History

 

YOUNG LORDS HISTORICAL TIME LINE ( Dates approximate to relevant time line )

 

1945-1950

WWII ends and and massive unemployment forces Puerto Rican Jibaros to immigrateas “Tomateros” or tomato pickers to U.S. migrant camps.

Fomento replaces sugarcane industry and other agriculture with industry and tourism in Puerto Rico.

U.S. and Mexico are in conflict with immigration concerns, related to Bracero program.

“Tomateros” continue to move from Puerto Rico, east coast cities and migrant camps: into steel mills near Chicago; factories; as downtown housing maids; and hotel jobs.

Luis Munoz Marin begins campaigning and becomes first popularly elected Puerto Rican Governor.

1950-1955

Luis Munoz Marin pushes for a neo-colonial type of Commonwealth Status, acceptable to the U.S. interests and promotes more massive immigration to the U.S. hoping to alleviate 60% unemployment in Puerto Rico.

Massive migration increases, and in Chicago, the first Puerto Rican barrios or communities: La Madison and La Clark are formed. La Madison( Halsted to Kedzie via Madison, with pockets from Roosevelt to Chicago Ave.) and La Clark (Ohio to Armitage via State, Clark, La Salle, Wells, Halsted, including pockets near and buildings within the Cabrini Green housing complexes)

1955-1960

The construction of the Carl Sandburg Village and the University of Illinois Circle Campus destroys completely the Puerto Rican communities of La Madison and La Clark, displacing tens of thousands of (census undocumented and politically powerless) Puerto Ricans and other poor.

Lincoln Park and Wicker Park now are transformed rapidly from white ethnic minority into primarily, Puerto Rican neighborhoods.

The Caballeros de San Juan and Damas de Maria form church councils or concilios, in numerous churches through out Chicago, starting at a Latino enclave in Woodlawn and including Puerto Rican enclaves in Lakeview, Uptown, La Madison, La Clark; and now within in the two main barrios of Wicker Park-West Town-Humboldt Park(La Division) and Lincoln Park (including La North Ave. and La Armitage).

1960-1965

Poverty, lack of supervised youth programs and the destabilization of Latino neighborhood support networks, via city sponsored urban renewal displacement, turns Y.M.C.A. youth athletic clubs, into hard core street gangs. White flight also uproots the ethnics from Lincoln Park and La Division and leaves behind blighted, unstable neighborhoods, ruled by absentee “politicos” and absentee landlords

1966

Right after the first Puerto Rican parade, organized first as El Dia de San Juan, by the Caballeros de San Juan and Damas de Maria at St. Michael’s Church in Lincoln Park; Puerto Ricans riot over a police shooting of an unarmed youth, at Damen and Division Streets, in La Division.

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YOUNG LORDS ORIGINS

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September 23rd 1968

Reorganized by the Founder/Chairman Jose (Cha-Cha) Jimenez, the Young Lords are restructured into a human rights movement for self determination for Puerto Rico and other nations, and for neighborhood controlled development and empowerment. Young Lords take over a Community Conservation Council Meeting and completely thrash the Department of Urban Renewal Office.

Local mafia owned real estate offices on Armitage Avenue are picketed by the Young Lords, while one real estate owner points a submachine gun at protesters, and while policemen observe and make no arrests.

All windows of Anglo businesses on Armitage Ave., between Larabee and Sheffield streets are busted and boarded up, in a preplanned riot, organized by Young Lords; and including members, from all the gangs in Lincoln Park.

January,1969

Young Lords begin setting up a formal organizational structure, patterned after the Black Panther Party’s ministerial structure. They conduct political education classes in homes.

Young Lords, Lado, Black Panthers, caseworkers and other activists together hold a sit in at the Wicker Park Public Aid office, to demand dignified treatment for clients; and a union for the employees.

Corky Gonzalez, Reis Lopez Tijerina, Cesar Chavez, Brown Berets, Black Berets and Black Panther films and literature are shown for the first time to the Young Lords and
the community of Lincoln Park.

200 persons picket Commander Brasch and the 18th District Police Station after the arrest of Cha-Cha Jimenez for Disorderly Conduct and Mob Action, resulting from the Urban

Renewal office destruction. He is forced to be released on his own Personal Recognizance Bond.

Young Lords take two busloads to Corky Gonzalez’s Crusade for Justice Conference on Youth, in Denver, Colorado.

Demonstration at Wicker Park Welfare Office leads to the arrests of Chairman Fred Hampton, of the Black Panthers and Young Lord, Jose (Cha-Cha) Jimenez.

Cha-Cha Jimenez is indicted by Hanrahan’s grand jury 18 times within a six week period. Charges range from alleged possession of marijuana, to aggravated battery against
police and numerous mob actions.

