DPFT-Austin meetings are held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month 

The July and August meetings have been cancled. 
Next meeting
September 19 
Location  TBA


Never Again! Rally News

The Lindesmith Center-DPF Conference


Hyatt Regency
Albuquerque, NM

May 30-June 2, 2001



THC Monthly Vigil


Tulia & Tulia links

3/22 Dallas Observer 



Friends of Justice

Austin Daze



Hemp Advocates of Texas

MAMA  (Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse)


Judge Gray

HB 513


Karen Heikkala,
Regional Director

Trish Taylor,

Houston DPFT

Tulia Freedom Ride and Never Again! Rally

 Late in the evening of Saturday, July 21, about 75 Austin activists and others from across the country boarded two charter buses for a 10-hour ride to the small panhandle town of Tulia.  Located between Lubbock and Amarillo, Tulia is the site of the 1999 drug sting that resulted in the arrests of 43 persons. The majority of those arrested were African-American; the rest had connections with the African-American community.  Although there were no drugs or large amounts of cash found, and there was no proof that any drug dealing occurred, twenty of those persons still remain in prison, most serving sentences of 25 to 99 years.  One received a mind-boggling 342 years.  The Rally, organized by the Friends of Justice, was held to observe the second anniversary of the drug sting and to show solidarity with those arrested and their families. 

 The Freedom Ride was organized by Texas Network of Reform Groups and included members of numerous Austin human rights organizations and other social activists from around the country.  The riders made two stops before reaching Tulia.  The first at Lubbock's Maxey Park was a pleasant morning outing with breakfast, a birthday party for one of the participants, water gun fights, and music. After a meeting where several people spoke of their personal reasons for coming on the ride, reporters and TV newspeople arrived for a press conference. 

 Next the riders headed to Plainview to the J.B. Wheeler Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility.  There they held a November Coalition-style vigil with signs and banners protesting the Drug War.  Some riders were able to distribute literature to families and friends who were there visiting prisoners.  More news media arrived, including a reporter and photographer from the Associated Press.

 The buses reached Tulia about 4:00 and the Freedom Riders were treated to a snack provided by the Tulia based Friends of Justice.   Although the temperature was over 100?, the atmosphere in Conner Park was joyful as the Austin folks visited with Tulia residents and waited for the Rally to begin.  The Amarillo NAACP brought a large barbecue pit and cooked hot dogs and hamburgers for the crowd, even providing vegetarian varieties for those who wanted them. 

 The Rally began at 6:00 with a song by about 20 children who have parents in prison because of the drug sting.  For the next five hours the crowd heard more music, poetry, and talks by drug policy reformers and religious speakers from all around the country.  The program culminated at midnight with a moving speech by Rev. Edwin Sanders of Nashville, TN.  Then about 250 people singing "We Shall Overcome" marched from the park to the Swisher County courthouse for a candlelight vigil. Watched over by 35 law enforcement units, including Texas Rangers, DPS, and county and city officers, the event went off peacefully and without incident. 

 The Texas Network of Reform Groups was able to deliver a large quantity of school supplies and five computers to the Tulia children affected by the drug sting.  Everyone in attendance came away empowered and with the renewed determination that Drug War racism will happen "Never Again! Not in Tulia. Not anywhere." 


Austin American Statesman Editorial 
Sunday May 6, 2001

Drug war needs a new direction

  Has the drug war made the nation's substance-abuse problem better than five yearsago? Asked by a visiting drug-policy reformer to raise hands if
they thought so, a local crowd didn't move a muscle.

  That's the response wherever he speaks, said California Superior Court Judge James Gray, a self-labeled conservative Republican doing battle with the drug war's most obvious follies. He finds a clear message in the silence.

  For 30 years, the nation has ineptly warred against substance abuse, only to watch the problem explode. Drugs have never been cheaper, stronger or more readily available. Gray says the average teen-ager can buy a pharmacopia of illegal drugs more easily than a six-pack of beer. Missionaries have become "collateral damage" in battles fought over Peru. Colombia and Mexico writhe in the throes of what Gray calls their "drug money problem." And just when  you think it can't get worse, it gets worse.

  As Gray spoke in Austin to the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, the Bush administration was searching for a drug czar to replace Gen. Barry McCaffrey. The rumored choice is John Walters, a drug warrior from the previous Bush presidency.

  Walters is an old-school hard-liner. He unabashedly favors military solutions over therapeutic ones, opposes aid for infection-containment measures such as needle exchanges and thinks the costly drug war has suffered from"indifference and neglect." He contends that the battle he once knew has transmogrified into "a war on punishment and prisons."

  Reformers like Gray, and others who advocate digging at root causes of drug use, draw sneers from Walters. "The therapy-only lobby is alive and well and more dogmatic than ever," wrote Walters, a former deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He now heads the Philanthropic Foundation, a group devoted to private-sector stimulation of voluntary action against social problems.

