JOSE (CHA-CHA) JIMENEZ
Founded Young Lords as Human Rights Movement: 9/23/68
1 EARLY YEARS
2 YOUNG LORDS FOLD
3 HUMAN RIGHTS
4 COMMUNITY ORGANIZING
5 ORIGINAL ACTIONS
Jose (Cha-Cha) Jimenez, one of seven founders of the Young Lords street gang and the founder of the Young Lords as a national human rights movement, was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, of country folk or
Jíbaro parents on Aug.8,1948.
His mother Eugenia Rodriguez Flores, a retired housewife, worked most of her life in a factory. His father Antonio Jimenez Rodriguez deceased, began working as a “Tomatero” or a temporary migrating
farmworker, from 1946 until 1950 for Andy Voy Farms (Campbell Soups), near Concord, Massachusetts. He later worked 16 years as a meatpacker for Oscar Meyer Foods in Chicago.
The Jimenez family moved in 1950 from Massachusetts to Chicago’s downtown Water Hotel on Superior and Lasalle streets to be closer to relatives. This area from Ohio to North Avenue along Clark Street
was hotel rooms, mostly serving transients and kitchenette apartments transformed for large families by landlords, or quietly packed in by tenants, and now being milked for rents (before the cranes and
bulldozers arrived).Most residents worked as lower-skilled foundry laborers, meatpackers, factory piece workers, housekeepers and dishwashers in this low income, downtown neighborhood. It eventually
became stable and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico opened up their service office, across from the Water Hotel, and Puerto Ricans would call this area La Clark.
When Mayor Richard J. Daley first took office in 1955, expanding downtown became his campaign program. It soon became the Chicago 21 Plan. By 1957, all of the La Clark community had fallen victim to
the wrecking ball, or to building inspectors guided by patronage and the city’s master plan, and not interested in housing codes. Deals were smoked out secretly at first, with Mayor Richard Daley’s contractor
friends and with absentee landlords, like the infamous Rubloff. Soon the residents of La Clark were relocated to expand downtown and the Gold Coast, along Lake Michigan. Several large building units like
the Carl Sandburg Village, served as anchor. The Jimenez family and an entire Latino neighborhood had their homes: over inspected, forcibly sold, and then bought out cheaply with many rental units in
apartment buildings also demolished. Their community ripped apart and destroyed- voiceless and ignored- Puerto Ricans were scattered into the neighborhoods of: Lakeview, Uptown, 63rd, Wicker Park,
West Town, Humboldt Park, 18th Street, and Lincoln Park. Not long afterwards, these neighborhoods would themselves become urban renewed or urban removed and Puerto Ricans would be forced out
The largest of these Puerto Rican barrios or neighborhoods became enclaves within Wicker Park or Lincoln Park, by 1957. Both neighborhoods were created out of a combination of an influx of Puerto
Ricans from the island, displaced residents of La Clark and Puerto Ricans displaced due to the construction of the University of Illinois Circle Campus. Most of them had been forced by poverty and
prejudice, to live among skid row, their nucleus being Madison Street, between Halsted and Kedzie and now were being urban renewed. It was called the Barrio of La Madison. La Clark was a similar urban
renewal situation and environment of low income neighbors, split up hotel rooms and low rents.
Lincoln Park was seen as a move up, divided between the affluent “gold coast” on the east, along the lake and the white working class section, on the west. However, the displacements from La Clark and
La Madison and subsequent relocation into Wicker Park and Lincoln Park also led to tensions among residents. Lincoln Park became inundated with white street gang youth. It was where the mostly Puerto
Rican Young Lords gang originated in 1959, for protection and “respeto.” Orlando Davila, a Puerto Rican of dark complexion, feeling strongly the biases against his racial and national origin, heightened
now by displacement, recruited the young Latino gang founders. He called the first meeting of his gang at Arnold Elementary in an after school classroom.
Orlando was highly loved and respected for his physical protection and caring feelings toward the group. However, he never chose to become its official head or president. Jose (Cha-Cha) Jimenez, whose
residence was a block from Orlando’s but who practically lived in juvenile homes (with other Young Lords, for gang related offenses), was also at this first meeting along with the six other original founders of
the gang: Benny Perez, Angel Del Rivero, Fermin Perez, Santos Guzman, Orlando Davila, and Joe Vicente. Vicente was voted the first president. Cha-Cha Jimenez became the president of the Young
Lords in 1964, after several other presidents before him.
The Lincoln Park Community was a place where the Puerto Rican adult immigrants organized their retreats, rosaries, novenas, annual plays of the Crucifixion of Jesus, softball leagues, dances and Catholic
Sunday brunches, under the leadership of eloquent spokespersons, such as Jesus Rodriguez, and others of the Caballeros de San Juan (Knights of St. John) and Hijas de María (Daughters of Mary). On
weekends Oak Street Beach through North Avenue, up to Fullerton Beach, and beyond, including the zoo and the park, was filled with Puerto Ricans and other working class families.
The Puerto Rican Congress, Claudio Flores’ El Puertorriqueño newspaper, Raul Cardona’s radio program, Puro Pinzón’s and Mario Rivera’s stores, along with other major Puerto Rican organizations and
businesses, were also located in Lincoln Park. The first Fiestas de San Juan were held at St. Michael’s Church playground, and led to the organizing of the first Puerto Rican Parade of Chicago, in 1965.
