Oscar Zeta Acosta

Oscar Zeta Acosta (1935 – disappeared 1974) was an American attorney, politician, and minor novelist, perhaps best known for his friendship with the American author Hunter S. Thompson, who characterized him as his Samoan Attorney, Dr. Gonzo, in his novel ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.’ In 1967, Acosta began working as an antipoverty attorney for the East Legal Aid Society in Oakland, California. In 1968 he moved to East Los Angeles and joined the Chicano Movement as an activist attorney. His controversial defense earned him the ire of the LAPD, who considered the ‘Brown Pride’ movement more dangerous than the Black Panthers.

In the summer of 1967 Acosta met Hunter S. Thompson, who would write an article on Acosta and the injustice in the barrios of East L.A. for ‘Rolling Stone’ in 1971 titled ‘Strange Rumblings in Aztlan.’ When working on the article, Thompson and Acosta visited Las Vegas (inspiring Hunter’s later novel on the city). In 1972, Acosta disappeared while traveling in Mexico. His son, Marco Acosta, believes that he was the last person to talk to his father. In May 1972, Acosta telephoned his son, telling him that he was ‘about to board a boat full of white snow.’ Marco is later quoted in reference to his father’s disappearance: ‘The body was never found, but we surmise that probably, knowing the people he was involved with, he ended up mouthing off, getting into a fight, and getting killed.’

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