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Racist cop charged with lying in Tulia

By Mike Corwin | May 9, 2003 | Page 2

THE NARCOTICS cop responsible for the arrest of 46 people in Tulia, Texas, is a liar. That's the argument of prosecutors filing felony perjury charges against Tom Coleman, the rogue cop who spearheaded a 1999 drug sting in which 10 percent of Tulia's African American population was rounded up.

No evidence supported Coleman's accusations against those arrested. Nevertheless, 38 men and women were convicted on drug trafficking charges on the basis of his testimony.

The perjury charges against Coleman stem from contradictory statements he gave at a special hearing in Tulia last month. The hearing was commissioned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas' highest appeals court and well-known as a rubber stamp for some of the state's worst miscarriages of justice. At the hearing, the presiding judge recommended that the state high court reverse the sentences of all those convicted.

Thirteen victims of the Tulia drug sting still languish in jail--including Joseph Moore, a 61-year-old hog farmer afflicted with severe diabetes, and Kizzie White, a mother of two. The court isn't expected to rule on these cases until the fall. Prosecutors and defense attorneys say they are working on a deal for the 13 still behind bars to be released on bond.

While the exposure of Coleman's lies is a welcome development, he is only the tip of the iceberg in the racist "war on drugs" that allowed this travesty to happen. As New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote, the drug task force that Coleman worked for "squander[s] millions of dollars on amateurish investigations that snare mostly low-level offenders, and they tend to focus like lasers on people who are black or Hispanic."

Justice can't wait for these victims of the racist "war on drugs."

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