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Smack, street folk and structure By Henry Staten Austin On the evening of Sunday, Sept. 6, a 32-year-old freak, sausage vendor and ex-PhD candidate in philosophy named Francisco “Paco” Carrasco was shot and killed at a rock concert on the outskirts of Austin. The freak community of Austin interpreted the killing as the crest of a wave of violence and hard-drug use that for months had afflicted the “Drag” area near the university. Many assumed the killer was a smack freak and in anger and fear people began talking about vigilante committees to rid the area of the “smack-freaks and rip-offs.” The Rag, the local underground newspaper, had for some time been reporting open heroin dealing and use in the Drag area, especially around 24th Street in the vicinity of the Les Amis sidewalk cafe. It was said that people were shooting up in the stairwalls of the building adjoining Les Amis, a building which until recently had housed The Texas Observer. There were frequent reports of beatings, stabbings and robberies in the area, violence which was interpreted as a by-product of the hard-drug culture developing in the area. On Aug. 2 The Rag reported that the problem was reaching “epidemic proportions” and sounded a call for community solidarity, urging freaks to bring “whatever social pressures we can to bear on the offenders.” But not until Paco’s death was the community ready for large-scale action. Enter, at this point, Cissi Alex and Shirley Massey, friends of Paco’s, and Paula Sornoff, a friend of Cissi’s. These three seize the moment and initiate a series of community meetings to discuss the situation and possible avenues of action. Perhaps 200 freaks turn out for meetings on the UT campus and at Armadillo World Headquarters. Out of these meetings comes an organization called the Austin Plan, which declares its ambitious intention to become the central coordinating committee for all anti-hard drug groups in Austin. The Austin Plan is fronted by Cissi Alex, Shirley Massey and most of all by Paula Sornoff, who as information director emerges as spokesman and prime mover of the group. By the time of the Armadillo meeting on Sept. 15 massive ambiguity has begun to set in. The Austin Police Department, in a fit of PR inspiration, sends a black cop and a brown cop to rap to the meeting. The cops smile sheepishly at the crowd when they are introduced, and the crowd of freaks applauds warmly. But the cops are Mr. Staten is a teaching assistant in the English Department of the University of Texas at Austin. almost the only dark faces in this crowd. Later they spend 15 minutes explaining to this gathering of supposedly light travellers that the city is instituting a new system for indentifying and recovering stolen property. A freak with arresting hair tells them we are there to discuss more serious matters. But someone calls him down for rudeness, and politeness prevails as the crowd seems to side with the idea of treating the cops with courtesy since they have been so considerate as to come listen and talk. After the main meeting Paula Sornoff, hearing that the education committee discussion has bogged down \(it hadn’t, we were just discussing things that attractive, wearing makeup and obviously-straight clothes, looking younger before this group of anarchistic authority-hating hairies and addresses us as a football coach would address a demoralized team at halftime, informing us in no uncertain terms of just what needs to be done and what it will take to do it. AT THE THIRD community meeting, Sept. 23 on the UT campus, the central co-ordinating committee presents the gathering with a “tentative position paper” which announces support from: a group of high school students who are busy organizing “every high school in Austin and vicinity;” Rosewood Neighborhood center and Community United Front, from the East Austin black community; Vietnam Vets Against the War, which is already working on its own drug rehabilitation program; the East First Street Neighborhood Center, from the East Austin chicano community; and Middle Earth, the bad trip center operated by the University YMCA. On Sept. 27, in the same issue in which the tentative position paper is printed, The Rag prints several articulate criticisms and rejections of the Austin Plan. Paula and her central committee are accused of power-tripping, and forcing prefabricated definitions on people who prefer to define themselves and of attempting to take control of programs that have been doing fine before the Austin Plan came along. In the days that follow, Stuart Isgur, director of the University Y, pulls Middle Earth out of the Austin Plan. Stuart, who has dark shoulder-length hair and a bushy moustache, and his Middle Earth have been helping kids with drug problems, no questions asked, no hassles, for almost two years. He resents the Austin Plan, thinks it is trying to take credit for whatever Middle Earth does. “They keep track of everything we’re doing,” he says. “They’re worse than the Austin police. They give you a feeling like they’re running the show.” Meanwhile, in the apartment upstairs, the City Council has decided to get in on the reaction and declares, on Sept 21, a “full scale war on drugs” which Mayor Roy Butler announces will make Austin “the most dangerous place on earth to peddle drugs.” Not unexpectedly, there is widespread suspicion among liberal and radical segments of the community that the council is less interested in fighting drug abuse than in making points with Middle America. Central to the city council program are a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of narcotics dealers, encouragement for judges to impose maximum sentences in drug cases and more cops, both undercover agents and patrolmen. The Austin American reports that Municipal Judge Ronnie Earl calls the $500 reward “creative” and says “I think it’s about time we tried some imaginative approaches to the heroin problem.” PAULA SORNOFF gets lots of print in the American and the Texan by telling the council their program is the “same old punitive garbage.” A city councilman replies, “It may be punitive, but at least it’s a start.” Paula and Stuart hammer away at the fact that the council plan makes no distinction between marijuana users and dealers on the one hand and heroin users and pushers on the other. Paula argues that “the reward money would be better spent on “rehabilitation or finding addicts jobs” and asserts that “under no circumstances will we deal with the police.” Despite the fact that everyone is agreed in opposition to the council program, the Austin Plan is clearly shot through with dissension. By the first week of October even Shirley Massey is ready to pull out. On Wednesday, Oct. 6, the co-ordinationg committee meets at the UT Methodist Student Center, and this meeting belongs to John Kneffin, area co-ordinator of the VVAW, who expresses his accumulated discontent with the Austin Plan. John is a freak of the costume variety on this day he wears a beaded vest, brightly-colored tie-died shirt and striped bell-bottom pants. His broad-brimmed hat on the table before him and his shoulder-length brown hair frame his intensely serious manner as he recites his complaints. He takes Paula to task for “misrepresenting” the VVAW to the media and to Walter Richter, director of the State Program on Drug Abuse. John conceives of the Austin Plan as a clearing-house that would facilitate communication between October 22, 1971 7