|WOL: What action are
you taking regarding the situation in Tulia?
Vaughn: We have just
today filed a Title Six complaint with the Justice Department Office of
Compliance. Title Six allows any individual or organization to file
discrimination complaints against any organizational entity that receives
federal funds, as Swisher County does. We are alleging discrimination
throughout the undercover investigation and subsequent prosecutions in
Tulia, and we are urging Justice to look into this. This complaint
formally asks Justice to do so.
WOL: Last week, there
were press reports that the Amarillo chapter was seeking permission from
the national NAACP to join in the ACLU lawsuit. Have you received
is still pending. We've been assembling information and transcripts
that we believe are relevant, but the process is not complete. We
do not, however, anticipate any problem getting permission. It just
takes some time.
WOL: Other than the
legal front, what else has your organization been doing about this case?
Vaughn: We've been
working with the Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice (http://www.kunstler.org),
and I want to give them some credit. Randy Credico from Kunstler
has been here for weeks to keep folks together. He's been pushing
this and promoting it across the country. And, of course, we are
working with the ACLU. We've had two rallies now, one in Amarillo
two weeks ago, where two busloads of Tulia residents came up. Last
Sunday we had a rally to counter a rally in support of law enforcement
(Ed: Randy and the Kunstler
Fund have been key mobilizers of opposition to the Rockefeller Drug Laws
in New York state.)
WOL: How did those
two rallies compare?
Vaughn: We had over
a 100 people at our rally; the pro-police rally had maybe 150-200 people,
so this is still support for this in Swisher County. I will say,
though, that our rally was more racially diverse than theirs. We
also have press conferences scheduled in Austin and Amarillo with the ACLU
and the Kunstler Fund. All the media outlets you can think of have
WOL: Are you getting
any national media attention?
ABC's 20-20 news program has been here. All I can tell you is that
a program about Tulia will air within the next two weeks.
WOL: Has Gov. Bush
Vaughn: We have been
in contact. Bush officials say they will be looking into it.
Also, when the Tulia delegation did a vigil at the state capitol, we spoke
to Speaker Laney, so the legislature is aware of it and will hopefully
be working very diligently on the case. This is a statewide problem
because to a large degree there is very little oversight or monitoring
of what goes on with these police and sheriff's departments. The
level of confidence in law enforcement has been eroding. There are
other Tulias in Texas. In many cases in these small towns, you get
a sheriff or prosecutor with no experience, no background, no temperament
for that sort of job. But they are basically left alone as long as
they keep the wrong element out of the front yards of the white community.
WOL: How does race
play into this?
Vaughn: You can say
that this is racial judicial genocide focusing on African-Americans.
If you want to eradicate a community, these days the drug war is the best
way. But there are other issues overlaying this. Word from
the black community in Tulia is that they've never had any problems with
race because it's historically been a very segmented and separate community.
But recently when young people began interracial dating, this caused tensions.
There are probably three or four dealers in Tulia and everyone knows who
they are. This guy took in the entire community.
WOL: What about the
young people in prison because of this? Are there efforts to get
them back home?
Vaughn: There is some
movement on that front, but I can't tell you more right now. We will
have an announcement on this very soon. I can say that we have had
donations of financial resources and attorneys from all over volunteering
their services to help with appeals. There will be movement on this.
-- END --
Issue #155, 10/13/00
Interview with Governor Gary Johnson | US Demands Bolivian Government Be Inflexible in Coca Negotiations | November Coalition Comes to Washington to Accept Human Rights Award | Follow That Story -- "There Are Other Tulias in Texas" -- WOL Speaks with the Amarillo NAACP | Silence of the Wolves: Drug Policy in the Bush and Gore Campaigns | New Study Shows California Leads Nation in Drug Offender Imprisonment | Department of Transportation Calls for Drug Testing Lab Investigation | Media Scan: Salon.com, PBS Frontline | The Reformer's Calendar
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