The Brown Berets “invaded” Catalina Island beginning on August 30, 1972. Prior to the “invasion” of Catalina Island, the event was referred to as Project Tecolote by the Brown Berets. The island had been under observation for two years where it was discovered that about 400 Chicanas/os lived on the island mainly living on Tremont Street just outside of Avalon.
It was estimated that the “invasion” would cost anywhere between $700-$900. Using a small plane and a boat, twenty-six Brown Berets headed to Catalina Island.
At about 9:30am on August 30, 1972, a large 9×7 Mexican flag was raised and Campo Tecolote was declared a free and sovereign land for all Chicanas/os-Mexicanas/os.
David Sánchez, Prime Minister of the Brown Berets, read a prepared statement that read in part:
The occupation plan is also to protest the bad living conditions for people of Mexican descent who are living in the United States.
Many Chicanas/os sent their support to the group, however, the San Pedro chapter of the Brown Berets refused to respond. The Brown Beret organization had been infiltrated by this point and a power struggle ensued.
On September 23, 1972, forty deputies from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB Riot Squad) moved in to remove and arrest, if necessary, the Brown Berets from the camp. The occupation was over after twenty-four days.
All the Brown Beret members were removed from the camp and sent back to the mainland, except for two: Jeronimo Blanco and his wife María Blanco who were left behind.
The above photo was taken in September 1972 at Campo Tecolote.