Young Lords Fold
Several other Puerto Rican youth groups also developed in Lincoln Park as social clubs and they met at the Isham YMCA, organizing dances, picnics and other social activities. They were the Black Eagles,
Flaming Arrows, Paragons, Continentals, Rebels, Trojans, and Imperial Aces and Queens. These groups later turned into gangs and became part of an early 60s gang epidemic, as Lincoln Park and other
city neighborhoods transformed, became unstable and tensions grew.
In contrast, the Young Lords were always a gang and did not start out as a social club or youth group. They quickly sought out reputation walking into enemy territory and picking fights with all non-Latino
gangs in Lincoln Park. Soon, they grew into several branches. This included a section in Old Town, another in Evanston and a few women auxiliaries called the Young Lordettes. When the Young Lords
were transformed into a political, human rights group, male and female were both called Young Lords.
By 1967, the working class section of Lincoln Park became primarily Latino and the Young Lords – in their late teens without a gang war and without organized meetings – ceased to exist, except loosely, as a
gang. Some married or were on active Vietnam duty. Many were incarcerated for car thefts, purse snatching, burglaries, armed robberies, drug sales, stabbings, shootings, and other gang-related crimes.
Others fell victim to hard drugs. Still others moved to different neighborhoods and joined up with other gangs. Many became heads of other gangs, but never opposed the Young Lords.
During most of this period, Cha-Cha Jimenez and some remaining Young Lords spent their hours hanging out at the corner of Halsted and Dickens, at George’s Hot Dog stand. Here Jimenez also hung out
with loose members from the other gangs (some of whom he had spent time with in jails) and within a late 60s drug culture, they took to hard drugs, including: speed, acid, heroin, and cocaine. Cha-Cha
Jimenez frequented jail, now more often due to drug related offenses. In the summer of 1968, he was picked up for a possession of heroin charge and given a 60-day sentence at Cook County Jail.
An opposing black gang in jail told guards that Jimenez and five other Latinos were planning an escape. All were questioned, strip-searched and transferred to Maximum Security. It was here in “the hole”
that Cha-Cha Jimenez read The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton, about a Franciscan monk. It was his first book since dropping out in the second month of his freshman year at Waller High School
(now Lincoln Park High). The dropping out of school was facilitated by Cha-Cha Jimenez’s deportation to Puerto Rico, due to several juvenile related offenses – plea-bargained by an attorney that was hired
with coins saved by Cha-Cha’s mother – so that Cha-Cha would not be incarcerated, until the age of twenty one.
This religious book impacted Cha-Cha Jimenez, and he wrote a letter asking for a priest. Unconcerned with the everyday gossip of prisoners, he knelt down and went to confession between the cell bars of
“the hole”. Cha-Cha Jimenez then began to read about Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Black Nationalism and the organizing of the Black Panthers for self defense.
Books were being given to him by a Black Muslim who was assigned as the inmate librarian. He first looked at Cha-Cha Jimenez with scorn, due to Jimenez’s light skin and blue eyes. A cousin of Cha-Cha
Jimenez, who was of dark complexion and also a Jimenez and in the same “hole”, helped to smooth things out. He explained to the librarian that most Puerto Ricans, within their own families, are a mixture
of three cultures: African, Spanish European, and Indigenous Peoples.
Rioters were now being brought into the jail after King was assassinated, along with Mexican workers, rounded up in public relations raids by Immigration authorities. As they were being assigned dorms or
cells, they passed through maximum security or the North Cell House, for further processing. To prevent the Mexican workers from being pushed around by some white and black guards, Cha-Cha Jimenez
requested, and was given permission to translate for the Mexican workers, from his third level cell.
These experiences made a secluded and captive Cha-Cha Jimenez realize, a need to fight for social justice. He was determined to duplicate a Black Panther Party for self defense, within the Puerto Rican
and Latino communities. It was now also his intention to give up useless gang fighting and time consuming drugs upon his release, in order to devote all of his time to this new People’s Movement.
When Cha-Cha Jimenez was discharged from jail, no income forced him to enroll in an ex-offender GED program at Argonne National Laboratory. Mr. Bob Larson, who directed the program, was a peace
activist who also sported an “afro” and wore African dress. He wanted to expose his Black and Latino gang banger students to a broader education, so he took them on a field trip to protest the 1968
Democratic Convention. Here his students were able to witness first hand, protesters and reporters, beaten and bloodied by Mayor Daley’s police.
During this same period, the Puerto Rican section of Lincoln Park was being stripped of all city services to the poor. The Trina Davila Urban Progress Center was being relocated from the Armitage Avenue
Methodist Church (later Young Lord’s People’s Church and their national headquarters) in Lincoln Park, to the Humboldt Park neighborhood. This was an area in need of services, and now also increasing in
Puerto Ricans being displaced from Lincoln Park, as the result of the city’s urban renewal program.
Two-way streets in Lincoln Park were transformed into one-ways for traffic control and for this new dream of Mayor Richard Daley: a new inner city suburb in Lincoln Park. Sheriff’s evictions of Latino
neighbors became a common occurrence. Rents increased 400 percent within only one month’s time. Churches, hospitals, police and fire houses were being expanded or renovated or new ones built for the
new incoming, upper class Caucasian residents, as part of this city sponsored master plan. Entire city blocks were bought up by conglomerate developers furiously feasting, on a modern day land grab.
