[Ppnews] Carlos Montes - A voice for change - the 60s, the civil rights movement and today
Political Prisoner News
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Thu Jun 16 10:37:40 EDT 2011
A voice for change - the 60s, the civil rights movement and today
<http://www.alhambrasource.org/users/timloc1986>Tim Loc, Staff, June 16, 2011
Activist Carlos Montes, a familiar face in the
1960s Chicano Movement, moved to Alhambra 20
years ago because he saw it as a peaceful enclave
that was close to his homebase of East Los
Angeles. He had a rude awakening on May 17 when
the FBI and deputies from the Los Angeles
a search warrant on his home. He was arrested
after the search turned up a firearm. Montes
speaks to The Alhambra Source on his history with
activism, and what he alleges is the FBIs agenda
of targeting activists like him.
You were a co-founder of the Brown Berets. How did it begin?
It started as a civic youth group. It became the
Young Chicanos for Community Action, and then it
got more involved in direct grassroots
organizing. Then it became the Brown Berets, and
we dealt with the issues of education and police
brutality. It started small, but once it took on
a broader view of the political situation it grew
really fast. It became part of the movement of
the 60s. I grew up in East LA, so I saw the
police mistreating the youth. Wed cruise down
Whittier Boulevard with the music on in the car
and we would be harassed by the sheriffs. And in
the schools the students were mistreated and the classes were overcrowded.
Protest against US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Protest against US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
You were among the leaders of the school walkouts
in 68. When you look at the quality of education
today, in particular for Hispanic and Latino
students, do you think anything has changed?
Weve made some gains, but it looks like recently
weve been losing ground. The original demands of
the walkouts was that we wanted ethnic studies
and bilingual education. We wanted teachers and
administrators that reflected our backgrounds.
Weve gotten a lot of that, but still have the
issue that public education is underfunded. Its
under attack by those who want to privatize it.
And theres also the dropout rates, and the wide
achievement gaps. The Mexican-American youths,
the Latino youths, and the Chicano youths
theyre still behind in reading and math. And
with college admissions
well, back then it was
even worse. I mean we werent even going to
college. We were being channeled into certain trades and into the military.
Activism must be so different these days. People
have so much more access to information.
Its absolutely true. Theres more information. I
can only remember one book from back then that
dealt with our history Carey McWilliams North
From Mexico. Now we have hundreds of books,
magazines and websites. And theres Facebook and
Myspace. The youths and organizers using Facebook
and email have been able to get more people
involved, and faster. Back then we didnt have
cell-phones [laughs]. We organized by getting
into a car and driving to each community. But you
know what, the best organizing is done face-to-face.
The <http://www.stopfbi.net/>Committee to Stop
FBI Repression alleges that search warrants have
been executed for you and similar activists. What led to this?
The motive is political persecution. Twenty-plus
activists, back in September, had their homes
raided by the FBI. They had their computers and
documents confiscated. It dealt with their
involvement with Palestine and Columbia. And of
course they all refused and got lawyers and
organized the committee. I was listed in one of
the search warrants that was presented at a raid
at the anti-war committee in Minneapolis. Thats
how I got hooked into this thing.
How does Palestine and Columbia figure into this?
Activists were openly denouncing US policies,
starting with Iraq and Afghanistan. We also
looked at the US support for Israel and its
treatment of the Palestinian people. One of the
groups we formed it was in Chicago was called
the Palestine Solidarity Group. It organizes
tours for people to go to Palestine and come back
to the US to speak about it in forums and
newspapers. I myself went to Columbia and did the
same thing. I met with human rights activists and
labor activists. When I came back to LA I
organized several forums. We denounced the US
policy of specifically in Columbia supporting
what they call Plan Columbia, where they give a
billion dollars a year to the Columbian
government under the guise of fighting the drug
war. In reality, however, the money is going to
the Columbian military, which is using it to
fight its own people. Human rights activists are
being kidnapped and assassinated.
The FBI is using the pretext of our solidarity
work in Palestine or Columbia to persecute us.
They say were providing material support for terrorist organizations.
Most residents probably see Alhambra as a
peaceful community. Do you feel safe in Alhambra after your incident?
No I dont. I dont feel safe in my home. They
came at five in the morning and busted down my
door. Some of my neighborsand theyre all really
friendlythey give me funny looks now [laughs].
They saw this whole thing and their neighborhood was disrupted.
Montes' first court appearance will be at the
Alhambra Courthouse today. A protest of his
arrest is expected to be held outside the courthouse.
Interview was edited and condensed.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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