested, despite having no involvement in the protests. He was simply walking across Logan Avenue. Jefferson, a Navy veteran, was sentenced to 7 years in prison on false charges and later died in police custody.

The annual May Day protest in 2019, which is organized by Unión del Barrio, also prompted the presence of white supremacists. Identifying as Proud Boys, they physically attacked members of Brown Berets de Aztlán, Unión del Barrio, Party for Socialism and Liberation and others with physical support from local police. The cops then threatened to arrest members of the May Day security team, but soon retreated.

On June 27, 2019, Georgina Mercado was arrested while filming a police interaction. Eddie Alvarez, who arrived to watch Georgina’s children for her, was brutally beaten and arrested as well. Both are organizers and leaders within the community. The political character of police violence at Chicano Park cannot be ignored.

¡Zapata vive!

In the middle of Chicano Park there is a statue of the great General Emiliano Zapata. He was an indigenous peasant and leader of the Mexican Revolution. The once concrete gray pillars are colored with murals of inspirational Latin American revolutionaries such as Zapata, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Frida Kahlo.

Chicano Park is emblematic of local and international anti-imperialist resistance. San Diego PSL is proud to support and participate in the ongoing struggle for Chicano liberation and self-determination.

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