On Armitage Avenue between Fremont and Bissell streets, three real estate offices opened up for business on the same city block, about the same time. Homes of Puerto Ricans and the poor were targeted
and pirated for pennies by these and other real estate agents, working directly with investors and city developers. They sold and turned around these Lincoln Park homes, several times, like a fat kid turning
candy in a jar, at the grocery store.
Established businesses sought historical preservation or conservation to increase property value for selected buildings, mostly located in the “goldcoast” white section of Lincoln Park, as another way to
rehab or tear down areas around them, and help to evict, the “blighted poor”. Businesses added:” Old Town” to their signs, which served to announce changing times, for new upper-class homeowners; but
fear, and anxiety, for an existing stable and diverse working class community.
Lincoln Park was also 16-to-20-year-old home to the growing wave of the first Puerto Rican immigrants to Chicago. No one was trying to preserve their Puerto Rican immigrant history. The entire
neighborhood of Old Town was carved out from La Clark; but “Old La Clark” was not historically preserved, or conserved. Instead, a new Old Town, the new town plan, was being fantasized and created in
city hall backrooms. Businesses now, were also using the alleged prosperity of “Old Town” as a marketing symbol, to develop a domino effect, in order to further kick out Puerto Ricans and the poor, from the
Lincoln Park and later, Wicker Park communities.
This defaulted taxation practice has never served the citizens equitably. It segregates rich whites near the luxurious downtown Loop and Lake Michigan areas. While, African Americans, Latinos and the poor
are pushed and maintained segregated in the periphery of the city and its outlying changing suburbs. It was and continues to be the political plantation for harvesting patronage jobs – with some few trinkets
of jobs dished out to minority status symbols – symbols that have chosen to stop serving the People, and now only rubberstamp for Mayor Richard Daley. It is Chicago corrupt politics, since Mayor Richard
Daley became patronage head in 1955 (slowed down only briefly by the progressive, Mayor Harold Washington. It is also the neo-patronage model now being duplicated in other cities, world-wide.
Pat Devine and Dick Vision of Concerned Citizen’s of Lincoln Park asked Cha-Cha Jimenez to bring Puerto Ricans to the Department of Urban Renewal Council Meetings, in early September 1968.This
council then consisted of about 15 upper class Caucasians. Most were connected to the Lincoln Park Conservation Association, an organization that became a local smokescreen for the city’s housing
This neighborhood association in their housing speculation, later recruited, a couple Latino precinct captains, unnoticed before within their ranks, but now were being called by them – community leaders – to
help them promote their marketing hype, “that Latinos and the poor would be given $200 moving expenses and would later be relocated, back into Lincoln Park”. These puppet leaders were unsuccessful
because Latinos and the poor now living in Lincoln Park, and all other urban renewed communities of Chicago, are a mere handful.
Without funds and untrained in community organizing techniques, Cha-Cha Jimenez took his passion to every street corner, snack shop and bar where the gangs hung out. He was forced into fist fights,
kicked out from taverns by proprietors for his persistence, and ridiculed by other gang members, whose insults sometimes threatened physical harm. On the day of the urban renewal meeting, Cha-Cha
Jimenez walked in with about 60 converted youth.
Most original members of the Young Lords gang did not support Cha-Cha Jimenez on this first political action. This first group instead, consisted of members from different Chicago gangs: Latin Kings, Latin
Eagles, Harrison Gents, Black Eagles, Continentals, Paragons, Trojans, Rebels and other youth in Lincoln Park. However, the majority in this group were Young Lord gang members.
They did not sit down for the meeting. Instead they faced the stage forming a U-shape around and behind the attendees, and without neither verbal nor physical threats to those present; they took over the
meeting. Cha-Cha Jimenez quickly adjourned this meeting, informing everyone that no more Urban Renewal Community Conservation Council meetings would be permitted within Lincoln Park, until there
was, “Black, Latino, and Poor White representation.”
Everyone left the meeting, but not before this group of youth became angry and “thrashed” the place. That night all of the youth got away. Two days later, Jimenez was picked up on the corner for questioning.
This led to an arrest only after police discovered two old warrants for disorderly conduct (or talking and loitering on street corners).
News spread quickly of the victorious takeover of the meeting, the destruction of the urban renewal office building and Cha-Cha’s arrest. Two hundred people marched onto the Chicago Avenue Police
Station, demanding his release and Cha-Cha Jimenez was permitted to be released, on his own signature or recognizance bond.
The following six weeks saw Cha-Cha Jimenez being arrested and indicted a total of 18 times as Young Lords transformed themselves into internationalist revolutionary members of a People’s Movement.
They began to organize more community actions and programs, including demonstrations for: welfare rights, women’s rights, against police brutality, and for self determination for Puerto Rico and other Latin
In 1969, Manuel Rabago of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party invited and traveled together with Cha-Cha Jimenez to Puerto Rico to visit the shrine of Nationalist leader, Don Pedro Albizu Campos. Cha-Cha
Jimenez also met Blanca Canales, Don Juan Antonio Corretjer, Juan Mari Bras, Ruben Berrios, FUPI activists, Macheteros and other Puerto Rican compatriots and leaders, and marched with them, during
a rainy day in Lares, Puerto Rico, in 1969.
Earlier that March 21, 1969, Young Lords participated with Manuel Rabago in a Chicago radio program, on the Raul Cardona Show, commemorating the victims of the “Massacre de Ponce”. This massacre
took place in Puerto Rico on March 21,1937. Police shot with machine guns into a peaceful demonstration, led and organized by the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, to promote Puerto Rican independence
and protest the continuous harassment and incarceration of Puerto Rican independence leader, Don Pedro Albizu Campos Ph.D. The Puerto Rican police under the direct guidance of the United States, on
that day, killed 19 and wounded 100 Puerto Rican protesters.
