A description of the new exhibit posted by the Bronx Museum calls the Young Lords “radical social activists” who “demanded reform in health care, education, housing, employment and policing.”
“Demanded” is the key word.
In late 1969, the Young Lords nailed shut the doors of the First Spanish Methodist Church on Lexington Ave. and East 111th St. The congregation had resisted the group’s efforts to open a free breakfast program. Tired of negotiating, the Lords simply took over the building and occupied it for 11 days.
But that was small potatoes compared to what came next. In 1970, 25 Young Lords invaded Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx and demanded to be allowed to open a drug-treatment center. The hospital administrators caved, and the resulting clinic — Lincoln Detox — became the Young Lords’ base of operations.
“From the beginning it was like no other clinic in New York,” writes Bryan Burrough in “Days of Rage,” his excellent new history of 1970s underground movements. “Lincoln Detox drew many of its volunteers and paid staffers from the ranks of New York’s militant leftists.”
Funded by government grants, Lincoln Detox became a far-left fever swamp. Weather Underground mastermind Bernadine Dohrn’s sister, Jennifer, worked there and married Mickey Melendez, one of the Young Lords’ founders. Volunteers from groups like Weather festooned Lincoln Detox’s offices with posters of their heroes: Che Guevara, Malcolm X and cop-killer Joanne Chesimard.
What they didn’t do was help people kick drugs. Addicts were counseled to redirect their passion for drugs into revolution...