Ralph Rivera and Cha-Cha Jimenez design “Tengo Puerto Rico en mi corazon” button, which becomes symbol or logo of the Young Lords.

Young Lords take over the 18th District Chicago Avenue Police Workshop Meeting, held inside the police station. They inform a jam pack audience that the Young Lords and their programs have been instituted to protect and serve the community; and that the police have harassed and perpetrated violence against Lincoln Park residents.

Meetings begin with Armitage Avenue Methodist Church for space for more Young Lord’s programs; a free daily, “Breakfast for Children” program, Emeterio Betances Free Health Clinic, Puerto Rican Cultural Center and a free Community Day Care Coop.

Young Lords march with 10,000 persons, several miles; from Halsted and Armitage through La Division and into Humboldt Park to honor Don Pedro Albizu Campos and the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.

Cha-Cha Jimenez is in the audience at the University of Puerto Rico, that is rendering an homage to Puerto Rican singer Daniel Santos who asks him to say a few words, about the
Young Lords.

The same day the Puerto Rican students, protesting Puerto Ricans being forced to fight in Vietnam, burn down the ROTC building on campus.

Chairman Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party asks Bill ( Preacherman) Fesperman of the Young Patriots and Jose (Cha-Cha) Jimenez of the Young Lords to join together, in forming the Rainbow Coalition. They go on a joint speaking tour to promote the coalition.

The initial organizing work predating the coalition was carried out, on behalf of the Black Panther Party, in Uptown and in Lincoln Park, Chicago by Black Panther Party members, Field Marshall Bobby Lee and his staff.

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TAKE-OVER OF INSTITUTIONS

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Young Lords and 350 primarily, Latino community residents, take over and sit-in at the McCormick Theological Seminary administration building for one full week, until their
demands are completely met:

– $650,000 to be invested in low income housing in Lincoln Park

– $25,000 to open another free clinic, to be run by Lado for La Division (Wicker Park-West Town-Humboldt Park)

– $25,000 to open up the People’s Law Office in Lincoln Park

– $25,000 committed (but never received) for a Puerto Rican Cultural Center within People’s Church

Mayor Daley, States Attorney Edward Hanrahan, Superintendent of Schools, James Redman, Police Superintendent, James Conlisk and Human Resource Director Defon Brooks, in a highly publicized press conference, called for a “War on Gangs.” They specifically name the Black Panthers, Young Patriots and Young Lords along with some established street gangs like: Black Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings, Latin Disciples and Black Stone Rangers, as their targets.

Manuel Ramos is shot in his face, outside of Orlando Davila’s (founder in 1959,with Cha-Cha and 5 others, of the Young Lords street gang) birthday party, by off duty policeman
James Lamb. Four Young Lords, the Cuatro Lords, are arrested after making a citizen’s arrest for aggravated battery, against James Lamb. Charges against the Young Lords were later dropped. James Lamb was never charged nor reprimanded for shooting and killing and unarmed Latino, Manuel Ramos.

1000 community persons join the Young Lords, dressed in black with purple berets and their buttons at St. Teresa’s Catholic Church, for a funeral procession for Manuel Ramos. In front of the procession are about 100 members of the Horseman Motorcycle Club; led by David Rivera, Young Lord field marshal and also the Horseman president. Prominent Puerto

Rican leaders also side with Young Lords against police abuse, related to the Manuel Ramos death.

Young Lords take-over Armitage Avenue United Methodist Church (led by Mexican-American, Luis Chavez and others)and later the congregation renames the church, People’s Church.

Felicitas Nunez, also of proud Mexican heritage, paints murals of Adelita, Emiliano Zapata, Lolita Lebron, Don Pedro Albizu Campos and the National Young Lords Logo (reading,

“Tengo Puerto Rico En Mi Corazon”) on the outside church walls. The Young Lords set up the Emeterio Betances Free Health Clinic, a Puerto Rican cultural center, a free
community day care coop, a free Breakfast for Children Program and their national headquarters offices.

Urban renewal land to be used for a $1000 a year tennis court club is seized to prevent its construction. This site was once, several four story structures connected together, that housed about 35 Puerto Rican families. Over four hundred persons camp out for one week in a tent city, from Armitage to Dickens on Halsted Street, until the tennis club (later constructed at Fullerton and Damen streets in Wicker Park) removed its bid. Later, the Young Lords and the community convert the land into a People’s Park and playground equipment is constructed or donated by local merchants.

Young Lords donate and urge others to donate blood for a near death Puerto Rican businessman, after his family seeks help at People’s church. Young Lords march to Humbolt Park with over 10,000 persons, many in purple berets and carrying Puerto Rican flags and posters of Manuel Ramos and Don Pedro Albizu Campos. An east coast regional chapter of the

Young Lords is opened up in New York City, while this People’s grassroots movement, begins to sprout up on its own in various cities, nationally.