In June, 1969, the Young Lords dressed up in the Nationalist uniform (in black shirts and white pants) and marched in support with the nationalists, in Chicago’s Puerto Rican parade. 10,000 People led by
Young Lords marched and carried Don Pedro Albizu Campos signs – several miles, from Lincoln Park to Humboldt Park – in the summer of 1969.These Young Lord protests, were the first marches for Puerto
Rican self determination, in Chicago’s history.
Cha-Cha Jimenez was incarcerated in 1975 for nine months, in an action demonstrating support for the FALN Prisoners of War. He again spoke of their mistreatment, as he introduced the new Mayor Harold
Washington (which the Young Lords helped to elect) -before a neighborhood festival crowd, organized by the Office of Special Events, the Puerto Rican Parade Committee and the Young Lords – of 100,000
Puerto Ricans in Humboldt Park, Chicago, on June, 1983.
The very next day, Cha-Cha Jimenez and Puerto Rican activist, Jose Lopez, PhD, and others met with the local FBI Director John Webb and his staff, in their Chicago office. Together, this group protested
and demanded that the FBI stop the mistreatment and torture of the FALN, Puerto Rican freedom fighters.
The following day, after that meeting, Rudy Lozano, another Latino Harold Washington supporter and Mexican activist, was assassinated in his home by a local drug dealer. The Young Lords, Rev. Walter
(Slim)Coleman, Marion Stamps, Rev. Al Sampson and Jesus Garcia, helped to organize the first annual procession for Rudy Lozano, marching thru the Mexican community on 18th street, to the Church
In 1969, bail bonds became much higher after the Young Lords gave their total support for Puerto Rican self determination. Charges were now framed to portray the new Young Lord activists, as hard core
criminals. Cha-Cha Jimenez and others were picked up now, prior to leaving for several peaceful demonstrations, and charged with mob action. These charges were later dropped in court by the State’s
Attorney, but only after Cha-Cha Jimenez and the Young Lords were tarnished as “criminals”, and were able to receive free legal assistance, by the People’s Law Office. Before that, the Young Lords
accepted police brutality and civil rights violations, as life in the neighborhood.
False police charges now being incurred by Cha-Cha Jimenez and others, for organizing and participating in non violent demonstrations, included: possession of marijuana and possession of weapons,
mob actions, and alleged assaults on the police. Assaults on the Police, usually meant that the Young Lords and Cha-Cha Jimenez were forced to cover, or to defend themselves to avoid injury from police
fists, brass knuckles, Billy clubs, guns and threatened police raids on the People’s Church. One announcement on nationwide ABC claimed that the Young Lords had,” just purchased and now have a large
cache of illegal weapons inside People’s Church for the upcoming October demonstrations.” All the weapons inside the People’s Church were registered and legal for protection. The Young Lords focus was
not on weapons at that time, but on serving the People through survival programs, education, community actions, and organizing for the empowerment of people.
The same States Attorney Edward Hanrahan that brought the 18 indictments in six weeks, against Cha-Cha Jimenez, was himself found guilty and fined over a million dollars, for directing the predawn raid
that killed Black Panther leaders, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, on Dec.4,1969.Commander Braasch of the 18th District Police Station who conducted most of the arrests on Cha-Cha Jimenez, the Young
Lords and their Lincoln Park supporters, was himself indicted and found guilty of extorting local businesses in Lincoln Park. The commander had a private police team of money collectors, visiting local
businesses and telling them that the Chicago Avenue Police Station would provide specialized protection, from the Young Lords and other Lincoln Park street gangs.
The Young Lords held protest demonstrations in front of real estate offices – including at least one owned by the local mafia – located between Fremont and Bissell Streets, on Armitage. They held a sit in at
Grant Hospital and threatened another at Augustana Hospital demanding that they stop turning away the poor, now being referred by the Young Lords’ Emeterio Betances Free Health Clinic. Three hundred
and fifty persons camped out on vacant land, where Puerto Ricans once lived, at the corner of Halsted and Armitage to halt construction of a one block, indoor tennis court which had a proposed membership
of $1000 per year.
The Young Lords also joined welfare recipients, Obed Lopez, president of LADO (Latin American Defense Organization),Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers and activist
Maria Porrata(later of the WestTown Concerned Citizens Coalition)and together through sit ins and outside demonstrations; they forced the closing of the Wicker Park Welfare Office, twice. Their demands
included a formation of a union for caseworkers and dignified service for welfare recipients. Cha-Cha Jimenez, Obed Lopez and Fred Hampton were arrested for mob action at both of these
Architect Howard Alan invited and brought the world renowned architect, Buckminister Fuller, to the People’s Church to meet with Cha-Cha Jimenez and the Young Lords. Soon after the Young Lords and the
Poor People’s Coalition of Lincoln Park hired Howard Alan to draw up architectural plans for a multi unit affordable housing complex. These housing plans were supported and presented by a broad group of
businesses and community organizations, which included the former head of the Department of Urban Renewal; Mr.Ira Bach. However, the plans were rejected publicly, in a tumultuous housing committee
meeting of the city council.
