Love & Riot: Oscar Zeta Acosta and the great Mexican American Revolt. With Preamble by Diego Vigil with the assistance of Richard E. Vigil, Nome de guerre, Mangas Coloradas. Edited by Andrea Alessandra Cabello, UCBerkeley. $39.95
By Burton Moore
ISBN: 0-915745-29-1 $39.95.
Brown Buffalo, as he was known in the barrios of Los Angeles among street people, at the height of the riots in in the late 1960’s and 70’s, was the epitome of the Movimiento. He was smart, rebellious, unpredictable, occasionally high on drugs, but terrifyingly honest to himself and the world. This is the story of the rage and fury that swept LA during the gestation of the Movimiento Chicano and of the remarkable life of Oscar Zeta Acosta—a radical civil-rights lawyer who defended Chicano activists, won new rights for Latinos, and challenged the LA establishment.
Burton Moore, a journalist and writer who worked with Attorney Acosta, witnessed many of the events that swept Los Angeles into a new age. He recounts the famous school walk-outs, the confrontations with the Catholic Church, the arson at the Biltmore Hotel, the rebellion in the streets, the Chicano protest at UCLA, and the Moratorium Riot, which ended with the untimely death of Ruben Salazar. These events are pictured against, background of life in East Los Angeles a generation ago. It is written as a tribute to that generation—and to the young men and women who were inspired by the Movimiento. The author covers the legal skirmishes orchestrated by Oscar Acosta following the riots of the late 1960’s―to free vatos y carnales from incarceration and police brutality―and provides an intimate biography replete with little known aspects of his life from his youth to his untimely and mysterious death. Acosta emerges as a towering leader capable of inspiring and rallying the community in the streets, mesmerizing the TV audiences, and defending effectively the rioters in court. A restless man who was in conflict with himself, and unable in the end to endure his own nightmares.
Andrea Alessandra Cabello, UC Berkeley