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BUILDING SOLIDARITY

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Young Lords are asked by Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton and the Illinois Black Panthers to help mobilize demonstrators to protest at the downtown Chicago federal building, during the Chicago Conspiracy Trial, in support of Chairman Bobby Seale.

Young Lords visit California and other west coast cities to hold various meetings, in order to strengthen unity with several organizations, including: the Black Panthers, S.D.S., new left groups, Crusade for Justice, Black Berets, Alurista and the Aztlan Movement and the Brown Berets.

Chapter of the Young Lords opens up in Hayward, California.

Young Lords march in solidarity with the (I.W.W) International Workers of the World in Chicago.

Several Young Lords from Chicago travel with Cha-Cha Jimenez and Manuel Robago of the Nationalist Party, to march at the annual Grito de Lares demonstration in Jayuya, Puerto Rico The Catholic Caballeros de San Juan and Damas de Maria are urged by Don Jesus Rodriguez; and they vote unanimously to volunteer and support the Young Lords and their neighborhood programs.

The Puerto Rican Catholic bishop, Antulio Parrilla travels to Chicago and visits the Young Lord’s People’s Church. He then celebrates a public mass for the Young Lords at a Catholic Church in West Town.

Young Lords visit Alcatraz during an Indigenous People’s take over, led by Native American Richard Oakes. The Young Lords witnessed Richard Oakes’ new born baby, allegedly being dropped accidentally from a ferry, and drowning in San Francisco bay.

The Emeterio Betances Free Health Clinic screens people in Lincoln Park ,door to door for lead poisoning.

Young Lords Communications Secretary Angela Adorno meets with Vietnamese Women at a Canada conference.

Young Lords organize the Lincoln Park Poor People’s Coalition, hire architect Howard Allen and draw up plans for a low income housing development, at Larrabee and Armitage Streets. It is endorsed by the community, a coalition of churches, renown architect, Buckminster Fuller and the former head of the Department of Urban Renewal, Ira Bach. However, it was still rejected by Mayor Daley’s housing committee of the city council. They claimed that the Lincoln Park Poor People’s Coalition lacked experience in housing construction.

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REPRESSION OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT

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Gang Intelligence Unit and the Chicago Red Squad station a police car, parked 24 hours a day, photographing anyone entering or leaving the Young Lords People’s Church ( later it was also discovered that “Cointelpro” among other acts was also involved in inciting riots at demonstrations, infiltration, door to door rumor or discreditation campaigns and creating divisions within the new left, Latino and African American movements.

Police harass visitors and attempt to incite a riot in People’s Park. While attempting to calm the crowd, several Young Lords are arrested and charged with mob action.

UPTIGD (United People to Inform Good Doers) is formed by Alderman McCutheon to collect data; including going through the Young Lord’s People’s Church garbage cans. This information is then prepared into letters and flyers to discredit the Young Lords leadership and to remove pastor of People’s Church, Rev. Bruce Johnson. The flyers are passed at suburban Methodist Churches and the letters are sent to the bishop of the United Methodists Church, asking him to remove Rev. Bruce Johnson and the Young Lords from People’s Church.

Alderman McCutheon’s press conference is taken over by Young Lords. The media is reminded by Young Lords that the Alderman had been arrested for soliciting prostitutes in Old Town, is harassing Young Lords with UPTIGD and is part of the old Alderman Paddy Bauer’s organization, well known for their mafia ties.

Cha-Cha Jimenez and Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton are arrested together, for an alleged assault and battery on police, at the Wicker Park Welfare Office. Obed Lopez is brutally beaten up by police. Rev. Maria de Lourdes Porrata is also assaulted by a welfare caseworker.

New York Young Lords regional office informs Chicago that they would like to split and work on their own. In an effort to maintain solidarity and a united Puerto Rican Independence movement, national headquarters recognizes that some of New York’s concerns, regarding discipline and lack of professionalism are truly legitimate. The original Young Lords did develop in Chicago from a street gang. There were many students and others involved but the leadership was grassroots. “Now, these high school drop outs were just beginning to transform their lives through activism. Mayor Daley was also not as liberal as Mayor Lindsey and the police repression in Chicago was ruthless, without regard to law. The leadership in New York City had originally developed from primarily student organizations and had not yet experienced the type of repression leeched out by Chicago’s patronage machine. This would eventually come later for them. There was also, in Mayor Daley’s Chicago, a complete blacklisting regarding funding of anything related to the Young Lords, who were constantly attacking the mayor’s urban renewal plans and his leadership. Therefore, no monies, infiltration by police agents, arrests on its leadership, minimal communication, lack of professional skills in Chicago, growing pains and U.S. regional prides, contributed to. the Young Lords split. It probably also contributed to the splits within several other prominent movement groups. The Young Lords leadership, in New York and other cities nationally, is always greatly appreciated by National in Chicago. They truly are unselfish and committed role models. The times and conditions are just different in both cities but both cities and memberships are needed to go forward in a true People’s led movement, for Puerto Rican self determination and community empowerment. Both cities together represent the diasporas and over half of the Puerto Rican population in the world. The Young Lords representatives who attended the meeting embraced and all agreed to work together, as revolutionary companeros. The rest is a combined Young Lord and Latino history.