The Lincoln Park Poor People’s Coalition and the Young Lords found themselves black listed or red listed, with limited resources. Without needed funding from foundations nor city agencies, they
approached the United Methodist Church on Armitage Avenue, for space for its programs. This church was completely vacant, except for Sundays. It was here where city services for the Lincoln Park poor
had once been distributed. It was also where Young Lords and other street gangs had previously hung out outside, prior to their transformation. The Young Lords asked the congregation to rent space for: a
free day care center, to be run like a family cooperative, a free dental and health clinic, a Puerto Rican cultural center, and a free breakfast for children program.
Negotiations by the Young Lords, led by Cuban American Luis Cuza, with the Armitage Avenue Methodist Church congregation, broke down. They did not want a militant gang in their church. Luis Chavez, a
Young Lord of Mexican descent, then led the small group of Young Lords gathered outside of the meeting; and seized the church.
Luis Chavez then signaled from a window to Cha-Cha Jimenez, who was standing outside talking with Pastor Bruce Johnson and let him know that the takeover was complete. The congregation immediately
called the police and the church was surrounded with police SWAT teams. It resembled a war zone.
To prevent a bloody confrontation, Rev. Bruce Johnson, standing and conversing with Cha-Cha Jimenez outside, told the police that he, as the pastor, had given the Young Lords permission to be inside the
Church. By now the Lincoln Park streets near the area were filled with Latinos and the poor. The police fearing a riot, assessed the situation, and wisely chose not to attempt to enter the church.
The very next day, the Armitage Avenue United Methodist Church name was changed, by the Young Lords, and the remaining congregation, to the People’s Church. Programs were instituted and People’s
Church was filled and busy serving a victorious and elated neighborhood. At the press conference, with Pastor Bruce Johnson at his side, Cha-Cha Jimenez was asked by a reporter, if the Young Lords were
going to permit the congregation to hold church service. Jimenez replied,” this is not a take over, it is a liberated People’s Church, and not only will there be Sunday service, but I and the Young Lords will
Shortly after the “liberation”, murals were painted by Young Lord supporters inside and outside of the church: on the gym and church walls. Buttons were made with the new People’s Church insignia,
approved by the congregation. The murals included the insignia of the Young Lords, a national headquarters sign, Puerto Rican history events and murals of revolutionary leaders, Che Guevara, Lolita
Lebron, Adelita, and Zapata.
This art work was primarily painted by artist and community activist, Ron Clark and Mexican muralist, Ms.Felicitas Nunez, who traveled from San Diego, California and donated her work.
Prior to the Young Lords entering People’s Church, Cha-Cha Jimenez and the leader of the Young Patriots, William (Preacherman) Fesperman, joined the call of Chairman Fred Hampton of the Black
Panther Party, and together they set up the Rainbow Coalition, nationwide. Several truces with Latino street gangs were facilitated within the People’s Church, by the Young Lords.
During this same People’s Church liberation era, meetings were also held with various institutions requesting that they invest in low income housing. Mckormick Theological Seminary flatly refused to invest -
as they saw it as a loss and not in their strategic plans -the Young Lords chained doors, and seized their administration building. The following morning, the Young Lords were joined by over three hundred
and fifty community residents and together, they occupied the seminary’s offices for seven days, until all of their demands were met. Visitors were allowed into the building but were searched and screened
Inside, the people were organized into teams of volunteers that prepared and served food and cleaned up and provided a baby sitting cooperative, along with other basic needs, for the families. These
families now voted to bring in more neighbors with their children, as another tactic, to prevent a shoot out or a storming of the building by the Police. The police were out of sight but outside, nearby, and
actively plotting to evict these trespassers.
There were daily recitals of poetry, dance and live music inside the auditorium of this administration building. While Young Lords also provided: political education workshops, work assignment meetings,
and press conferences for the media, from a balcony, to crowds gathered daily.
These activities provided information, relieved tension and maintained moral. The demands were all met, including: $25,000 to begin a LADO (Latin American Defense Organization) free clinic, $25,000 for
start up monies for a cultural center, $25,000 to help open the People’s Law Office and $650,000 for McKormick Theological Seminary, to invest in affordable housing.
Repression was stiff for the members of the Young Lords. An entire Progressive and Latino community, within Lincoln Park – home also to the first Puerto Rican immigrants to Chicago – was completely
wiped off the map by urban renewal and Mayor Daley’s repressive policies. Any community person expressing free speech in Lincoln Park, through wearing a Young Lords button was “stopped and frisked”.
Cha-Cha Jimenez was indicted 18 times, within a six week period, on felony counts. He would be arrested prior, or right after peaceful demonstrations.
Police from squad car megaphones yelled out obscenities at the Young Lords as they drove passed the church. Many times the police would stop to harass, humiliate and attempt to discredit them in public.
Mayor Richard Daley’s task forces used media connections and patronage machine workers, to spread negative rumor campaigns about the Young Lords, within their controlled media newspapers, like the
Lerner, and also door to door.
The “Red Squad”, a Chicago police department to infiltrate and gather information on anti-government groups, was parked across the street 24 hours a day. They would follow Young Lords and their
supporters or photograph any one entering and leaving the People’s Church. Fire and building inspectors harassed the congregation and were able to get a judge hired through patronage, to levy a $200
daily fine on the Young Lords, free day care center (located within a gym).Ceilings would have to be lowered and floors raised 3 feet.
Letters were being sent and meetings called by Councilman Barr McCutheon and his Uptigd organization(United People to Inform Good Doers)demanding that the United Methodist Bishop, remove the
Young Lords from the Church.
