Expose the government’s biggest lie… With an Oswald or Garrison T-Shirt Ts 100% Cotton $15.00 Sweats 90/10 $25.00 S,M,L,XL Shipping included Check / Money Order to: Star Bright Box 13381 Austin, TX 78711 Please allow 2-4 weeks for delivery StarBright “I didn’t shoot anybody, no sir…. I’m just a patsy!” LEE HARVEY OSWALD “…the key to the whole case is through the looking glass. Black is white. White is black.” Carrasco kept pulling it back, grinning, offering it, then pulling it back to his face. After finally managing to grab the license, Lambert says she angrily told the agent, “I’m going to report you and sue you.” Suddenly, she recalls, Carrasco screamed, “Call the cops! This woman tried to hit me.” Then, Lambert later testified, “three men … threw me on the floor. They were beating me up, picking me up from my legs, hair and arms … I started screaming and crying. One said, ‘Shut up, you f-ing Mexican!'” Panicked, Lambert kicked, bit and scratched the agents. She was quickly restrained, and when the dust settled, the government charged her with assault against Carrasco and three other men whose combined weight equalled at least 500 pounds. Advised by her first two attorneys to forget the incident and accept a government plea bargain, Lambert refused. Though she had never been an activist, she went to the local media with her story. She also made leaflets urging fellow Hispanics to stop letting themselves be treated like “some bug to be stepped on.” Following several TV appearances and stints at shopping malls and bridges with the leaflets, she was slapped with an indictment charging that she had “forcibly assaulted, resisted, opposed, impeded, intimidated and interfered with” agent Carrasco and the three men she argues did the same to her. U.S. Attorneys refused to comment publicly about the indictment, saying only that incidents of women assaulting immigration and customs officials on the border are “underreported” and “widespread along both the Mexican and Canadian borders.” But El Paso federal public defender Liz Rogers says it is rare for a woman to be charged with assaulting officers. Others say it is even rarer when the woman is as tiny as Lambert. ILEMP director Maria Jimenez thinks it is far more common for Customs agents to abuse female civilians than vice versa: during a recent two-year period, her group documented 48 such incidents, up and down the border. Jimenez believes Lambert’s experience is but another such incident. She thinks Lambert got indicted “because she took the highly unusual step of speaking out.” Following the indictment, the government offered another plea bargain, that if she would admit guilt, she would get off with a $200 fine and brief probation. She insisted on a trial, so ILEMP and local civil rights groups encouraged her to hire Marco Lopez, a San Diego, Calif., lawyer known for successfully defending men charged with assaulting federal agents, and for suing agents accused of assaulting immigrations. But it seemed neither Lopez nor the activists grasped how the waron-drugs mentality and war-think in general can affect juries in a border city where one-third of the people owe at least a part of their livelihood to law enforcement or the military. El Paso, after all, is a place where mega-cocaine-bust stories are almost as common as the daily weather forecasts, and a major highway recently was renamed after the Patriot missile, developed at Fort Bliss. In such a place, what does reasonable doubt mean? Attorney Lopez tried to show the likelihood that agents involved in the Lambert fracas had gotten together and cooked up a story. He showed that several powwowed before writing up reports even though they had been ordered not to. He showed that even so, the reports were often grossly contradictory. He got the government’s internal affairs investigator, who is supposed to be objective, to admit he thought Lambert guilty because the customs agents, who said so, were “my witnesses.” Lopez got the government to talk; and, listened to carefully, its rhetoric made sexual harassment seem plausible. Men on the stand called Lambert “like a 9-year-old having a tantrum,” added Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Jurecky. An unbelievably strong one, the agents said: “stiff like a cat.” Beneath this language, a distaff ear could hear another message: about a woman in terror of rape. But attorney Lopez was tone deaf. Although 11 on the jury were women, he never let Lambert tell how agent Carrasco had asked her for a smile; nor did he try to educate them about women border crossers’ fear of the strip search. In the end, the state called 12 officials who testified against the defense’s one Lambert, with her lonely, sketchy story that none on the jury seemed to comprehend. “We couldn’t understand what made her so upset,” one of the jurors, an Anglo, said after the trial. “I can’t imagine three Customs agents government people attacking her for no reason. The juror added that she never crosses the border. Another concurred. “I used to, years ago, before the economic troubles over there,” she said. “But now it’s too scary.” In his closing statement, prosecutor Jurecky hammered on Americans’ fear of mayhem evoked by images of evil and southern borders, versus the security symbolized by its thin blue federal line. “No one has to tell you about the drugs that come through here,” Jurecky said. In detaining Lambert and her Lucky Dust, inspector Carrasco was only “doing his job” to keep those drugs out. Further, Lambert’s questioning his behavior constituted an “attitude problem.” Not to mention her physical acts. For in this age of AIDS, Jurecky said, a woman’s teeth and fingernails are deadly weapons. The jury deliberated for about an hour before convicting Lambert. Under mandatory federal sentencing rules, she faces one to four years in prison. She doesn’t regret having chosen a trial. “I told the truth,” she says. “I did it for my community.” Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 28. As she waits, border civil rights workers are wondering: “Who among our community will dare protest again?” DUKE ISSUE REPRINTS! Reprints of the Jan. 17 & 31 special issue on David Duke are on hand for immediate shipment or for mailing to the persons you designate. For further information see page 9 or call Cliff Olofson at the Observer. Send your order and prepayment to: Texas Observer Reprints, 307 West 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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