Local Bands Remember Infamous Joe Campos Torres Case

Categories: Listen Up!
Photo courtesy of Fuska
Richard Molina, center, and members of Fuska
This Saturday night, a half-dozen bands, their fans and friends will gather at Taqueria La Macro on North Main for a remembrance of one of Houston's most significant historical moments of the last 50 years. The event is simply billed as "Remembering Joe Campos Torres."

This week in 1977, Torres, a Vietnam veteran, was murdered by members of the Houston Police Department. His death and the laughable sentences for the convicted cops -- a year's probation and a $1 fine for each of the principal officers involved -- prompted the infamous Moody Park rebellion a year later.

It also prompted changes in the way HPD conducted its business, as the department's internal-affairs division grew from these events. It bred a new generation of eagle-eyed activists, many from the city's emerging Chicano population.

Those positive results from something so horrific should be noticed, so the Jose Campos Torres Action Group formed to raise funds for a marker to recall these significant events. Saturday's show is part of the fundraising effort.

Fuska, Gods of Death Screw, Gutterrats, Idiginis, Loc D and Angel Campos are all slated to perform, beginning at 6 p.m. For some of these musicians, the event isn't just a fundraiser. As relatives of Torres, thier interest is much more personal.

"Joe Campos Torres is my uncle, my mom's brother," says Fuska keyboardist Richard Molina, a central figure of the action group who notes Angel Campos and Loc D are also related to Torres. "This event will always have a lasting impact on my family. Before anything, this was their family. Their blood. My Uncle Joe was like a father figure to the rest of the family and when that happened to him in the brutal way that it did, it changed everything.

"It ruined a lot, especially for my grandmother and my Uncle Ray," he adds. "To this day my grandmother still can't bring herself to talk about that event."

Molina and many of the musicians taking part in Saturday's show weren't even born when Torres was beaten by a half-dozen officers at a secluded area which became known as "The Hole," before being thrown into Buffalo Bayou to drown; I was just a kid then myself. To this day, I vividly recall my own dad's furor and anxiety, hearing about the killing and the verdicts. It was discomforting to us all to see something like that happen to someone so much like us, and all at the hands of those we'd entrusted to protect us.

Those might be negative connotations, but Molina thinks it's time to embrace the plusses that sprung from that time.

Story continues on the next page.

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I was 11 years old when the riots occurred.  Our house was directly behind the old Fiesta that was set on fire that night.  I remember being scared and worried our house was going to catch on fire too, but I never understood why or what had happened to cause the melee outside.  The morning after, my neighborhood resembled a war zone.  


@wordlover  I was roughly the same age, friend. It'll be interesting to hear the recollections of folks our age at tonight's show. And exciting to talk with younger people who are making it their objective to stand up to injustice. 

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