United States Congressional Committees on subversive activities were also formed with special hearings, to gather information for future indictments against the Young Lords and their leadership. Mayor
Daley called a publicized meeting of his department heads – building, fire and police – to form a city wide task force and declare WAR ON GANGS. He specifically included at the top of this list: the Black
Panthers, Young Patriots and the Young Lords.
It was not surprising that around this same time interviewers with film cameras increased their presence at the People’s Church. They would immediately lead into questions like:” when did you first become
a communist” or “do all the Young Lords carry guns or just the Central Committee,” This would become the focus of their interview, and these statements were later misquoted or taken out of context and
discovered in special committee hearings.
The Justice Department displayed ID’S and also interviewed community persons outside People’s Church, because the Young Lords would not permit them to enter. They claimed that they had come to
protect the Young Lords’ civil liberties, but repression by policing authorities, was abundant and all around.
The FBI’S Cointelpro or counter intelligence program was already investigating and attacking the Black Panthers by fomenting gang type wars, and creating divisions. They also targeted the Young Lords,
now members of the Rainbow Coalition, and other progressive groups, like Rising Up Angry. Rising Up Angry was led by Mike James. They were working in Lincoln Park with white greaser gangs, whose
families were also being evicted.
FBI agents also visited several family members of Cha-Cha Jimenez, while he was underground, as well as families of other Young Lord leaders. Police set a fire at one demonstration protesting Police
brutality, in front of the Chicago Avenue police station, and another fire, in front of Mayor Daley’s home, where the Young Lords had been protesting the off duty police shooting, of Young Lord member:
These were extinguished quickly before chaos could erupt, by Young lords security, headed by Angel Del Rivero. The police provocateurs, common in demonstrations, were sometimes discovered and were
prevented from disrupting, several Young Lord marches.
At the Cook County Jail, police met with inmates prior to their release, to locate enemies, or to frighten jailed supporters into providing information about the Young Lords and the Black Panthers, and to
recruit new infiltrators.
Groups like the Commancheros and Concerned Puerto Rican Youth (it was reported later from reports of public hearings) were given start up funds for their organizations for providing information to the
police, which was often distorted. These groups loaded their answers and attempted to stigmatize the Young Lords more by labeling them as communists and terrorists. They hoped to join in on the band
wagon and discredit the Young Lords work, in return for favors or funds.
The Commancheros appeared out of the blue. They wore blue berets to counter the Young Lords purple berets and opened up their offices in an apartment building next to People’s Church. The Young Lords
did not confront the Comancheros until they began to solicit money in the neighborhood, using the Young Lords name. The police then came to the People’s Church and warned the Young Lords not to
“intimidate them” or Young Lords would be arrested.
It was discovered that the Black Panthers and Young Lords were being featured in police training videos. This led to Cha-Cha and other Young Lords often being caught alone and beaten up by police, but
not arrested. Some Young Lords, when arrested, were paraded in handcuffs before shift change, so that the entire police station could keep track of their whereabouts. These common stop and frisk
encounters would often lead to provocation and the fabrication of more alleged crimes.
According to Red Squad files, there were very few community meetings where agents were not present and gathering information. This has been discovered as the result of the Freedom of Information Act,
which allows the reading of FBI files. The Young Lords were also victims of city hall’s Gang Intelligence Unit, who were brutal and lacked any semblance of professionalism. The Cobra Stones, a black youth
gang, told the Young Lords when they arrived at the Mckormick Theological Seminary take-over; that they had received money from the Gang Intelligence Unit to disrupt a previous demonstration, and also
the current take-over of the seminary.
With so many Young Lord arrests; mostly on Cha-Cha Jimenez and the leadership. The police hoped to chop up the heads, exhaust their finances, discredit the Young Lords, and thereby destroy their strong
community based support. The Young Lords fought back strategically by engaging in what the Young Lords called: waging a “protracted struggle” and used several methods to increase longevity and their
support among “the People”.
They continued to provide services through their programs. They organized large public events like block parties and demonstrations and sold their newspapers on busy street corners. When forced
completely underground by police repression, the Young Lords set up a training school for their leadership, in a rented farm house, outside Tomah, Wisconsin. It was organized by Cha-Cha Jimenez who was
fleeing the courts and already underground. The school lasted eighteen months and had approximately 25 students.
It closed after a member was injured accidentally, from a discharged weapon and had to be taken to an emergency room. Security was compromised and the school now moved closer to the Milwaukee
chapter of the Young Lords. It was always kept separate from this local Young Lords chapter, to prevent a further escalation of repression on them. The training school’s sole mission was to help train
members to take over national headquarters in Chicago.
Soon after the move, it was decided by the central committee of the Young Lords, to lay out a strategy for a People’s Protracted Struggle – or a longer form of waging struggle for People’s Power – by
educating the community through organized actions, like demonstrations, special events and survival programs. Since it was believed that individuals don’t make significant change on their own in a
People’s Movement – all individuals were subordinate to the organization. Cha-Cha Jimenez was therefore, not be permitted by the Young Lords to flee to Cuba or to some other safe haven. In this infancy
stage, it could have led to the complete destruction of the Young Lords. Instead, it was voted by a committee, for Cha-Cha Jimenez to remain within the United States and serve his one year sentence, fight
the remaining 17 felony indictments; and lead the Young Lords from his jail cell.
