The Young Lords was a Chicago-based flamboyant revolutionary group that emerged in 1959. The group comprised mainly of street-gang-turned-activists drawn from the second generation Puerto Ricans. Between 1950 and 1960, many Puerto Ricans migrated to Chicago in search of better economic prospects (Jeffries, 2003). As immigrants, they lived in most run-down sections of the city. They were less skilled, and it was hard for them to find jobs. Even those who got jobs were underpaid besides working under dirty and unsafe working environment. Also, Puerto Ricans were discriminated both at work and in their residential areas by the city council. Police could shoot and kill them innocently. The Puerto Rican youths were fed up with the discrimination and mistreatment of their tribesmen and women, and inspired by the Black Panthers, they rose up to form the Young Lords movement to gain social justice for their community members.
In their strategies to press for human rights, Young Lords engaged in several offensive actions aimed at drawing the government's attention to their grievances. One such offense was the "garbage offensive" in East Harlem, the Barrio on August 17, 1969 (Falion, 2012). Young Lords had expanded into the New York City, and they had offices at Harlem. They realized that members of their community living in the area were confronted with the problem of sprinkled rotting garbage which had not been collected by the city council. The party wrote to the city council requesting them to issue brooms, and trash cans for cleaning the council ignored the request. The city council did not clean the streets either. Finally, the Young Lords mobilized the community to dump all the garbage at street 111th and Lexington Avenue while at the same time turning over several abandoned vehicles and setting them afire (Falion, 2012).
The "garbage offensive" rebellion against the city council was a clean success to the Young Lords. It became an avenue to increase their street actions and activism as they barricaded main avenues within the city to attract attention to the problems of Puerto Ricans. Eventually, the city authorities took action to clean the streets and the entire community. The Puerto Rican youths were especially from the New York City College were recruited by the city council authority to work alongside the city council workers in maintaining cleanliness in the community. The Young Lords party had successfully demanded freedom from an offensive authority through their activist actions (Falion, 2012). Also, the act of mobilizing the people to stand up to the status quo helped the party enhance social and political autonomy which was a great achievement towards the ends of the party. It was from the oppressive act that the Young Lords gained support from the oppressed members of the Puerto Rican descent as they saw the light at the end of the tunnel through the party activism.
The Young Lords was a social justice activist movement that actively engaged the government authorities to address the issues that affected Puerto Rican community members. They employed offensive approaches which did not only successfully pinned the government authorities to address their grievances but also enhanced their social and political autonomy. The oppressive actions became landmarks that raised their voice and pulled the government into recognizing the Puerto Rican citizens and observing their human rights.
Jeffries, J. (2003). From gang-bangers to urban revolutionaries: The Young Lords of Chicago. Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1998-), 96(3), 288-304.
Falion, A. W. (2012). Pa'lante: The Direct Action Campaigns of the Young Lords Party. University of Vermont: Honors College Thesis
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