Luis “Junior” Martínez: Martyr of the Chicano Movement (March 17, 1973)

Luis “Junior” Martínez (August 21, 1952-March 17, 1973) - photo by Dino Castro

Luis “Junior” Martínez (August 21, 1952-March 17, 1973) – photo by Dino Castro

Luis “Junior” Martínez was born on August 21, 1952 to Luis and Anne Martínez. Luis was one of the younger activists who gave hope to the older activists for his commitment to the movement.

Luis was a founding member of Denver’s Northside Black Berets in 1969. A Chicano revolutionary nationalist, Junior was also a member of the Crusade for Justice. Junior was an accomplished dancer and was a leading member of the Ballet Folklorico de Aztlán.

On March 17, 1973, at the age of 20, Luis was assassinated by the Denver police. The Denver police with assistance from federal law-enforcement agencies had the Crusade for Justice under intense surveillance.

As a result, the Denver police raided and attacked members of the Crusade for Justice at the group’s Downing Street headquarters in what is known as the “March 17th Confrontation” or the “Saint Patrick’s Day Incident.”

In the ensuing police assault, several Chicanos were shot and wounded. Over 60 people were arrested and many were also beaten.

Meanwhile, the building of the Crusade for Justice was destroyed by a bomb explosion. It is believed that the Denver police set-off an explosive device into the apartment’s second-floor window.

Immediately, Denver city-officials declared the damaged building structure dangerous, and sent a wrecking crew to demolish it making it difficult to determine the cause of the explosion.

In The Crusade for Justice: Chicano Militancy and the Government’s War on Dissent by Ernesto Vigil has theorized from the acquisition of FBI files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that the Denver police assault was coordinated by the FBI and was sparked by the Crusade for Justice’s support for the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee February of 1973.

Luis “Junior” Martínez is forever remembered for his commitment to the Chicano revolutionary struggle for self-determination and is one of the martyrs of the Chicano Movement.


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