Today Fresno hosts the second of four Office of National Drug Control
Policy-sponsored summits on student drug testing.
In January, in his State of the Union address, President Bush credited
recent declines in illegal drug use among teenagers to random drug
testing. He then proposed $23 million go to schools opting to use what
national drug czar John Walters touts a "silver bullet" and Mayor Alan
Autry has vigorously supported.
I will be in Fresno for the summit today, along with other parents,
because I hope there will be room in these gatherings for real
discussion, even debate, about this well-meaning but wrongheaded
approach to drug abuse prevention. As a research scientist and drug
educator, I believe these proposals are based on false premises and
[continues 653 words]
Through all the painful details of Amarillo paying $5 million to settle a
lawsuit over the Tulia drug sting of 1999, one vital point appears to have
eluded many city officials.
Somebody has to be responsible.
This cannot be swept under the nearest rug, simply by writing a $5 million
check and hearing attorney Jeff Blackburn say how admirable Amarillo's
It's not just a bad dream that will go away, simply because Amarillo agreed
to effectively shut down the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task
[continues 678 words]
TULIA - Tulia residents want to go on with their lives. They want to go to
church, go to work and go to school without negative clouds of public
opinion hovering overhead.
Even after hearing the news of a $5 million settlement by the city of
Amarillo related to the tainted 1999 drug bust in their town, they're
worried their opinions could add lightning to the storm.
"I don't want my kids getting beat up at school," said Brenda Raymond of
Tulia, explaining why she wouldn't comment further.
[continues 290 words]
It will cost Amarillo $5 million to avoid a costly trial and
potentially overwhelming payments to former defendants in the Tulia
drug cases. The $5 million payment will come from two sources: the
city's self-insurance fund, which has a $14.6 million balance, and
money seized by the task force, of which the city has access to
between $2 million and $3 million, said City Manager John Ward.
The proportions from each source will be determined later, Ward
[continues 244 words]
Amarillo's $5 million settlement with the victims of the infamous 1999
Tulia drug sting likely will be the end of the Panhandle Regional
Narcotics Task Force. Amarillo, the lead agency for the PRNTF, will
end its association with the task force May 31. Considering the steep
price Amarillo had to pay for what happened in Tulia under the
auspices of the PRNTF, few can blame the city. However, the inevitable
demise of the PRNTF is a classic case of throwing out the baby with
the bath water.
[continues 315 words]
The future of Texas Panhandle drug task force operations remained
murky Thursday in the wake of a lawsuit settlement that guts the Texas
Panhandle Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force.
But some members of the task force's board of governors said they
expect the board to meet and discuss the settlement's
City Manager John Ward said the city of Amarillo will no longer be the
agency sponsoring the task force.
"This will be our last year. It will end in May," he said. "We will
then have our own narcotics enforcement section of the police
department. It will take care of Amarillo. As far as the task force, I
don't know what happens to it."
[continues 570 words]
Even though they will divide a $5 million settlement among themselves,
the dozens of residents in Tulia, Texas, who were humiliated at the
hands of law enforcement are unlikely to ever forget their unjust treatment.
Nor should the rest of the country forget. In 1999, about 10 percent
of the roughly 400 black residents in Tulia were rounded up and
arrested for allegedly distributing drugs. Though the 46-person
roundup also included seven Tulia residents who were not black, the
arresting officer's admission under oath that he routinely referred to
black people as "niggers" makes it impossible to ignore the racial
[continues 179 words]
City Paying $5 Million, Agrees to Dissolve Force That Made False Arrests
AMARILLO, Texas - More than 40 people snared in a now-discredited drug
sting in the Texas Panhandle town of Tulia will share $5 million as part of
a settlement, an attorney for the plaintiffs said.
The agreement with the nearby city of Amarillo, announced Wednesday, also
ends the multiagency task force that ran the sting operation. It was
cheered by the NAACP and attorneys representing those arrested in what many
believe was a racially motivated operation.
[continues 471 words]
Amarillo, Texas, Will Pay $5 Million to the 45 People Wrongly Jailed in a
Raid in Nearby Tulia.
Victims of a discredited 1999 drug sting in the Texas panhandle town of
Tulia will receive a $5-million settlement from the nearby city of
Amarillo, attorneys announced Thursday.
Two women who were swept up in the early morning raid, which civil rights
groups said was racially motivated, brought a lawsuit last year. Amarillo -
the lead city in the regional narcotics task force involved - is the first
government entity to settle. The money will be divided among 45 people - 37
of them black - who were wrongly arrested. Thirty-five of those convicted
later were pardoned by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
[continues 454 words]
Five years after 46 people, almost all of them black, were arrested on
fabricated drug charges in Tulia, Tex., their ordeal will draw to a
close today with the announcement of a $5 million settlement in their
civil suit and the disbandment of a federally financed 26-county
narcotics task force responsible for the arrests.
The case attracted national attention because the number of people
charged literally decimated the small town's black population. It also
gained notice because the arrests were entirely based on the work of
an undercover narcotics agent who has been accused of racism and
perjury. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas pardoned the Tulia defendants in
August, after a court hearing last March exonerated them.
[continues 788 words]
Basketball fans were in mourning in the summer of 1986.
College star Len Bias, recently drafted by the Boston Celtics, was
dead from a cocaine overdose.
The fallout from Bias' death encouraged legislators to pass the
Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which set mandatory minimum sentences in
drug cases and made funds available for local agencies to fight drugs.
