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The Chicano

Bomb Plot
in San Diego (1970)
By Roger Ogden
This is secret history of San Diego and Chicano Park. The local Chicanos, media and politicians
hope that it will be forgotten. In 1970, three members of the militant Chicano group, Brown
Berets de Aztlan were, arrested and ultimately convicted of crimes associated with a plot to
firebomb City College in San Diego, David Rico, Carlos Rede Calderon and Richard Gonzalves.
All were convicted of distributing bombs and criminal syndicalism. In addition, Calderon was
convicted of soliciting murder.
This article outlines how it happened and also discusses how the goals, tactics and behavior of
prominent Chicano activists in Barrio Logan and the local area have not changed very much.
They still promote their revolutionary ideology at public expense. The City of San Diego is
expected to give them a new museum to make it easier to indoctrinate children and young
people. They often rely on threats and intimidation to obtain what they want. They still run
people out of the neighborhood, of whom they do not approve.
Criminal syndicalism is the use of violence to effect political change. Much of the information in
this document comes from the associated court case file1. Penal Code 11400 Criminal
Syndicalism is defined in the court record as follows.

Criminal syndicalism" as used in this article means any doctrine or precept


advocating, teaching or aiding and abetting the commission of a crime,
sabotage (which word is hereby defined as meaning willful and malicious
physical damage or injury to physical property), or unlawful acts of force and
violence or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing a
change in industrial ownership or control or effecting any political change.

According to Wikipedia, criminal syndicalism laws were passed in the early 20 th century to
combat anarchism and communism2.
City College had expelled two students and that was the trigger for the conflict.
These crimes were committed on July 16, 1970, just slightly less than three months after
Chicano Park in Barrio Logan was seized by militant Chicano’s. One of the accused men, David
Rico, was a leader of the occupation of Chicano Park.
Rico is at this time (2018) still a member of the Chicano Park Steering Committee and the
national president of the Brown Berets of Aztlan. No reference has yet been found of the other
two men being involved in the takeover, but the Brown Berets as a group were leaders of the
takeover. If they were members at that time they most likely participated in some way.
The three men produced an insert, called “The Barrio” that was distributed in and underground
newspaper, called the San Diego Street Journal3. Calderon was the “Minister of Education” of
the Brown Berets. He was the editor of “The Barrio” insert. Rico and Calderon were co-
editors. “The Barrio” was the official publication of the Brown Berets.

2
The information they published in The Barrio was intended to incite local Chicanos and their
leftist allies to violent action against the authorities and local businessmen. Their first target
was the Education building at City College, but they also had a plan to sabotage and disrupt city
services, which would be considered acts of domestic terrorism. The quote below form “The
Barrio” was presented as evidence during the trial. Ironically, some of the revolutionary
meetings were held in the local “Our Lady of Angels” Catholic Church.

Carnales the time has come when we must stop all the bullshit and get down
to the real task for dealing with the pigs. And I mean all pigs not jsut [sic] the
ones that low-ride through the barrio in their squad cars, but the fat capitalist
punks who own the stores and businesses which exploit our people.
To start dealing with these people we are going to start printing a few handy
recipes for home-made products which can be used to off the pig. – Quote
from “The Barrio”

Carnales is Chicano slang for “brothers”. By “pigs” they refer not just to police but to store and
business owners. Some were burned out during the Chicano moratorium in 1970 in East LA.
Below is the figure explaining how to make a Molotov cocktail that appear in The Barrio insert.
It appears that the more explicit instructions have been removed from the figure in the place.

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This was the time of the anti-Vietnam war
Chicano moratorium and the three men were
inspired by unrest across the nation. There was
rioting among Chicanos in East Los Angeles, just a
couple of weeks later. Several people were killed
in the rioting during the moratorium and
businesses of outsiders were burned out. On the
right is an image of the Chicano riots in east-LA
during the Chicano moratorium.
Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales of Denver was a major
supporter of the Chicano moratorium in East LA. He openly justified the killing of policemen.
This quote is from a speech that he gave at UCLA in 1969, not long before Chicano Park was
seized and David Rico plotted to bomb City College. Mission is the “Mission District” of San
Francisco, where a group of Chicanos killed a policeman in 1969.

…and let's change our opinions and our points of view that those acts of the
people of the barrios, who have to face the chongos (police) day and night,
are acts of revolution and not criminal acts. And when there was one wiped
out in Mission that was a revolutionary act and give it some grace and give it
some pride that those young boys will go down as political revolutionary
heroes not as criminals to rot in a prison. – Corky Gonzales

Corky Gonzales was also the leading advocate of Chicano nationalism among the four founders
of the Chicano movement. One of the intended Chicano Bombers, Carlos Rede Calderon
publically expressed their goal of Chicano nationalism in this way.

We are revolutionary. We have adopted a cultural nationalism that calls for


development of the nation of Aztlan in the United States. Aztlan is described
as the one-time Aztec domain that covered Texas, New Mexico, Arizona,
Colorado and California. The Aztecs were here first and then migrated south.
The northern land is Aztlan.
The Brown Berets' objective is to try to get ownership of the land reclaimed
because the man who tills the land should own it, and most farming in the
southwest is carried out by Chicano laborers and they should own the land
and they should get it through revolution.
If there is a revolution to come, whites, Chicanos and blacks would work all
together to be able to reclaim the land. They would overthrow the
government and seize the land.

