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Chicano Nationalism: The Brown Berets and Legal Social Control

Correa, Jennifer G.

The purpose of this study was to examine the legal social control strategies and tactics that were used by law enforcement officials at the local, state, and federal level to suppress a faction of the Chicano Movement known as the Brown Berets. The movement was made up of high school and college students, non-students, and youths. The goal of the movement was to enhance the position of Mexican-Americans in the areas of education, economics, and politics. Initially, the Brown Berets began assisting with mayoral and school board elections. Ultimately, the Brown Berets became radicalized in orientation. The Brown Berets began to address many community concerns such as police brutality and harassment. As the group gained visibility and notoriety, they also became a prime target for police. The movement experienced violence, infiltration, and surveillance at the hands of law enforcement officials. The Brown Berets disbanded in 1973. This research project utilized a qualitative methodological approach. The research methods included telephone interviews with activists/scholars, document analysis of local newspapers and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Brown Beret file. Finally, I conducted a historiography of several books in Mexican-American history depicting instances of legal social control.