[Ppnews] Carlos Montes - A voice for change - the 60s, the civil rights movement and today

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 16 10:37:40 EDT 2011



A voice for change - the 60s, the civil rights movement and today

http://www.alhambrasource.org/stories/voice-change-60s-civil-rights-movement-and-today
by 
<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 
Sheriff’s department 
<http://www.alhambrasource.org/news/chicano-activist-and-alhambra-resident-arrested-firearms-possession>executed 
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 FBI’s 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. We’d 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?

We’ve made some gains, but it looks like recently 
we’ve 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. 
We’ve gotten a lot of that, but still have the 
issue that public education is underfunded. It’s 
under attack by those who want to privatize it. 
And there’s also the dropout rates, and the wide 
achievement gaps. The Mexican-American youths, 
the Latino youths, and the Chicano youths – 
they’re still behind in reading and math. And 
with college admissions
well, back then it was 
even worse. I mean we weren’t 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.

It’s absolutely true. There’s 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 there’s Facebook and 
Myspace. The youths and organizers using Facebook 
and email have been able to get more people 
involved, and faster. Back then we didn’t 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. That’s 
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 we’re 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 don’t. I don’t feel safe in my home. They 
came at five in the morning and busted down my 
door. Some of my neighbors­and they’re 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.




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