Texas ultimately abolished its statewide system of regional drug task forces as a result of Tulia and other drug task force scandals. This movie release comes at a time when similar drug task forces nationwide are facing budget cuts that could finally put them out of business, too, but oddly their chief defenders have been among the most liberal Democrats in Congress.
TULIA, TEXAS Challenges War on Drugs
World premiere at SXSW Film Festival March 7 – 15, 2008
(Austin, Texas)--TULIA, TEXAS, a documentary film revisiting one of the biggest drug stings in Texas history, will make its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival (http://www.sxsw.com) March 7 – 15, 2008, in Austin, Texas.
In 1999, undercover narcotics officer Thomas Coleman and his drug task force rounded up and arrested dozens of residents of the small farming town of Tulia. Thirty-nine of the 46 people charged with selling cocaine to the man later heralded as “Texas Lawman of the Year” were African American. In the following years, disturbing evidence about the investigation and the police officer’s past began to surface.
Filmmakers Cassandra Herrman and Kelly Whalen visited Tulia in 2002 to discover how 46 people had been indicted on the testimony of one undercover cop. The imprisonment of more than 10 percent of Tulia’s adult black population sparked a high profile civil rights case that captured the attention of the national media. Over five years of filming, Herrman and Whalen set out to find meaning beyond the popular images in the mainstream media, developing the trust of key players on opposing sides, and gaining deeper insights into the injustices committed in Tulia.
TULIA, TEXAS tells the stories of the last remaining defendants in prison, the families and lawyers fighting for their freedom, and the sheriff, undercover agent and townspeople who stand against them. The small town's search for justice is a cautionary tale about the price American's pay for the war on drugs.
TULIA, TEXAS is a co-production of Cassandra Herrman and Kelly Whalen and the Independent Television Service. Major funding for the documentary was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
To learn more about the film and the issues, visit the film’s website at http://www.tuliatexasfilm.com. A downloadable press kit, including a documentary summary, directors’ statement, and publicity photos, is available at www.tuliatexasfilm.com/press. To request a DVD preview copy of the film, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SXSW screening times of TULIA, TEXAS (showing with Josh Brolin’s “X”):
March 8, 2008 – 2:00pm (Dobie Theatre) *Special post-screening appearance by featured characters from Tulia
March 11, 2008 – 9:30pm Dobie Theatre)
March 13, 2008 – 2:30pm (Alamo Lamar 2)
Here's hoping that the NAACP, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Heritage Foundation, or somebody who lobbies against Byrne grants in D.C. walks around the capitol to give copies of the DVD to offices of Senate Democrats (Tom Harkin, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama - I'm talking to you) whose past advocacy kept similar drug task forces alive.