Los Cinco Puntos | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo courtesy of GPA Consulting, Inc

Los Cinco Puntos

Home to two important community assets, this unique site is referred to by many as Los Cinco Puntos in reference to the five points of intersection of East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, Lorena Boulevard, and Indiana Street. 

The southern side of the intersection contains a butcher shop, or carnicería, named after Los Cinco Puntos. It is a simple stucco building and features a mixed media mural on one side. In addition to its meat and tortillas, the carnicería is popular during the holidays for its tamales. 

Additionally, Los Cinco Puntos/Five Points Memorial contains two plots honoring Mexican American veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Together, these two memorials—Morin Square Memorial and War Memorial—pay tribute to the strong presence of the veteran community in the Eastside.

Every year on the eve of Memorial Day, there is a 24-hour vigil where volunteers stand guard over the memorials. The vigil concludes on the morning of Memorial Day with a ceremony that includes community leaders and politicians. 

On December 20, 1969, Los Cinco Puntos was the starting location of the first Chicano Moratorium march in protest of the Vietnam War in East Los Angeles. The demonstration was a significant milestone for Chicanx activists from the Eastside and drew national attention. 

In the decade leading up to the Chicano Civil Right Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, Chicanx communities were increasingly marginalized. Basic municipal services became difficult to acquire for many in the Chicanx communities, particularly those in unincorporated East Los Angeles. Infant mortality rates were on the rise, as healthcare services were expensive and difficult to access. Student activism became a defining feature of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, as they rejected harassment and discrimination from teachers and administrators within the public school system. Student involvement was a poignant animator and defining factor in vocalizing social discontent.

By the mid-1960s, Chicanx activist groups, including large numbers of youth, mobilized in response to these social inequalities. Chicanx high school students, for example, staged a series of prominent walkouts in 1968. Known as the East L.A. Walkouts or Blowouts, these events drew attention to substandard conditions in eastside schools and led to significant tensions with local law enforcement, whose actions increasingly were racially motivated.

The acceleration of the United States’ armed conflicts overseas, however, also spurred response from community activists.

Beginning with denunciation of U.S. military activities in Vietnam, Chicanx anti-war demonstrations called for domestic battles on a range of issues affecting Chicanx communities, issues that organizers deemed more pressing than global warfare.

The formation of the Chicano Moratorium Committee in 1969 brought matters to a national audience and on December 20 of the same year, organizers spearheaded their first large-scale march in East Los Angeles. Earlier that month, Chicanx-led organizations from around the country met in Denver and formed the Committee to raise the profile of the anti-war movement. A founding member of the committee was the Brown Berets, an activist organization based in East Los Angeles.

Los Cinco Puntos War Memorial, being an important site to U.S. military history, was designated as the starting location for the historic Chicanx anti-war march. From that intersection, marchers traveled just over a mile to Eugene A. Obregon Park.

One thousand people attended the December 1969 march, and prominent members like Rosalio Muñoz and David Sanchez of the Brown Berets, led the march. During the march, Berets carried a casket honoring serviceman Eugene Obregon, a Mexican American marine who died during the Korean War. The park that served as the terminus of the march was named in his honor. 

In East Los Angeles, Chicanx activist groups organized direct action to fight against social inequality and wartime activities, and they sought to amplify these issues before a national audience. Los Cinco Puntos served as a rallying point for activists to recall the ongoing Chicanx participation in twentieth century U.S. war efforts and to denounce their continued marginalization as citizens at home.

The success of the December 20, 1969 march encouraged participants to develop a broad platform of reforms, including access to quality social services, healthcare, and education.

Following the march, the Chicano Moratorium Committee experienced newfound political strength and was seen as an effective organization working on behalf of the Chicanx community in East Los Angeles.

The sites associated with the 1969 march reflect the evolution of the broader Chicano Civil Rights Movement in the time leading up to the major Chicano Moratorium demonstration on August 29, 1970.

Today, Los Cinco Punto represents not only a site of remembrance, but also a site of local empowerment. 

Photo courtesy Calvin Fleming on Flickr

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