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Texas Observer VOLUME 95, NO. 24 A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor Ronnie Dugger Co-Editors Jake Bernstein, Barbara Belejack Staff Writer Dave Mann Managing Publisher Jim Ball Associate Publisher Charlotte McCann Circulation Manager Rosie Bamberger Chavez Art Direction Buds Design Kitchen Poetry Editor Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editor Roxanne Bogucka Webmaster Adrian Quesada Interns Jessica Chapman, Kate Harrington, Emily Rapp Contributing Writers Nate Blakeslee, Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, James McWilliams, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross Staff Photographers Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum. Contributing Artists Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Doug Potter, Penny Van Horn, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, John Kenneth Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001, Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board Lou Dubose, Ronnie Dugger,Marc Grossberg, Molly Ivins, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Gilberto Ocanas, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips. tents copyrighted 2003, is published biweekly except every three 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. E-mail [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page WWW. texasobservenorg. Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. Subscriptions One year $32, two years 559, three years S84. Full-time stu dents $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues S3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. The Books,the Culture section is partially funded through grants from the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission and the Writer’s League of Texas, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. After more than two years, the citizens of Dallas may finally get a truthful investigation into one of the worst police scandals in the city’s history. Or then again, they may not. What is now known as the “Dallas sheetrock scandal,” began in February 2000 with the hiring of police informant Enrique Alonso. The police paid Alonso $1,000 for every kilogram of cocaine he helped them seize. The deal worked out great for the Dallas police, as the informant led them to record cocaine busts, announced with great fanfare. It also enabled the department to arrest scores of suspects, mostly poor Mexican immigrants. As it turns out the deal was too good. The cocaine was in fact gypsum used in sheetrock and billiard chalk. The suspects were not drug kingpins but largely innocent members of the working poor. Since the scandal broke, more than 80 drug cases have been dismissed and a number of civil suits against the city are underway. The FBI has spent two years investigating without any discernible progress beyond a failed federal prosecution of one police officer. So far, the city has managed to avoid the painful question of how this travesty of justice was allowed to occur. Ironically, a late November “not guilty” verdict in the trial of Alonso’s police supervisor Senior Corporal Mark Delapaz is what appears to have cracked the city’s paralysis. Delapaz was accused of lying on arrest warrants and violating the civil rights of suspects. \(He was not charged with falsifying field tests to indicate that the fake drugs used to set up innocent people were actually real, for which the ACLU claims there is A guilty verdict would have allowed the city to place all the blame on one rogue officer and sweep the whole mess out of sight. Instead, the verdict of innocence outraged many in Dallas, particularly the Latino community. For the first time ever, disparate Latinosimmigrants and Chicanoshave put aside their differences to demand justice with one voice. What they want is a thorough investigation that ferrets out everybody who was responsible. They have even called on the Mexican government to get involved since many of the sheetrock victims were citizens of that country. After the verdict, the city appointed a three-member panel to investigate. Questions have already arisen over how much oversight the city council will have over the probe. And it remains to be seen what cooperation they will receive from the office of the Dallas County District Attorney and the police department. Bill Hill, the Dallas DA, has so far largely managed to shield his office from the scandal. After the verdict, he named an independent prosecutor with strong ties to the DA’s office to investigate. But without a thorough investigation and real reform, the ire of an aroused community will only grow. JB EDITORIAL Sheetrock Whitewash? Thanks to all our loyal subscribers for another year of support. With this issue we take our annual winter break. The office will be closed from December 22-January 2. Our next issue-Winter Books-will be dated January 16. See you in 2004! 12/19/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3