In this get-tough-on-drugs climate, Panhandle Regional Narcotics
Trafficking Task Force was born.
Funded by federal and state grant money - as well as money from
seizures in drug cases - the organization responds to calls from area
law-enforcement agencies. Task force agents work undercover, help
serve search and arrest warrants, and provide backup for local agencies.
[continues 767 words]
45 Ex-Defendants to Split Award in Race Bias Case Against Task Force
Five years after 46 people, almost all of them black, were arrested
in a now discredited drug bust in Tulia, Tex., authorities plan to
announce a $5 million settlement in a suit and the disbandment of a
federally financed 26-county narcotics task force responsible for the
The case attracted national attention because most of those arrested
were black and because the arrests were entirely based entirely on the
work of an undercover narcotics agent who has been accused of racism
and perjury. A court hearing last March exonerated the defendants and
Gov. Rick Perry pardoned them.
[continues 620 words]
Q: Who will pay the $5 million, the city or an insurance company?
A: Amarillo is self-insured. The city pays departmental premiums into
a fund that also collects interest. The city will pay the settlement
partially with the insurance fund, currently holding $14.6 million,
and partially with seized task force funds, of which the city has
access to between $2 million to $3 million.
Q: How much money will each individual receive?
A: The amount is unknown right now. A claims administrator will
determine each person's share, based on a formula that has yet to be
[continues 212 words]
AMARILLO (AP)- Plaintiffs in a civil-rights lawsuit settled for $5 million
involving a now-discredited drug bust accomplished their goal of
dismantling the task force they say targeted blacks, the attorney for the
two women who filed the lawsuit said today.
"There's no amount of money that could ever compensate the people in
Tulia," said attorney Jeff Blackburn at a news conference announcing the
settlement. "In our view this was a whole systemic failure."
The agreement with the city of Amarillo disbands the multi-agency task
force that oversaw the sting's undercover agent, Tom Coleman, who is white,
[continues 687 words]
Shoddy police work and a flawed system that didn't let the city control the
task force it headed have brought about Amarillo's $5-million payment to
former Tulia drug defendants, officials said Thursday.
The Amarillo Police Department was the lead agency for the Panhandle
Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force, for which discredited agent Tom
Coleman operated in Swisher County.
Coleman faces perjury charges for testimony he provided in the 1999 Tulia
drug case that led to the arrest of 46 defendants - 39 of whom were black -
and imprisonment of 35, all of whom were later pardoned. The defendants
sued Amarillo for its involvement in the task force they say violated their
[continues 756 words]
The road has spanned five years and countless miles, but the 46 people
arrested in the controversial 1999 Tulia drug sting took a major step
Thursday toward the end of their journey.
The news that the city of Amarillo would settle with the Tulia
defendants for $5 million and the dissolution of the task force that
conducted the sting was met with a combination of joy and
introspection by people finally nearing their objective - justice.
"I'm feeling great," said Michelle Williams, who missed three years of
her children's lives while in prison. "I'm kind of excited. I guess
you could say I'm glad and proud that it's over with. This can't make
up for all they took from us, but it's something to be proud of."
[continues 988 words]
(AP) - A settlement has been reached that will spread $5 million among
Tulia residents who were targeted in a now-discredited drug bust that many
said was racially motivated, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs said
The agreement with the city of Amarillo also would disband the task force
that oversaw the sting's undercover agent. Details were to be released
today in a news conference in Amarillo.
"The settlement that was reached is truly historic," lawyer Jeff Blackburn
told The Associated Press. "It represents the first example of a
responsible city government putting an end to irresponsible task force
system of narcotics enforcement.
[continues 134 words]
LUBBOCK, Texas - More than 40 people snared in a now-discredited drug
sting in the Texas Panhandle town of Tulia will share $5 million as
part of a settlement, an attorney for the plaintiffs said. The
agreement with the nearby city of Amarillo, announced Wednesday, also
ends the multiagency task force that ran the sting operation. It was
cheered by the NAACP and attorneys representing those arrested in what
many believe was a racially motivated operation.
"The settlement that was reached is truly historic," attorney Jeff
Blackburn told The Associated Press. "It represents the first example
of a responsible city government putting an end to irresponsible task
force system of narcotics enforcement."
[continues 439 words]
Both sides involved in a federal lawsuit filed over the controversial
1999 Tulia drug sting are participating in settlement negotiations,
and sources close to the talks say a deal is near. Potter County
Commissioners Court on Monday became the first of about 40 entities
named in the suit to vote for settlement, but sources say the final
agreement likely will involve all the defendants in a mass settlement.
"We're still working on a deal with the plaintiffs' lawyers," said
Scott Brumley, assistant Potter County attorney. "We've tentatively
struck a deal, but until the ink's dry on the document, we can't
release any details."
[continues 429 words]
Halle Berry is facing competition from Oscar-nominated actress Alfre
Woodard - after both stars signed up to headline rival movies based on
an infamous 1999 drug bust. Berry, who won an Academy Award for her
role in Monster's Ball, will play a real-life lawyer in Tulia, based
on an incident in Texas when officials arrested 10 per cent of the
black population and found neither narcotics nor cash.
But Berry's movie isn't due to start shooting for another two
Meanwhile, Woodard is being lined up to star in CBS TV movie Tulia,
Texas in which she'll play mother Mattie White, who saw four of her