Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town

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PublicAffairs, Sep 26, 2005 - History - 450 pages
In the summer of 1999, in the tiny west Texas town of Tulia, thirty-nine people, almost all of them black, were arrested and charged with dealing powdered cocaine. The operation, a federally-funded investigation performed in cooperation with the local authorities, was based on the work of one notoriously unreliable undercover officer. At trial, the prosecution relied almost solely on the uncorroborated, and contradictory, testimony of that officer, Tom Coleman. Despite the flimsiness of the evidence against them, virtually all of the defendants were convicted and given sentences as high as ninety-nine years. Tom Coleman was named a Texas Lawman of the Year for his work.

Tulia is the story of this town, the bust, the trials, and the heroic legal battle that ultimately led to the reversal of the convictions in the summer of 2003. Laws have been changed in Texas as a result of the scandal, and the defendants have earned a measure of bittersweet redemption. But the story is much bigger than the tale of just one bust. As Tulia makes clear, these events are the latest chapter in a story with themes as old as the country itself. It is a gripping, marvelously well-told tale about injustice, race, poverty, hysteria, and desperation in rural America.

 

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User Review  - santhony - LibraryThing

Coming from a small South Arkansas town, I had mixed emotions reading this book. As a licensed attorney, the obvious abuses of criminal and constitutional law are indeed disturbing. I am not without ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dchaikin - LibraryThing

The author wrote the Texas Observer article that broke this story open. (A large percentage of the black population of a small Texas town was arrested, and many were convicted, for dealing in illegal ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue March 20 2003
3
CHAPTER ONE Busted
17
CHAPTER THREE Booties Empire
43
CHAPTER FOUR The Mayor of Vigo
60
CHAPTER FIVE Deep Cover
77
CHAPTER s1x Officer of the Year
95
CHAPTER SEVEN Donnie Smith
106
CHAPTER EIGHT Freddie Brookins Jr
138
CHAPTER TWELVE Sin and Redemption
215
CHAPTER THIRTEEN East MeetS West
233
CHAPTER FOURTEEN Doing Time
252
CHAPTER FIFTEEN The Tide Turns
266
CHAPTER SIXTEEN The Dream Team
281
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN The Hearing
314
Epilogue Summer 2005
399
Appendix
409

CHAPTER NINE One Riot One Ranger
158
CHAPTER TEN Black Cards and White Cards
181
CHAPTER ELEVEN The Jump Out Boys
201
Notes
419
Acknowledgments
435
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About the author (2005)

Nate Blakeslee, a former editor of the Texas Observer, broke the Tulia story for the Observer in 2000. It was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. In 2004, he won the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award for his drug war reporting. Blakeslee's work has also appeared in Texas Monthly and The Nation. He is a Soros Justice Media Fellow. Born and raised in Texas, he lives in Austin.

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