By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Maybe you're a Dallas native and are unfamiliar with the term outrage; it means anger and resentment aroused by an insult or injury. It's the thing of which protests are made. It is also what you might expect the citizenry to feel when it learns that some of its cops, through gross incompetence or something worse, have coupled with low-life informants to snatch innocent people off the streets and send them off to prison--or deport them--on bogus drug charges. Cases against more than 85 people have been dismissed. In many of them the "drugs" turned out to be powdered gypsum.
Pretty outrageous, that. So where are the pickets? Why this eerie silence? Move this same scandal to Los Angeles or San Antonio or Philadelphia, Buzz suspects, and there would be much more noise, heat and anger.
"There really hasn't been a hell of a lot of consternation over it," says Dallas City Council member John Loza, one of the people Buzz called to check out our notion that public reaction has been strangely muted. "I wouldn't really argue with that proposition."
He couldn't offer an explanation either.
(Loza joined state Representative Domingo Garcia and others earlier this month in asking District Attorney Bill Hill to help free two men snared in the scandal. It wasn't exactly a mass demonstration, but it was something--a pulse, a sign of life.)
Others suggested simply that Dallas just isn't an outrage kind of city, or that it's something in the water. Or maybe, to be ugly and blunt, it's because most of those snared were poor day laborers and immigrants. Hey, you come to this country looking for work, the occasional Kafkaesque police action is just the price you pay. Screw 'em, there's plenty more where they came from.
Of course, that's just Buzz being deeply cynical. Truth is, Hill's office is working to correct the injustices it had a hand in creating. Two cops have been placed on administrative leave, and the U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether they knowingly took part in the frame-ups. Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of the victims. The system grinds along, even if it occasionally grinds up a few innocents. Do we really need to play the blame game?
Yes, we do, and we need you to be a player. Whether the cops knew or didn't know what they were doing, someone high up needs to be smacked but good. This wasn't a small mistake. Even if it were an honest one, it was a result of unforgivably bad procedures and bad police work. Try this analogy: A worker at an airplane maker neglects to screw the wings on a plane and it crashes, killing 85 of your relatives. He didn't mean to do it; someone told him the wings were attached, and the policies in place just didn't catch the whopping error. You would expect, probably demand, that someone in charge take it high and hard, wouldn't you? You'd want that platter full of head, we bet.
The question is, whose head? Buzz has some thoughts, but we're anxious to hear your opinion, assuming you have one.
Assuming you care.