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Marchers in East L.A. Oppose War

Peaceful protest draws hundreds. 'Recruit us for college, not for war,' students chant.

March 10, 2003|Daniel Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

Led by a troupe of Aztec dancers in feathered headdresses, several hundred antiwar marchers gathered Sunday morning in East Los Angeles to protest the prospect of war with Iraq.

Chanting "recruit us for college, not for war!" the demonstrators included hundreds of college and high school students, senior citizens and families, and they elicited honks from passing cars as they marched two miles from Atlantic Boulevard to Salazar Park.

Organizers said the demonstration, the second antiwar rally in East L.A. this year, was intended to echo the 1970 Chicano Moratorium, the historic mass rally at Salazar Park of Latino student activists against the Vietnam War that ended in arrests and bloodshed. But the numbers Sunday were far fewer than the thousands who turned out for the August 1970 rally.

And though the protesters Sunday shouted antiwar messages in English and Spanish, their gathering was peaceful with an almost festive air, attracting some men and women who had marched in 1970 as students.

"Symbolically, this is a very important march for us," said Jorge Mariscal, an East L.A. native and Chicano studies instructor at UC San Diego. "It exposes our young people to what we did during the Vietnam period, and it exposes our history of opposition to unfair wars."

The event was organized by activists who formed an East Los Angeles-based group called "Latinos Against a War in Iraq" and several small labor unions.

Demonstrators said a U.S.-led war against Iraq would divert resources from education, and social services needed by the Latino population and other minority groups. Innocent Iraqi civilians would be killed unjustly, they said.

"We're here to see if this war could in any way be prevented, if it's possible," said Felipa Ruiz, a 49-year-old who attended the rally with her 14-year-old son. The sign she carried read: "Education Yes, War No," in Spanish.

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