Jose (Pancho Lind ) is killed with baseball bats by an all white street gang. One of the killers is the brother of one of the first policemen at the scene. Important evidence is compromised and no one is ever convicted, even though there are court filled rooms and plenty of protest marches outside the court house.

Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton is set up and drugged by police informant William O’Neal and murdered in a predawn raid organized by State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, and a special police team.

Pastor of Young Lords People’s Church, the Methodist Rev. Bruce Johnson is found by a postal worker, stabbed 17 times and his wife, Eugenia stabbed 9 times. The Young Lords opened up the Church and cooperated but the case has never been solved, nor investigated fully by the police.

After pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and receiving a one year sentence for the infamous $23 lumber case, Cha-Cha Jimenez requests personal time from the court, prior to being jailed, and goes underground. An underground training school is set up to train Young Lords leadership, to take over the organization.

Two and a half years after the Young Lords go underground as a group, Cha-Cha Jimenez agrees to turn himself in to begin serving the one year sentence and fight the ten remaining felony charges.

Young Lords and 500 supporters greet Cha-Cha Jimenez, exactly three years after the murder of Fred Hampton, on December 4th 1972, in front of the Town Hall District police station.

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PROTRACTED STRUGGLE

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The Young Lords, led now by Angie (Navedo) Adorno( because Cha-Cha Jimenez was incarcerated) posted a $75,000 cash bond for the ten remaining felony charges and Cha-Cha Jimenez was released. Soon after his release, the Intercommunal Survival Front led by Walter (Slim ) Coleman, the local United Farm Workers led by Marcos Munoz, American Indian Movement and some remaining members of the Black Panthers (others were disbanded or in Oakland for concentration and training and/or to work on Bobby Seale’s mayoral campaign) joined the Young Lords, for a press conference announcing the Jose (Cha-Cha) Jimenez bid for 46th ward alderman.

The Young Lords came in second and garnered 39% of the votes, in an area now being gentrified, with only 1000 Latino registered voters.

Right after the Aldermanic Campaign, the Puerto Rican FALN group is arrested in Evanston, IL. The same week Cha-Cha Jimenez is also arrested and charged with an alleged kidnapping of a United States Census supervisor, in support of the arrested FALN freedom fighters. He demands trial, since there was no kidnapping; and constitutionally anyone has a right to support any cause within the United States. After misplaced records and after nine months in Cook County Jail, awaiting trial; Cha-Cha Jimenez is released, when time expires on the four month speedy trial law. There are no witnesses or accusers voluntarily brought into court, by the State’s Attorneys Office.

Young Lords, including a new generation of Young Lords (to avoid being labeled as a gang) work under the name of the Puerto Rican Diaspora Coalition, and become the first Latino
group to hold a public rally, for the mayoral campaign of Harold Washington.

Right after the victorious election of Harold Washington, the Young Lords organize together with the Puerto Rican Parade Committee of Chicago and the new mayor’s Office of special Events and Cha-Cha Jimenez introduces Harold Washington, before a crowd of 100,000 Puerto Ricans in Humboldt Park.

In the fall of 1995,Young Lords’ Tony Baez from Milwaukee, Omar Lopez, Carlos Flores, Angel Del Rivero and Angie Adorno are brought together by Cha-Cha Jimenez, to form the Lincoln Park Project, which will begin to archive and document Young Lord history and the history of the complete displacement of Puerto Ricans, Latinos and the poor of Lincoln Park. They approach DePaul University and begin working closely with Dr. Felix Masud Piloto and the Center for Latino Research. A collection is being housed at DePaul’s Richardson’s Library.

The Young Lords show support for the protesters at Vieques, Puerto Rico and also to continue the fight for stable neighborhoods and to end Latino and poor People displacement, by celebrating Puerto Rican Independence Day or El Grito de Lares, with the opening of Lincoln Park Camp, near Grand Rapids, MI. This becomes an annual event for supporters.

April 2007, DePaul University’s Center for Latino Research organizes an International Conference, and Jacqui Lazu premiere’s her play: The Block-El Bloque, A Young Lords Story.

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