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The Story of Manuel Ramos

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Hello,

This article in the Movement (June 1969) covers the the murder of Manuel Ramos. Manuel was a 20 year old member of the Young Lords Organization (YLO) in Chicago, IL. On May 4th, 1969 Manuel was shot and killed by a police officer outside of the apartment of another member of the Young Lords at 2am. Another member of the Young Lords was wounded and four others were arrested. Manuel was unarmed at the time of his murder.

As the details of the case surfaced, the Chicago police department did the best they could to cover up Manuel’s murder including trying to plant a weapon into evidence and claiming in the media that a police officer had been critically wounded in the incident. Both of these were exposed as lies soon after.

Over the next weeks, in response to the police violence, cover up and lack of judicial transparency, the Rainbow Coalition [Black Panther Party; Young Lords Organization and Young Patriots Organization] and community members organized numerous protests and a funeral attended by several hundred people. These protests culminated in the takeover of McCormick Seminary.

On May 15th, the Young Lords, supported by Panthers, Patriots, SDS and McCormick Seminary students seized the brand new W. Clement Stone Academic-Administration Building and renamed it the Manuel Ramos Memorial Building. McCormick Seminary is located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago and although it maintained a liberal facade, it restricted community members from entering its property (community members had to walk several blocks around the seminary to get to a shopping strip), using its playground, enjoying its ample green space, or using its library. W. Clement Stone was also Richard Nixon’s largest contributor, further exemplifying the institutions’ detachment from the community.

The Young Lords presented 10 demands to the administration at McCormick Seminary. With support and material assistance being supplied by community member coalition allies, the YLO stayed in the Manuel Ramos Memorial Building for a full week despite constant threats of physical eviction by the police. By the end of the week, the administration had agreed to all of the Young Lords’ demands including pledging nearly $700,000 (and institutional support) for the creation of a low-income housing development, a children’s center, and a Puerto Rican cultural center. Unfortunately, it is unclear how much of the money pledged by McCormick leaders was actually delivered. In the fall of 1969 the YLO claimed in their newspaper that “McCormick still wasn’t coming through.”

The mobilizations around the murder of Manuel Ramos demonstrate not only the decisive and effective actions taken by the Young Lords Organization (Chicago) but also the importance of cross class and cross racial organizing in achieving ones’ demands.

-Laura

 

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