An El Paso protest for George Floyd last week marked the return of the Brown Berets, a group that dates back to the late 1960s.
The Brown Berets of El Chuco, organized the protest in downtown El Paso Tuesday night demanding justice for George Floyd and end to police killings.
“We’re the next generation we’re going to keep the movement strong,” said a man in his early 30s who would only give what he referred to as his native name Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec winged serpent deity.
“It just shows unity, all different colors speaking up,” he said of the group of young demonstrators who protested on the streets of downtown El Paso.
The Chicano civil rights organization was born in Los Angeles in the turbulent 1960s where they organized massive student walkouts to protest educational discrimination in schools. They also fought police brutality.
They are needed again, say Brown Berets who organized the march from Aztec Calendar park to El Paso city hall as a helicopter hovered overhead. They chanted George Floyd’s name and some of his final words, “I can’t breathe “as he died with a Minneapolis police officer’s knee on his neck.
There was a massive law enforcement presence, including police in riot gear, for about 150 protestors. At a much larger protest Sunday night El Paso police fired tear gas and bean bag projectiles to disperse protestors. Some people at that demonstration posted images of injuries they suffered from the projectiles.
Many of the protestors Tuesday night were on edge, like a 15-year-old girl who said she was so afraid she only wanted to give her nickname, Sam.
“My grandmother brought me. She couldn’t stay because she can’t stand for long. But I was dropped off with my friends. I was told to stay safe so I want to stay on the front line as long as I can. Every time I see tension rising, I keep going back to the light post.,” she said.
She, like many of the youngest protestors, were not familiar with the original Brown Berets. “I had never heard of them,” she said.
Kenneth Latimer, a 59-year-old African American man, said he was inspired by the young demonstrators who took to the streets and encouraged them to take the next steps to ensure change by turning out at the polls in November.
“Vote! Let me hear it,” he said via megaphone. And the crowd of protestors chanted “Vote! Vote! Vote!”