Remembrance held for man killed by cops

May 6, 2008 12:26:41 PM PDT
In May of 1978 anger over the death of a Hispanic man at the hands of Houston police led to riots in Moody Park. Fifteen people were injured in the melee, sparked by Jose Campos Torres' death.This marks a sad and frightening time in Houston history. Jose Campos Torres, 23, was found dead and handcuffed along Buffalo Bayou 31 years ago.

He'd been fatally attacked by two police officers on May 6, 1977. There were reports that Torres was intoxicated and belligerent when the two officers stopped him that day.

But a year later during trial, the officers received lesser sentences of negligent homicide. That set off a huge riot at Moody Park. Several people were hurt, some stabbed by the crowd which was violently angered by the officer's light convictions.

The organizers of the memorial, the American GI Forum/Houston Chapter, say despite the riots, Torres' death galvanized the Hispanic community and led to improvements for the lives for people of color.

"It's a remembrance of his death -- brutal, deplorable and painful -- especially when you are a veteran yourself," said Johnny Mata with American GI Forum. "So it's a collaboration of his life but so he wouldn't have died in vain, we continue to work in the criminal justice system to improve conditions for all."

This memorial picks up again tonight. The forum plans to show a documentary about the Torres death and resulting riots.

The film is called "A Long Journey Toward Justice." It will take place at the Latino Learning Center on Polk Street at 7pm.

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