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Rodolfo 'Corky' Gonzales Branch Library fundraiser in June
Legendary Chicano Rights activist, Rodolfo 'Corky' Gonzales.

Wednesday June 18, 2014, the Denver Public Library Friends Foundation will host ‘Corky’s Corner’ at the SIE FILM CENTER, 2510 East Colfax Ave. in Denver, a fundraising event with proceeds to benefit the Rodolfo ‘Corky’ Gonzales Branch Library (located at Colfax and Irving St., currently under construction) and a sculpture of ‘Corky’.

The naming of the library had come under great scrutiny by some who considered Gonzales ‘too controversial’ and asking the Library commission to choose someone ‘less volatile’, to no avail.

VIP tickets are $50 (includes private reception from 6-7PM) and general admission tickets $10 with a screening of the legendary 1953 fight between Gonzales and Gene Smith shown from 7-9PM.

For more information contact Escuela Tlatelolco at 303-964-8993 or Charlotte Gonzales/Arturo Rodriguez, Jr. at 303-337-6181.

The late Rodolfo ‘Corky’ Gonzales, founder of the organization Crusade for Justice, led protests in the ’60s that made Denver the focal point of Chicano activism. He fought for Chicano unity, against all racism and police brutality.

Gonzales was a professional boxer (inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall-Of-Fame in 1988), a nationally renowned and published poet (him most known for the inspirational “I Am Joaquin”), known as the ‘Playwright of the Revolutionists’, a political activist and leader not only locally here in Denver but nationwide.

In the early hours of March 17, 1973, a party at an apartment building on Downing Street owned by the Crusade For Justice, turned violent after police detained a partygoer for jaywalking.

Many here in Denver solemnly remembered that event this past Monday, our younger generation sometimes unconcerned or unaware of the price many paid for the freedom they now enjoy.

A gun battle ensued and the alleged jaywalker, 20-year-old Luis ‘Junior’ Martinez, was shot to death. The shooting continued until the apartment building mysteriously exploded. Police say gunfire set off a cache of explosives, but Crusade members claimed police fired an explosive into the unit. Ultimately, 16 people were injured, including 11 police officers. Dozens of people (mostly Crusade members) were arrested.

In September 1975, Denver police arrested two men in a plot to blow up a police substation. One of the men, Juan Haro, was a Crusade member and was caught transporting the bomb. Haro was later acquitted in the bomb plot but was found guilty of bomb possession charges and served time in prison.

Gonzales was never directly implicated in either event, but he stood firm in his belief that “We are against violence," (Gonzales told the Rocky Mountain News in 1977) "but we're also a people who believe in self-defense. We don't like to see anybody maltreated. We're more apt to be recipients of violence instead of the perpetrators of it."

Stephen Johnson feature writes for BORICUA, UNTIL THE NEXT and UNDISPUTED FIGHT

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