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AFI turns the camera on West Texas


by Alan Melson 1 Apr 2008

Several years back, two filmmakers from Northern California descended on Tulia, TX to try and understand the story that unfolded beginning back in 1999 when 46 people, of which 39 were African-American, were arrested (and convicted) in a sting operation by undercover police in Tulia.  I was fortunate enough to introduce this thought-provoking film at the AFI Dallas Film Festival when […]

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Several years back, two filmmakers from Northern California descended on Tulia, TX to try and understand the story that unfolded beginning back in 1999 when 46 people, of which 39 were African-American, were arrested (and convicted) in a sting operation by undercover police in Tulia.  I was fortunate enough to introduce this thought-provoking film at the AFI Dallas Film Festival when it screened to full houses on both Saturday and Sunday last week.  It not only paints a sometimes unbelievable chronicle of the events that took place, but it also opened up a lengthy dialogue on the Texas judicial system.

It was a privilege to have in attendance not only the filmmakers, Kelly Whalen and Cassandra Herrman, Judge Ron Chapman and attorney Jeff Blackburn but also, Freddie Brookins, Jr.  Freddie is a remarkable young man.  After four years in prison as a result of this “operation”, Freddie continued to maintain his innocence and was finally rewarded with his conviction being overturned in 2003. 

FYI, the film, Tulia, Texas, has been picked up nationally by the PBS series, Independent Lens, and will be seen nationwide on PBS (and KERA Channel 13) sometime in Fall 2008 or Winter 2009.  I strongly suggest you check it out when available. 

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