Tune into Independent Lens on PBS this week (February 10, 2009) for “Tulia, Texas,” a powerful film by Cassandra Herrman and Kelly Whalen about a terrible miscarriage of justice in a small West Texas town.
In 1999, undercover agent Thomas Coleman executed one of the biggest drug stings in Texas history – arresting more than 46 Tulia residents, almost all of them African American, on charges of suspected cocaine dealing in the small town of 5,000. “Tulia, Texas” tells the story of both the stories of the lawmen at the center of the controversial drug investigation and the accused they sent away to prison, with sentences ranging from 20 to 90 years. And if it hadn’t been for the multi-racial group of ordinary citizens, who later rallied under the name “Friends of Justice,” many of them still might be in jail. But after the Friends of Justice teamed up with civil rights attorneys to challenge the racial bias and abuse of power underlying the drug sting, all of the convicted defendants were exonerated.
We encourage NIOT members to organize a community screening of this important film about race and our criminal justice system, and the power of community organizing to confront institutional racism.
For local listings and PBS broadcast schedule, visit the Independent Lens site.
Download resources, discussion and facilitator guides for “Tulia, Texas” on PBS.org.