The Resource Tulia, Texas

Tulia, Texas

Label
Tulia, Texas
Title
Tulia, Texas
Contributor
Film director
Producer
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
The story of a small town's search for justice and the price Americans pay for the war on drugs. Through its scrupulous investigation of a landmark case, Tulia, Texas uncovers the deep-rooted assumptions about race and crime that still permeate our society and undermines our justice system. The film convincingly shows how the 'war on drugs' has become a war on due process, waged against African Americans. Today America has the largest prison population in the world; in some states as much as 15 percent of the black male population is incarcerated. Tulia, Texas shows one reason why. The film tells the story from multiple points of view, presenting the evidence in the order in which it came to light, putting viewers in the same position as the jury, judging the credibility of the prosecution's case. Then, as new facts surface after the trial, the audience is forced to question its own beliefs about the criminal justice system and the disproportionate number of African Americans it convicts. Tulia appears to be a typical American small town located in the Texas Panhandle. Vacant storefronts line a Main Street straight out of the 1950's, suggesting that Tulia has been left behind by the tidal economic and cultural changes of the past fifty years. It has a small African American community, known as "Black Town", originally made up of agricultural laborers, since displaced by modernization. Many local black youth are unemployed; good jobs are still closed to them and some have turned to drugs. But it was only when drug use was perceived to have "crossed the tracks" to white neighborhoods that Tulia's civic leaders became alarmed. Here, as throughout the country, black youth became scapegoats for simmering white anxiety over social forces beyond their control and comprehension. In response to drug hysteria fanned by the media and politicians, Tulia's sheriff called in a federally trained undercover agent, Tom Coleman, to conduct a sting operation. In a July 1999 dawn raid, local law enforcement rounded up dozens of people in Tulia and threw them behind bars. Of the 46 arrested, 39 of them were black, all charged with selling Coleman cocaine. Eight were prosecuted, found guilty and sentenced to unusually stiff jail terms of twenty to ninety-nine years. The rest, fearing similar punishment, agreed to plea bargains. Most had been represented by ill-prepared court appointed attorneys; the trials were quick and perfunctory; the juries convicted based on the time-honored Texas tradition of accepting the uncorroborated testimony of a law enforcement officer as proof of guilt. And there matters would have stood had it not been for a determined group of townspeople, and a crusading Amarillo defense attorney, Jeff Blackburn, who decided to take a closer look at the evidence. He discovered numerous inconsistencies in Coleman's investigation: physical descriptions of perpetrators bore no resemblance to the actual defendants, crimes were allegedly committed on days Coleman was off-duty, and sales were reported at times when defendants were at work or out of town. As discrepancies started to leak out, the case attracted national media attention; In response, a multi-racial coalition, the "Friends of Justice," was formed in Tulia. Soon, Blackburn was joined by attorneys from the NAACP and ACLU, as well as one of the top law firms in the country. The team of lawyers helped win a hearing before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to present new evidence on behalf of several defendants. The lawyers also revealed the shocking discovery that Coleman himself had a criminal record. At the time he was working in Tulia, he was wanted on a warrant for theft in another county. The Sheriff and regional narcotics taskforce covered up the charges and put Coleman back to work. In addition to his legal entanglements, Coleman, had left several towns owing merchants thousands of dollars; one community where he had worked had asked that he be removed, while fellow officers testified that he had made frequent racist comments. How could a man with such a record be empowered to put 46 people in prison, some for what amounted to life? Tulia Texas convincingly argues this was an inevitable consequence of the mass hysteria and vigilante law enforcement whipped up by the "War on Drugs." In the waning years of the Reagan administration, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program was created to provide federal grants to special regional narcotics taskforces that partnered with local Sheriffs and police departments. Grants were renewed largely on the basis of the number of arrests, changing the strategy of law enforcement from apprehending drug kingpins to sweeps targeting low-level drug users. Undercover agents were hurriedly recruited often without background checks and sent into poor, mostly black communities. As one agent recalls, "it was all a question of numbers," a built-in mechanism for giving short shrift to due process, allowing racial stereotypes to trump reasonable doubt. As a result of the revelations about Coleman, all the defendants were eventually set free and pardoned by the Texas governor. Coleman himself was convicted of perjury, but the West Texas jury gave him only a suspended sentence. As one of the former defendants sadly observes, many white residents of Tulia will always think Coleman's targets were guilty as charged. Neither the local sheriff nor regional narcotics officials have been held accountable for hiring Coleman and robbing so many innocent people of years of their lives. The underlying prejudices and policies that made the real crimes of Tulia possible are still widespread in American society. As of 2008, despite scandals involving more than 30 taskforces, 600 operations like the one in Tulia remain. Tulia, Texas challenges viewers to question the deep ties between race, poverty and the criminal justice system in this country
Cataloging source
CaSfKAN
Characteristic
videorecording
Date time place
Originally produced by California Newsreel in 2008
Runtime
53
Technique
live action
Label
Tulia, Texas
Link
http://cuyahogalibrary.kanopystreaming.com/node/139780
Instantiates
Publication
Note
Title from title frames
Antecedent source
unknown
Carrier category
online resource
Carrier category code
cr
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Configuration of playback channels
unknown
Content category
two-dimensional moving image
Content type code
tdi
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
1kanocm01139779
Dimensions
unknown
Extent
1 online resource (1 video file, approximately 54 min.)
File format
unknown
Form of item
online
Level of compression
unknown
Media category
computer
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
c
Medium for sound
other
Other physical details
digital, .flv file, sound
Publisher number
1139779
Quality assurance targets
not applicable
Reformatting quality
unknown
Sound
sound
Sound on medium or separate
sound on medium
Specific material designation
  • other
  • remote
System details
Mode of access: World Wide Web
Video recording format
other
Label
Tulia, Texas
Link
http://cuyahogalibrary.kanopystreaming.com/node/139780
Publication
Note
Title from title frames
Antecedent source
unknown
Carrier category
online resource
Carrier category code
cr
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Configuration of playback channels
unknown
Content category
two-dimensional moving image
Content type code
tdi
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
1kanocm01139779
Dimensions
unknown
Extent
1 online resource (1 video file, approximately 54 min.)
File format
unknown
Form of item
online
Level of compression
unknown
Media category
computer
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
c
Medium for sound
other
Other physical details
digital, .flv file, sound
Publisher number
1139779
Quality assurance targets
not applicable
Reformatting quality
unknown
Sound
sound
Sound on medium or separate
sound on medium
Specific material designation
  • other
  • remote
System details
Mode of access: World Wide Web
Video recording format
other