Communications Secretary, Angie Navedo was voted to run the Young Lords on the outside and to coordinate with Cha-Cha Jimenez. Angie had been at the training school and was the leader of Mothers
and Others (MAO), a completely separate women’s group within the Young Lords. Her husband was Young Lord, José (Pancho) Lind who was killed by a white street gang.
The Young Lords National Office resurfaced from being underground in Chicago on December 4, 1972. This was the anniversary of the predawn raid where Chairman Fred Hampton was killed by police
and Cha-Cha Jimenez walked into the Town Hall District Police Station to begin serving one year and to face the seventeen remaining felony charges.
Cha-Cha Jimenez was greeted in below zero weather by five hundred demonstrators. He quietly got out of a cab and walked inconspicuously into the crowd, able to shake hands with a few People, before
the police could grab him.
Dennis Cunningham, Flint Taylor, and Jeff Hass of the People’s Law Office were present and the Police allowed Cha-Cha Jimenez to speak to the crowd, from a bull horn. It was during a moon landing and
Cha-Cha Jimenez said that, “they (the U.S.) should investigate the craters left behind in Vietnam”.
The Lakeview/Uptown community of Chicago, where the Town Hall district police station was located, was selected as the site where Cha-Cha Jimenez would turn himself in, because there was also a
Puerto Rican enclave there that was being gentrified. Also, by that time most Puerto Ricans had been completely displaced from Lincoln Park.
It was in Lakeview/Uptown where the Young Lords would follow the community organizing example set by Bobby Seale and the National Black Panthers and announce, in 1973, to run Cha-Cha Jimenez for
Alderman of the 46th ward, upon his release from jail. The Aldermanic Campaign was then viewed solely, as an organizing vehicle, to maintain the Young Lords in the public eye and therefore hope to slow
down further repression.
In 1973, Jimenez became the first announced Latino aldermanic candidate to publicly oppose the much feared “Daley Machine”. By February, 1975, Jimenez received 39% of the 51% needed to win, in an
area where only 1000 Latinos were registered to vote. This was achieved with a coalition of the Independent Precinct Organization and the Intercommunal Survival Front, headed by the now Rev. Walter
(Slim) Coleman of St. Aldaberto United Methodist Church.
On May 4, 1969, Young Lord Manuel Ramos, was shot through his eye by off duty policeman, James Lamb. There were witnesses at the scene and the Young Lords made a citizens arrest. Instead, four
Young Lords (the Cuatro Lords) were arrested and charged with assaulting police officer, James Lamb.
Courts filled to capacity, along with several large protest marches that included a huge funeral procession, led along Armitage Avenue, by a large contingent of motor cycles from the Horsemen motorcycle
group; but it was still ruled justifiable homicide.
Jose (Pancho) Lind, another Young Lord of dark complexion, husband to Angie Navedo, and father of four children, was beaten to death with baseball bats by a white gang, in a different neighborhood. The
first policeman at the scene was the brother to one of the murderers and he helped to destroy and to scatter the evidence.
Perhaps it was because Jose (Pancho) Lind was dark skinned or a Puerto Rican, or a Young Lord but the court filled rooms, multiple witnesses, and protest marches by the community calling for justice, and
for the indictment of those involved, were ignored. None was ever prosecuted. Deaths of other Young Lords like Julio Roldan in New York (ruled a suicide) have also not been solved.
Rev. Bruce Johnson, the United Methodist Pastor of People’s Church was found fatally stabbed 17 times, inside his home. His wife was also found stabbed 9 times, in their bedroom. A postal worker
discovered their blood drenched bodies, the next day as the Johnson’s two little children cried while trying to explain, that their martyred parents, would not wake up.
This was front page news and appeared on every television screen in Chicago. Nearly 40 years have gone by, and with DNA and other advances, still nothing has been done by the Chicago police.
Perhaps, it is because he “supported youth for a change”, or because these youth were Latinos, or Young Lords, who were fighting Mayor Richard Daley’s gentrification programs; and they supported self
determination for their community and their Puerto Rican nation, but nothing was investigated.
Cha-Cha Jimenez was in jail at the time for “bond jumping” or not being able to be in three courtrooms at the same time. He had to be bonded out of jail by the United Methodist Bishop, so that he could say
a few words at the service. Cha-Cha Jimenez and others spoke to an overflow crowd, within Pastor Bruce Johnson’s People’s Church and the Young Lords national headquarters. After the service, the
Young Lords led worshippers in a procession. They marched around the neighborhood where Rev. Bruce Johnson sacrificed his life and the lives of his family, to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ, and for
the inalienable right of Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and the poor, to control their own neighborhoods, and their own destinies.
The leadership of other Young Lord chapters like New York, Philadelphia and Newark were also targets by the FBI’S Cointelpro who began sending infiltrators to gather information and to split up a People’s
Self determination for Puerto Rico, a possession of the United States, is the Young Lords primary goal. A possession occupied and taken over by military force and now being applied the name of
commonwealth can not be considered a commonwealth, like Massachusetts or other states in the United States of North America.
In 1952, nearly everyone voting believed that they were voting for Independence because the governor Munoz Marin had said so, and he had also previously advocated for Puerto Rican Independence in
support of Don Pedro Albizu Campos.
Even still, the majority of the Puerto Rican people boycotted this referendum because they believe that elections on the Puerto Rican Island are just a tool, to maintain a puppet government for the United
States, which will eventually turn Puerto Rico over to them.