  Gray's solutions, based largely on research done in Europe and by the Rand research group, are likely to sound sensible to many and find little favor with Walters. The approach he outlined at the Hyatt Regency late last month focused on three points:

  * Forget "zero tolerance" and recognize that for a tiny percentage of the population, drug use will persist. Offer drug treatment to users who want it.  Stress prevention. And don't use prisons (where drug use is a nagging problem) to punish addiction. The "prison-industrial complex" will oppose this view, said Gray, a former prosecutor.

  * Forget the "tough-on-crime sound bites" and use the power of the purse. The federal government could withhold funds from states that fail to address drug problems. The process would resemble the "decertification" of countries that abet drug importation. Taxation, too, could be used to reduce the power of drug cartels.

 * Don't wage war on children. Make sure that from early on, children grasp the dangers of drug use, but teach them that if they're in trouble, they can count on adults to help. Don't set up a system that encourages adults to use children as couriers and sales agents or that makes drug selling the most lucrative work available for young people.

  Judge James P. Gray is the author of "Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It," from Temple University Press. Additional information on drug policy reform is available from the Drug Policy Forum of Texas in Houston (www.dpft.org) and the Stepping Stones Coalition of Austin,  (512) 303-3348.

Judge James P. Gray

Based upon his experience as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, a criminal defense attorney in the Navy, and a trial judge since 1983, Judge Gray has concluded that  the War on Drugs is unwinable.  April 25 at a DPFT sponsored luncheon he discussed rational alternatives. 

About 150 people came to the Hyatt Regency in Austin to hear Judge Gray.  The audience included several local judges, legislators and legislative aides, and media people. The Judge asked the crowd for a show of hands to indicate how many believe that our country's drug problem  is better now than it was five years ago. No one raised their hand.  According to Judge Gray, this is the same answer he gets anywhere in the country anytime he asks that question. 

Citing the examples of Switzerland and the Netherlands, Gray presented tested alternatives to the present US drug policy. 

Judge Gray is the author of the book, Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It.

Texas Hemp Campaign Monthly Vigil

The last Monday every month the Texas Hemp Campaign holds a vigil in front of the Governor's Mansion on the corner of Lavaca and 10th.  The vigil starts at 4:30 p.m. and lasts until 6:30.  Come out and support THC in it's effort to bring about public awareness of the harm caused by Marijuana prohibition. 

HB 513

Filed by Representative Terry Keel, R-Tarrant Co., HB 513 provides an affirmative defense for persons who use marijuana as medicine. If this bill had become law, patients obtaining a recommendation from their medical doctor will be able to use this in their defense if arrested for marijuana possession. It would be up to the court whether to accept this defense or not. Shelton Green, legislative aid for Representative Keel stated that the bill was crafted this way so as not to conflict with Federal law or interfere with law enforcement efforts. Because the bill had no Senate sponsor, it was not passed this session. 

Tulia links:

CNN report:
http://www.cnn.com/ 2000/US/10/10/drug.sting.protest/index.html#2

Austin Chronicle Article:
ht tp://www.auschron.com/issues/dispatch/2000-07-28/pols_feature3.html

William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice

Video ---- Tulia: Scenes From the Drug War:
http://www.soros.org:8080/ ramgen/tlc/tulia.rm

Friends of Justice site:
http://www.drugsense.org/frie ndsofjustice/

Daily Texan (UT Student newspaper):
http ://www.dailytexanonline.com/06-26-01/2001062601_s03_Groups.html


Several bills were passed this session as a result of the drug sting in Tulia, Texas.  The legislation was designed in response to an investigation that led to the arrest of about 10 percent of Tulia's black residents for drug crimes based solely on the testimony of undercover officer Tom Coleman. Read about them  he re .

The three bills are:

HB 2351 and SB 1585

Requires other evidence to support the testimony of an undercover officer or agent.  That evidence could include corroborating testimony by another officer or informant, a video or audio tape, witness statements, or anything else that tends to connect the defendant with the elements of the crime.  Passed!

HB 2352 and SB 1584

Limits the authority of a judge to exclude evidence which would tend to prove a person's innocence of the crime for which he or she is being tried.  This proposal merely restates in statute a protection already guaranteed by the Constitution.
Did not pass.

HB 2350 and SB 1583

Makes public letters filed by police and sherrif's departments with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education (TCLESE) about an officer who was fired or quit--if the termination related to sustained allegations of excessive force or sustained allegations of violations of the law.  Passed and signed by the Governor.  Effective on 9/1/01.

May 9, 2001
Alan Bean of Tulia reports:

"Today, with 5 Friends of Justice reps lobbying and watching, the Texas house passed the 2nd Tulia bill which requires corroboration evidence (writing on narcs leg does not count.) 

 We shall not be moved."