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Beginning with a few arrests in the midnineties, building momentum with a school drug testing policy passed in 1996, and culminating in the big busts of 1999, the drug war in Tulia coincided roughly with the black community’s move across the tracksessentially pushing black and white Tulia into the same space for the first time ever. Joe Moore, 59, is in the fourth year of a 90-year sentence. “When it comes to saying we’ve shamed our community by bringing the media here, I would say that when this bust came down and you paraded those people in front of the cameras half-naked and said ‘Look, it’s the biggest drug bust in Texas!’ it would seem to me that’s what put Tulia on the map,” she said. As was the case with the last wave of media exposure, few have felt the backlash in Tulia more than Alan Bean, who hosts the regular Friends of Justice meetingsattended mainly by relatives of sting defendantsat his home in the center of town. “He’s in danger of losing his white card,” as one black resident put it. Bean is regularly pilloried in the local press, where he has tried with limited success to raise the level of debate on the bust. “There’s no logic to the letters to the editorit’s all emotion,” he said. “It’s ‘I believe Tom Coleman because we need drug-free communities,’ or ‘I believe they’re guilty because Larry Stewart is a Christian man,'” he said. But local organizing has born fruit. Following a controversial raid last spring on a graduation party for Latino students, two agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission were fired and charges against several students were dropped. any of the Tulia defendants have now paroled out and sonic, like Donnie Smith, have returned to Tulia. Smith was born in the Flats, one of six children of a single mother. He was a star athlete in high school, but floundered after his graduation in the late 1980s, a com mon fate for many young blacks in town, where the farming and ranching-based economy has been in a tailspin for decades. Most young blacks now leave Tulia to find opportu nities in nearby cities; for those who do not, unemployment is common, as is trouble with the law By the mid-1990s, Smith was addicted to crack cocaine. But he was no dealer. To support his habit, Smith worked weekends at the cattle auction, where he was unlucky enough to meet Tom Coleman or T.J. Dawson, as he called himselfone day in the summer of 1998. Coleman befriended Smith, who scored crack for the officer and, according to Smith, smoked it with him on several occasions. Coleman would later put powdered cocaine into evidence in most of Smith’s cases, as he did in almost every case in the operation. \(The provenance of that powder, as well as the disposition of the crack Coleman legitimately bought from Smith and a few others, is one of the continuing By the time Smith was rounded up along with the others in July of 1999, he had been clean and sober for six months. His record was also fairly cleana couple of fights over the years had left him with two misdemeanor charges. He expected to be offered probation; instead he eventually took a plea offer of 13 years. Smith was paroled after 30 months. He is now living in a short row of public housing duplexes, built on the edge of where The Flats used to be.The big plans for 1-27 never mate rialized, and Donnie’s back patio looks onto an empty flat plain sloping down to the interstate. Shortly after his release in January, Donnie got a job at a meatpacking plant in Plainview. But the work was grueling and dangerous, so he quit after a few months. He now works at Big N Seed Company in Tulia, where the money is not as good. In a small town like Tulia, everyone knows Donnie’s past. His current boss, in fact, is the same man who chaired his jury. But he treats Donnie well. “He’s good people. He told me he would n’t have convicted me if he’d known all this other stuff [about Coleman],” he said. Still, some of the others at the company continued on page 18 11/8/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9