KPRC veteran reporter Phil Archer on Moody Park riots: 'It was a real wake-up call'

Reporter Phil Archer on May 5, 1978, after he was hit with a brick and stabbed during the Moody Park riots. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – At KPRC, we’re celebrating 70 years serving Houston. The station has a long and storied past, and we’re lucky to have reporters and photographers with decades of experience working in the community, including pros like Phil Archer.

Archer has been with KPRC for 42 years, and on Wednesday, he spoke with KPRC social media producer Amanda Cochran about when he was stabbed in May 1978 while covering the Moody Park riots. 


Tensions between law enforcement and local Mexican-American community flared into riots a year after the police-involved death of Jose Campos Torres, a 23-year-old Mexican-American and Vietnam War veteran. The officers responsible for Torres’ death faced only a yearlong probation and dollar fine, which sparked outrage in the community. An attempt to make an arrest after a fight broke out at the Cinco de Mayo celebration led to retaliation for Torres’ death. 

By the end of the riots on May 8, 22 people were arrested, and Archer and photographer Jack Cato were in the hospital, recovering from stab wounds. 

"It was a turning point in the city," Archer said of the riots. "Because up until that time, the Hispanic population in this city was largely ignored. … A lot of people didn’t feel – and rightly so – that they were being represented at the power levels, and I think it was a real wake-up call."



Watch the video below as Archer recalls what happened that night and how he views the incident – including what he would do differently today.


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LIVE: At #KPRC2, as we celebrate 70 years serving #Houston, we're taking a look back at some of our most memorable moments covering the area. Veteran reporter KPRC2 Phil Archer discusses when he was stabbed during the Moody Park riots in May 1978. MORE-->

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Wednesday, January 23, 2019




About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.