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This revolutionary, anti-American, and anti-police ideology is still in many ways being promoted
at Chicano Park, a public park, funded by the City which has also received millions of dollars of
grants from the state and federal governments. There are images of Aztlan everywhere in the
park. Compare the call for those who till the
land to own it in this mural at Chicano Park. The
translation from Spanish is
“The land belongs to those who work it with
their own hands. 1879-1919, E. Zapata”
This is quote from Mexican revolutionary
Emiliano Zapata, who redistributed the land of
large property owners to the camposinos.
Zapata has been called a communist, who never
knew Marx.
The Chicanos seized the land that is now Chicano Park and they claim to own it as they expect
one day to own all of the American southwest. For these reasons they have dedicated a statue
of Zapata I the middle of the park and call him one of their greatest heroes.
The Chicano Park Steering Committee often says that the park draws busloads of tourists.
Many of tourists, though are fans of the anti-American theme of the park or students being
indoctrinated in to the militant La Raza ideology of the park. Our tax dollars pay for this.
This image shows David Rico on the march with other Brown Berets in 1970. He not only
helped takeover what is not Chicano Park at that time, but he helped take over the building
called the “Neighborhood House” at 1809 National Avenue. The Neighborhood House was a
place that distributed social services. The Chicanos were upset that the mission of the
Neighborhood House had changed so that it was no longer dedicated to exclusively serving
Chicanos. After the occupation is became the Logan Heights Family Health Center.
At about the same time (1970) they took over the Neighborhood house the local Chicanos
occupied the Ford Building in Balboa Park. They were ejected from that building by the City
because there were plans to house the Aerospace museum there. They received the Centro
Cultural de La Raza, a water tank in Balboa Park in exchange for the Ford building.

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The Brown Berets are much older and less fit these days, but David Rico has not changed his
ideas or his rhetoric much after nearly 50 years. It may be just a little more subtle and less
direct. At the Chicano Park Day on April 23, 2016. He stated the following in the quote below
before a crowd of several thousand cheering people, chanting “Viva La Raza” and “Chicano
Power”. You can see the video of his speech at this link.

The only land that we are going to claim is this land right here. And I am
talking about Aztlan. I'm talking about California, Arizona, New Mexico and
Texas All these lands belong to us.
I know that we don't control it. Every time you have to pay your bills or pay
the landlady, whoever. You know you don't control it. Every time you get
arrested by immigration or the police department hassles you. Or, somebody
says where's your papers you know that you don't control the land.
But, anyway, it doesn't matter. This is our land! And we're going get this land
one way or another. And we're going to get it someday and the only way we
are going to get it is by unity. – (David Rico at Chicano Park Day, 2016)

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At the same Chicano Park Day, Rico said that they have to do something about Donald Trump,
who was expected to visit San Diego soon during this campaign tour. He also said they have to
do something about law enforcement and immigration, “that have killed many of us”.

Because he might become the president and we are going to suffer much. And
we are going to fight that.

Also, immigration and the police. On the 2nd of July, we are going to have a
rally here at one o'clock, July the 2nd. Write it down. July 2nd, right here at 1
o'clock

And we are going to be talking about our unity. What are we going to do
about this oppression by law enforcement that have killed many of us and
immigration, who have killed many of us, as well. – (David Rico at Chicano
Park Day, 2016)

When Trump came to town a crowd of hundreds marched from Chicano Park and assaulted the
police at the San Diego Convention Center where they were guarding the entrance. It was an
attempt to shut down Trump’s speech.
Also in July two police officers were shot by a Hispanic man nearby Chicano Park and one of
them was killed. This was at a time when policeman were being ambushed all across the nation
by sympathizers of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The shooter was a grandfather in his 50’s with no known gang affiliation but a record of auto
theft and unlawful possession of Firearm under the influence methamphetamines. No
motivation was given for the shooting. Given the lack of a motivation and calls by the national
lead of the Brown Berets to do something about law enforcement that are killing us, one can
speculate that this may have been sympathy killing of a policeman by a Chicano militant.
The Chicano Moratorium was endorsed by one for the four founders of the Chicano political
movement, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales. His advocacy of violent protest and violence against the
police is also echoed in the rhetoric of the three would-be bombers. Some of the ashes of
Corky Gonzales are spread around the Zapata statue as another Chicano hero. This is part of
the reason that Chicano’s call the park “sacred land” besides being the first part of Aztlan to be
conquered. Gonzalez openly justified the killing of policemen as a revolutionary act.
Today there is still a hostility in Chicano neighborhoods to both police and businesses owned
those they deem to be “outsiders”. In recent times, they have invited a nice word for the
discrimination against outsiders. They call it opposing “gentrification”. In late 2017, due to
threats and harassment, a young businesswoman, named Jennifer Niezgoda was forced to close
her small business and flee Barrio Logan, because the local Chicano fanatics did not think her

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fruit and juice bar was appropriate7. Those who are familiar with the neighborhood are
discouraged from starting businesses there before they start.

References
1. People vs. Calderon, Gozalves and Rico, Court Case Number CR22236 - Excerpts from the
San Diego Superior Court file posted on Scribd.
2. California Criminal Syndicalism Act - Wikipedia
3. Notes from Underground - An incendiary history of San Diego's counterculture press - San
Diego Reader
4. The Occupation of Neighborhood House - San Diego Free Press
5. Brown Berets Declare Southwest to be Aztlan – Patriot Fire YouTube Channel
6. Man accused of shooting San Diego police officers arraigned at hospital – Fox5 News
7. A Chicano Community In San Diego Is Outraged Over A White Woman’s Attempt To Open A
‘Modern Fruteria’ - WeAreMitu.com