Houston to erect memorial for Latino vet killed by police in 1977
The city of Houston and the family of a Mexican American Vietnam War veteran beaten to death by police in May 1977 — a killing that sparked a deadly riot and ushered in police reforms — have agreed on a memorial.
Why it matters: The planned memorial for Joe Campos Torres comes as cities across the U.S. face a reckoning on systemic racism and confront past cases of police violence against communities of color.
- Richard Molina, Torres' nephew, told Axios the family has been waiting more than 40 years for the city to formally acknowledge what happened to his uncle.
Details: Mayor Sylvester Turner and Torres’ family came to terms on a memorial last month.
- Under one proposal, a plaza near the site of Torres' killing would be named after him. Another calls for the creation of a walkway along the Buffalo Bayou, where Torres' body was found.
Flashback: Torres, 23, was arrested at a bar on May 5, 1977, for disorderly conduct. But instead of taking him to a jail, officers took Campos to an isolated area behind a warehouse along the Buffalo Bayou where they beat him and eventually threw his body into the water.
- Initially, only two officers were charged with murder. An all-white jury found them guilty of negligent homicide — a misdemeanor — and sentenced the officers to a year's probation and a $1 fine.
- A year later, on Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican American community of Houston's Northside erupted in riots at Moody Park along the Buffalo Bayou.
- "A Chicano's life is only worth a dollar!" protesters chanted.