July 29, 2002
1:29 PM   Subscribe

"It is not an overstatement to describe the arrests in Tulia as an atrocity. The entire operation was the work of a single police officer who claimed to have conducted an 18-month undercover operation. The arrests were made solely on the word of this officer, Tom Coleman, a white man with a wretched work history, who routinely referred to black people as "niggers" and who frequently found himself in trouble with the law."
posted by artifex (29 comments total)
Are there any Ashcrofts from Tulia?
posted by zekinskia at 1:35 PM on July 29, 2002

This is way worse than Ashcroft.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:36 PM on July 29, 2002

More scoop here and here.
posted by shecky57 at 1:41 PM on July 29, 2002

That's brutal. Thanks for the great link, Artifex.
posted by websavvy at 1:42 PM on July 29, 2002

"The idea that people could be rounded up and sent away for what are effectively lifetime terms solely on the word of a police officer like Tom Coleman is insane."

This has broad implications. If only we'd heed them.
posted by donkeyschlong at 1:43 PM on July 29, 2002

Also, the drug war gave this bastard an excuse. Furthermore, whatever happened to political assassinations?
posted by insomnyuk at 1:44 PM on July 29, 2002

I came that close *holds forefinger and thumb one millimeter apart* to posting this last night. But, you know, it's one of those things we need to forget and get over... 'cause we're freer than we've ever been, right?
posted by y2karl at 1:54 PM on July 29, 2002

From shecky's links:
Where the drug addicts at?
Where the big houses?
Where all the gold teeth?
– Donnie Smith

The man makes a good point.
posted by ColdChef at 1:56 PM on July 29, 2002

We must find an email address for this D.A. Spam doesn't begin to cover it, but it's something to do from your desk.
posted by aeiou at 1:58 PM on July 29, 2002

Apples and oranges, karl.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:00 PM on July 29, 2002

you could write the backwater bigots from shit-stink texas at one of their churches...
posted by quonsar at 2:02 PM on July 29, 2002

There's a ton of information at the Media Awareness Project regarding this.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:08 PM on July 29, 2002

Apples and oranges, karl.

Not quite. The argument here, it seems, is whether the atrocity at Tulia is comparable to the Tuskeegee experiments. Certainly Tuskeegee was greater in scope, affecting hundreds of people. I would argue, however, that the jailing of an innocent man (sentences in Tulia were on the hundreds-of-years scale, in some cases) is a crime of similar severity to the withholding of medical services. Both crimes were committed against African Americans, and both were committed with the help of funds from the federal government. More "granny smith and fuji" than "apples and oranges", I'd say.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:14 PM on July 29, 2002

Here's the Village Voice article also.
posted by lilboo at 2:23 PM on July 29, 2002

Not comparing cases so much as pointing out that, in regards to any given example of institutionalized racism, suggesting people should just get over it and forget it is a tad premature--as well as just plain patronizing--in the light of reports like this.
posted by y2karl at 2:31 PM on July 29, 2002

Indeed it would be premature y2karl, but I don't see Faze telling anyone to 'get over it' in regards to this (dear God I'm becoming pedantic, what has this place done to me?), nor do I think he would.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:40 PM on July 29, 2002

Wow, a story that combines three of my least favorite things-- racism, the war on drugs, and small towns.

This story made me ill.  I'm glad I read it.  Thanks for the link, Artifex.
posted by nath at 2:50 PM on July 29, 2002

racism, the war on drugs, and small towns.

You left out "Texas."
posted by donkeyschlong at 2:58 PM on July 29, 2002

It honestly amazes me that this go on in any modern country.
posted by davebushe at 3:04 PM on July 29, 2002

I find it astonishing that this can go on, it reads like a chuffin novel. Thanks for the links, it has been an education.
posted by Fat Buddha at 3:07 PM on July 29, 2002

It is going to be damn tough for those people who plead guilty to get out.

There's no legal basis for them to reopen their cases; the law makes no allowance for the "I plead guilty to a crime I didn't commit to avoid a stiff sentence, now let me out" argument.

The DA would have to reopen the cases himself, in the interests of justice. I'd be interested to hear what he has to say about doing so.
posted by MattD at 3:15 PM on July 29, 2002

You left out "Texas."

Yeah, I guess you're right.  Wait... I live in Texas.  Shit!

Texas isn't all bad.  I like Houston and Austin.  I've never been to Dallas or San Antonio, but I hear they're okay.  Now if they would just get rid of all the ultra-conservative blue laws, we might be in business here.
posted by nath at 3:20 PM on July 29, 2002

Well, Texas is a little bit better with people like you in it. =)
posted by donkeyschlong at 4:04 PM on July 29, 2002

The Austin Chronicle has a great quote from a district attorney who pursued Tulia cases. In discussing one of the alleged drug dealers who could prove she was in Oklahoma City at the time she was accused of being in Tulia buying drugs, District Attorney Terry McEachern said, "She is innocent because she is proven to be innocent under our laws."

There's a motto for our times: "proven to be innocent."
posted by rcade at 5:44 PM on July 29, 2002

Is there anybody left that believes in the "innocent until proven guilty " principle ? Remember that, if you'll be called for jury service.
posted by elpapacito at 6:17 PM on July 29, 2002

Well, thanks, donkeyschlong, I appreciate the sentiment.

I just remembered a funny story one of my friends told me that you might appreciate.  But I don't want to derail the thread, so I'll tell you some other time.
posted by nath at 9:52 PM on July 29, 2002

If you're accused of a felony you did not commit, without $10,000 or so to hire an excellent defense attorney, in many cases you're only one good liar away from "going to Tulia" yourself.

I've spent years watching the criminal justice system up close, in three states, and it's been the same in each of them. This ain't a Texas thing.
posted by sacre_bleu at 12:24 PM on July 30, 2002

It honestly amazes me that this go on in any modern country.

Hmm... the Wenatchee "Sex Ring", the stories of Alvin & Debbie McCuan and Scott & Brenda Kniffen, Bernard Baran, Kelly Michaels and still more cases with real people still in prison, convicted of imaginary crimes, come to mind.

All lead back to the mother of them all--the McMartin PreSchool case.
posted by y2karl at 1:55 PM on July 30, 2002

'Lawman of the Year'

An update.
posted by y2karl at 10:52 PM on July 31, 2002

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