Houston Has Its Own History of Race Riots

Categories: Houston 101

TSU Riots (1967)

Even those of us too young to have been around for the sixties are familiar with the general unrest of that decade. Brought on by racial tensions throughout the south. Houston was not immune to the violent protests that seemed commonplace across America. Unfortunately, these particular riots on the campus of Texas Southern University on May 17, 1967 were the result of misinformation rather than injustice.

A rumor spread across campus that a six-year-old black child had been killed by police. Turns out it was a white boy who shot and wounded another white child. Students began to gather and chant, but it escalated when someone in the crowd allegedly through something at a police car. Then, a shot was fired at a cop car. After that, a full-blown panic ensued and a hostile standoff with police resulted in the death of one officer and the wounding of one students and two other cops. All over something that didn't actually happen.

Moody Park Riots (1978)

Houston's most recent racially-motivated riots came 36 years ago after the brutal beating death of Vietnam veteran Joe Campos Torres at the hands of Houston police. After his body was found floating in Buffalo Bayou, what began as a party in the east side park soon devolved into fights and car fires.

The riots spread across 18 blocks around the park and 15 people were injured including former news reporter Jack Cato. Two of the police officers responsible for Torres's death were eventually convicted of negligent homicide and the riots led to sweeping changes inside HPD.

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