|Parts of this article (those related to criminal charges) are outdated. (July 2013)|
at the San José Peace & Justice Center, February 19, 2012
Carlos Montes is a nationally respected leader in the Chicano, immigrant rights, and anti-war movements. He was a co-founder of the Brown Berets, a Chicano working class youth organization in the United States in the late 1960s and 1970s. The Brown Berets were inspired by and often compared to the Black Panther Party. Montes was one of the leaders of the Chicano Blowouts, a series of walkouts of East Los Angeles high schools to protest against racism and inequality in Los Angeles-area high schools. He is portrayed by Fidel Gomez in the 2006 HBO movie Walkout.
He is currently[when?] facing charges on a firearms violation that he and supporters insist is bogus and politically motivated, intended to stifle dissent.
Early political work
The agenda of the Brown Berets was to fight police harassment, inadequate public schools inadequate health care, inadequate job opportunities, minority education issues, the lack of political representation, and the Vietnam War. It had a 13-oint program that included self-determination for Chicanos. It set up branches in Texas, New Mexico, New York, Florida, Chicago, St. Louis and other metropolitan areas with Chicano populations.
Montes was indicted twice for the ELA Blowout (he was one of the East LA 13) and later with ten others for conspiracy to commit arson by the Los Angeles Police Department at a demonstration against then Governor Ronald Reagan in 1969. After threats against his life and beatings by the police and many arrests on false charges, he went underground and lived in Juarez, Mexico, and later in El Paso, Texas, where he did organized labor. He was rearrested in May 1977 and tried. However, with a competent legal defense, community support and a defense committee he was found not guilty of all charges. The Walkout indictment was dismissed as unconstitutional.
Recent political work
Montes remains an activist and is a leader of Latinos Against War, a Latino anti-war organization based in Los Angeles and a member of the immigrant advocacy group the Southern California Immigration Coalition.
With the 2003 Bush administration war and occupation of Iraq, Montes helped form and lead L.A. Latinos Against War. He helped to organize protests against the September 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
In December 2008, Montes was a founding member of the Southern California Immigration Coalition, to fight against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and police repression; and to organize the yearly May 1 marches and rallies to demand full legalization. He continues to fight to defend public education and helped to lead the fight to keep Garfield High School public, his alma mater in ELA. He is also currently[when?] active in the Committee to Stop FBI Repression.
Current political activity
Montes has been organizing against unnecessary FBI raids which tend to focus on dismantling and preventing activist group activity through intimidation.
On 17 May 2011, Montes was arrested following an FBI raid in his Los Angeles home. According to reports, his home was ransacked and his computer, cell phones and hundreds of documents such as photographs, diskettes and mementos of his current political activity were removed by FBI. He was arrested on one charge of dealing with a firearm code, and released the following morning. A court appearance was scheduled for June 16, 2011.
- "Announcements". Latinos Against War website. Latinos Against War. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
- Staff. "FBI and Los Angeles County Sheriff Raid Veteran Chicano Activist Carlos Montes". news article. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Interview with Carlos Montes About the Brown Berets (Winter 2003)