A group of nationalist activists from California participated in an event on Saturday in protest of Chicano Park, a Mexican-American monument in San Diego, Calif., considered the heart of the local Latin American community. They claimed the park is "anti-American."
Local organizations and activists called for a “Patriot Picnic 2.0," as they claim the “patriotic” group intends to destroy its murals and statues.
Activists led by Roger Ogden, administrator of the Facebook Page Patriot Fire, organized both the “Patriot Picnics” as political events in which the U.S. flag would be raised in Chicano Park. He claimed their only intention was to have a peaceful picnic in the park to prove "real patriot Americans" weren't allowed in the park.
The first picnic took place in October, but local activists organized collectively via social media to drive them away. They were escorted outside by police in a peaceful way.
For the second event, Barrio Logan residents and other local activists organized the Chicano Park Autodefensa, calling for sympathizers to support the park and its historic multicultural roots. This time, the Patriot Picnic couldn't take place and its 25 participants, whom they call "white supremacists," were driven away by a crowd of hundreds of people who came out to defend their park.
Park critics were carrying pizzas and U.S. flags. Some of them were dressed in military fashion, wearing hats and shirts in support of U.S. President Donald Trump. | Photo: Erik Herrera
Even though both groups were yelling at each other, things ran peacefully until police asked the Patriotic Picnic group to leave. A video posted on Facebook shows a police group arresting a man after he punched a policeman in the face, staining the floor with his blood. Three people were arrested. A fourth man was freed after he was found urinating in front of a mural.
No arrests were made on the Chicano Park Autodefensa side, but one of them was pepper-sprayed in the face.
“Autodefensa means the people's police and when these Neo-Nazis and 'American Patriots' came throwing up White Power signs, our people and allies from all over the United States showed up to help defend us,” Alexis del Castillo, an activist and one of the Chicano Park organizers, told teleSUR.
"Today, we showed to not only him but the world why us as a people shall be respected and treated as a strong political force.”
Chicano Park is a historical site located in Barrio Logan, a neighborhood in San Diego, and is the product of a Mexican-American social movement that began in the late 1970s, after local residents organized to block the construction of a California Highway Patrol in place of the promised park.
The park was designated a "historical monument" in 2017 and it features murals from Mexican and Latin American artists and social leaders, such as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Frida Kahlo, Francisco Villa and other revolutionaries. It also includes Aztec and other Native American imagery, painted by Barrio Logan's residents themselves. A statue of Emiliano Zapata, one of the most emblematic symbols of resistance from the Mexican revolution, also stands in the park.
Ogden and his sympathizers claim the park's murals and the Zapata statue are "anti-American," as they claim “Chicanoism” promotes a "violent" ideology and the murals depict "enemies" of the United States.