Today, the conscience of the nation and the eyes of the world await the sentencing of Derek Chauvin by Judge Peter A. Cahill for the murder of George Perry Floyd. Forty-four years ago, on May 5, 1977, Jose Campos Torres died at the hands of police in Houston Texas. He was beaten by a group of police officers — twice. After the second beating, the broken body of an American citizen, of a Vietnam War veteran, was casually discarded into the river.

Two police officers were tried for his murder and found guilty-as-charged by an all-white jury. A collective sigh escaped throughout the Walker County community. Judge James Warref sentenced the two police officers to one year of probation and $1 fine. In response, the Walker County community illustrated the legal and social disregard the system holds for this nation’s disenfranchised citizens by pinning a dollar bill to their clothing whenever they went out in public.

I believe it’s crucial that we now demonstrate a serious commitment to justice with a sentence in the Derek Chauvin case commensurate with this heinous murder. The country is focused on law enforcement and community policing efforts. As a member of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Community-wide Advisory Council, I’m part of a diverse group of residents who advocate for positive change in relations, policies and laws to create a safer community for all. We engage with the sheriff to strengthen communication, generate trust, and promote understanding for a more cohesive and safe community.

— Peter Hibbett, Bakersfield