Library Locations

  • Bay Village BranchBorrow it
    502 Cahoon Road, Bay Village, OH, 44140, US
    41.483485 -81.925143
  • Beachwood BranchBorrow it
    25501 Shaker Boulevard, Beachwood, OH, 44122, US
    41.480023 -81.497353
  • Berea BranchBorrow it
    7 Berea Commons, Berea, OH, 44017, US
    41.365417 -81.852933
  • Brecksville BranchBorrow it
    9089 Brecksville Road, Brecksville, OH, 44141, US
    41.314242 -81.625908
  • Brook Park BranchBorrow it
    6155 Engle Road, Brook Park, OH, 44142, US
    41.398961 -81.822208
  • Brooklyn BranchBorrow it
    4480 Ridge Road, Brooklyn, OH, 44144, US
    41.434584 -81.735896
  • Chagrin Falls BranchBorrow it
    100 East Orange Street, Chagrin Falls, OH, 44022, US
    41.433688 -81.389189
  • Cuyahoga County Public LibraryBorrow it
    Parma, OH, 44134, US
    41.402929 -81.697346
  • Fairview Park BranchBorrow it
    21255 Lorain Road, Fairview Park, OH, 44126, US
    41.444123 -81.855905
  • Garfield Heights BranchBorrow it
    5409 Turney Road, Garfield Heights, OH, 44125, US
    41.415980 -81.603165
  • Gates Mills BranchBorrow it
    1491 Chagrin River Road, Gates Mills, OH, 44040, US
    41.520518 -81.404415
  • Independence BranchBorrow it
    6361 Selig Drive, Independence, OH, 44131, US
    41.377420 -81.647054
  • Maple Heights BranchBorrow it
    5225 Library Lane, Maple Heights, OH, 44137, US
    41.418085 -81.569649
  • Mayfield BranchBorrow it
    500 SOM Center Road, Mayfield Village, OH, 44137, US
    41.556180 -81.440920
  • MetroHealth Service PointBorrow it
    2500 MetroHealth Drive, Cleveland, OH, 44109, US
    41.462588 -81.697468
  • Middleburg Heights BranchBorrow it
    15600 East Bagley Road, Middleburg Heights, OH, 44130, US
    41.372112 -81.807860
  • North Olmsted BranchBorrow it
    27403 Lorain Road, North Olmsted, OH, 44070, US
    41.413533 -81.924630
  • North Royalton BranchBorrow it
    5071 Wallings Road, North Royalton, OH, 44133, US
    41.331242 -81.721667
  • Olmsted Falls BranchBorrow it
    8100 Mapleway Drive, Olmsted Falls, OH, 44138, US
    41.374492 -81.910033
  • Orange BranchBorrow it
    31975 Chagrin Boulevard, Pepper Pike, OH, 44124, US
    41.459072 -81.453511
  • Parma BranchBorrow it
    6996 Powers Boulevard, Parma, OH, 44129, US
    41.383683 -81.732021
  • Parma Heights BranchBorrow it
    6206 Pearl Road, Parma Heights, OH, 44130, US
    41.393477 -81.760631
  • Parma-Snow BranchBorrow it
    2121 Snow Road, Parma, OH, 44134, US
    41.404912 -81.697401
  • Richmond Heights BranchBorrow it
    5235 Wilson Mills Road, Richmond Heights, OH, 44143, US
    41.539892 -81.491299
  • Solon BranchBorrow it
    34125 Portz Parkway, Solon, OH, 44139, US
    41.380120 -81.435601
  • South Euclid-Lyndhurst BranchBorrow it
    1876 South Green Road, South Euclid, OH, 44121, US
    41.509537 -81.520366
  • Southeast BranchBorrow it
    70 Columbus Road, Bedford, OH, 44146, US
    41.394488 -81.534121
  • Strongsville BranchBorrow it
    18700 Westwood Drive, Strongsville, OH, 44136, US
    41.316980 -81.832314
  • Warrensville Heights BranchBorrow it
    4415 Northfield Road, Warrensville Heights, OH, 44128, US
    41.441084 -81.526114
Processing Feedback ...