Events Leading up to August 29, 1970

Growing Opposition to the War

Opposition to the Vietnam war by Chicanos increased steadily by the end of 1966 after official government policy was established to increase the number of draftees and recruits who scored lower on tests and grant exemptions to college students. This meant people of color and other poor were sent in larger numbers to the armed services to meet quotas for combat troops in Vietnam.

The escalation of the war with more troops and media coverage led to greater knowledge of the realities of the war. This included knowing about the scorched earth policy of using napalm, Agent Orange, and massacres against people and villages suspected of supporting the Viet Cong. This also increased anti-war protests.

Chicano Movement leaders began consistently speaking against the war in conferences, symposiums, peace rallies, movement newspapers, teatros, and election campaigns.

By 1968 Chicano campus students and other youth organizations like the Brown Berets opposed the war.

Rosalio Muñoz makes a statement to the press, 1969
Rosalio Muñoz makes a statement to the press outside the U.S. Armed Forces Office after he refuses induction and the draft to the Vietnam War, Los Angeles, September 16, 1969.

One of the leaders was former UCLA student body president Rosalio Muñoz who refused induction into the military in Los Angeles on September 16, 1969. A large picket line was organized by Munoz and artist/organizer Ramses Noriega protesting discrimination in the draft and other forms of prejudice that led to higher casualty rates for Chicanos.  They called for increasing Chicano activism against the war.

Muñoz’s action added to the momentum of Chicano participation in the anti-war movement and mobilizing of anti-war activities in Chicano barrios. The first Chicano Moratorium march was in East Los Angeles on December 20, 1969, Initiated by the Brown Berets. More followed in other cities.

The breadth and depth of the moratoriums, including the Chicano Moratoriums in barrios across the Southwest, were later called the Vietnam Syndrome, where the American people stopped supporting the war and opposed it. A movement of veterans against the war grew into a movement of active troops who showed their opposition to the war by refusing orders to fight, deserting, and sometimes killing their officers. Also, depression, PTSD, alcohol, and drug addiction afflicted the troops.

To suppress the anti-war fervor, the government and local police-initiated surveillance, undercover agents, provocateurs, informants, and other assets. Such activities were exposed in 1971  when FBI documents were stolen, more in the Pentagon Papers published in 1971, and then the Watergate events that began in 1972.  In January 1973, the U.S. announced it was pulling out the troops.

Events Leading up to August 29, 1970