Students faced intense brutality and surveillance by police in their demand for racial equality. Since the 1965 Watts Rebellion, Los Angeles police were trained to suppress the mass mobilization of students by arresting youth, community members and journalists. Some youth were physically beaten without mercy.


Local police also employed undercover surveillance tactics under the direction of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). These undercover officers facilitated the arrest of the East LA 13 on conspiracy charges for disturbing the peace. At least seven of those arrested were leaders in The Brown Berets, an East LA-based social justice organization who defended marching students by shielding them from police.


The violent police responses to peaceful protests for social justice in Boyle Heights politicized the community and advanced the fight against police brutality to the center of their social justice agenda.

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The Brown Berets are a pro-Chicano organization that emerged during the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s founded by David Sanchez and remains active to the present day. The group was seen as part of the Third Movement for Liberation. The Brown Berets' movements largely revolved around farm worker’s struggles, educational reform, and anti-war activism; they have also organized against police brutality.
Using their uniforms to express “Brown Pride,” the “Brown Berets” were young Chicano and Chicana activists who, like the Black Panthers, focused on issues such as unemployment, housing, food, and education. In order to call attention to the unequal educational system in East Los Angeles, the Brown Berets organized “blowouts,” where hundreds of Eastside Mexican American public schools students walked out of class the first week of March in protest of the inferior educational conditions in the school system.

The scrutiny faced during this time was tough for those involved but ultimately created a movement that would be studied and eventually replicated many times over. Click below to see the present and future of walkouts.

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2102 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033

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