Since only part of the Puerto Rican nation voted for the commonwealth status(none of the other half of the Puerto Ricans living within the Diaspora or the urban areas of United States cities were permitted to
vote, and Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico have never voted in presidential elections; the commonwealth term is clearly a designation of default. It is also obvious that it is an attempt by military and United
States corporate interests, to swindle Puerto Rico away from its people and force them into a state of the union. Using this strategy, Puerto Rico will only be able to become free, if it secedes militarily from
the United States.
Puerto Rico was allegedly given away by Spain as War Booty to the United States, after Spain’s defeat, in the Spanish American War of 1898.However, Puerto Rico was already an independent nation in
1897, unconnected, and opposed to the then colonizer, Spain. It sided with the United States during the Spanish American War in return for assistance to form its own roots, as an independent nation. The
United States deceived Puerto Ricans claiming to be their support. The United States then invaded through the Puerto Rican beach at Guanica, and placed a military general, as their first governor, to
occupy the young Puerto Rican nation.
Therefore, the Puerto Rican nation can not be considered a state in the form of a commonwealth state, or in any other form of state, except as the Puerto Rican nation. It is not attempting to secede from any
“Union” as the trap has been laid. Puerto Ricans have never been an official part of this United States “Union”. Instead, Puerto Rico has always been an occupied country. The reality is that it is the last
colony of this hemisphere. It is not a Massachusetts.
The occupation and colonial status is shameful, for an America that professes freedom and democracy for all, while it arrests and kills heads of other countries, puts up walls specifically around a Latino
Mexico, and continues to colonize the Puerto Rican nation.
So proudly do Puerto Ricans wave and dress up in their Puerto Rican flag, for every and any type of holiday, that it is obvious that the only union that Puerto Ricans belong to is the Nation of Puerto Rico.
The current maltreatment of Mexican people: brothers and sisters to Puerto Ricans gives more clarity for Puerto Ricans to decide on what side “Tomateros” will stand on.
The Puerto Rican legislature has acted only as a rubber stamp smokescreen for colonial occupiers, of this Puerto Rican “Land of Enchantment”. Its members prove everyday that they are well qualified to run
Puerto Rico. Yet political leaders only seek hand outs and rationalize the occupation, as the pragmatic way for Puerto Ricans to get jobs from the United States. But Puerto Rico’s major problem, is that all
their natural resources, politics and People, are being controlled by a foreign power. This brings economic dependency.
The solution is not complicated: it is a simple case of self rule. Like every other nation in the world, Puerto Ricans are born with inalienable rights and qualifications to run themselves, their own resources,
and their own money, and thereby provide their own jobs.
Over 100,000 people work for the Puerto Rican puppet government – in political patronage positions – in a country of only 100 by 35 square miles with just 3.5 million residents(the other 3 million were lured
out to the United States in search of entry level jobs, as a strategic way to take over Puerto Rico).With continuous unemployment steady above 30 percent, welfare stipends, and a large retired population
dependent on Social Security and food stamp hand outs; this so called “commonwealth status” has also turned Puerto Rico into a “welfare plantation”. It is a plantation mindset that if left unchecked will rob
Puerto Rico, of all its resources. The People of Vieques, Puerto Rico have demonstrated recently, by their victorious protests; that the United States also wants to maintain the islands of Puerto Rico, as a
By the second decade, the 2020 master plan for Puerto Rico will soon give foreign capitalists free reign, not only as tourists, but to grab the land and buy up Puerto Rican homes cheaply. Puerto Ricans in
desperate straits, living in prime areas of real estate, will be forced to sell, by the very same methods that Mayor Richard Daley’s master plan, has been instituted in Chicago.
When the United States generals took over Puerto Rico in 1898, the currency was changed from the Spanish Peso to the United States dollar. Many Puerto Ricans lost fortunes in the transfer. The postal
service, courts, prison system, media, big business, National Guard (Puerto Rico has no army); and all the puppet government, is controlled by the United States. Tax free multinational corporations provide
low level, needed jobs but not as a service to Puerto Ricans but for cheap labor and huge profits.
The Jones Act in 1917 forced Puerto Ricans to become citizens only so they could be drafted, and put on the front lines of: World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War and Iraq. Yet
today, Puerto Ricans are sacrificing and shedding blood, to fight for a United States that is colonizing their country.
This antiquated colonizing of Puerto Rico by the United States is clearly Manifest Destiny, racial thinking and hypocritical. The United States should immediately accept the United Nations’ resolution that
declares that Puerto Rico is a colony and begin the process of transferring power back to the Puerto Ricans, as some congressmen have proposed. It is sad and a waste of energy on both sides, because
this problem of colonialism will not dissipate and in the future could quickly turn raw. Puerto Rico belongs to the Puerto Rican people. The recent killing of Machetero leader, Filiberto Ojeda Rios by the FBI
has served to unite Puerto Ricans even more. It appears that Puerto Ricans will not permit anyone to enslave Puerto Rico much longer.
The American people are a country proud of its Independence, from their colonizer, England. Yet, the CIA and the FBI conduct military maneuvers, raids and plot out assassinations, on those who oppose the
continued subjugation of the Puerto Rican People. Don Pedro Albizu Campos, head of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico said it all, when he said that,” any local cop in any United States city has the power
to arrest the governor and any other politician in Puerto Rico.”
Until he died; Don Pedro Albizu Campos suffered most of his life in prison for fighting for Puerto Rican liberty. He is the true Puerto Rican hero. Now that more Puerto Ricans are becoming aware of their
colonial status; It would be considered by them an honor, to kiss the ground where he walked.