American Violet

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

 

The movie American Violet opens next month, and is based on the real-life experience of Regina Kelly, a waitress wrongly arrested and charged during a disastrous drug sweep in Hearne, Texas back in 2000. Kelly was one of 28 people arrested. Her refusal to accept a plea bargain eventually helped expose that District Attorney John Paschall case for the massive sweep was a sham, based almost entirely on the word of a pathological informant (who also claims he was beaten by police). Paschall promised his informant he’d drop the theft charges pending against him if the informant could produce information that would lead to 20 drug arrests.

Even after his case fell apart and Paschall had no choice to drop the charges against those who hadn’t alread plead guilty, he refused to exonerate anyone, telling the New York Times that of those charged, "I don’t doubt one minute their guilt in dealing drugs.” Paschall is still district attorney, and he’s not particularly happy about the movie. He told the Dallas Morning News, "The only way I’d watch it, I’d have to be handcuffed, tied to a chair and you’d have to tape my eyes open."

Like the series of wrongful drug arrests in Tulia, Texas, the Hearne scandal was largely attributable to the federal Byrne Grant program, which not only creates the unaccountable, multi-jurisdictional drug task forces like those responsible for Hearne and Tulia, but then also sets artificial, improper incentives by tying future funding to the number of arrests and drug seizures a task force makes. Oddly enough, the Bush administration actually phased out Byrne Grants. Obama and the Democrats in Congress are bringing them back.

I interviewed Regina Kelly a couple of years ago at an ACLU conference:

 

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34 Responses to “American Violet

  1. #1 |  Danny | 

    I hadn’t heard about this story before. That movie looks absolutely riveting.

  2. #2 |  claude | 

    “The only way I’d watch it, I’d have to be handcuffed, tied to a chair and you’d have to tape my eyes open.”

    Id be happy to help out with that. I own a copy of “The Clockwork Orange”, so im familiar with the routine. Call me.

  3. #3 |  Stephen | 

    OMG! Bush did something good and Obama is undoing it! How can this be?

    I am feeling a little sarcastic this morning but I still laugh when anybody has trouble believing that Obama is any different from any other politician.

    ALL politicians LIE!!!!!
    ALL politicians want more power and to stay in power!!!
    ALL politicians want to reduce YOUR liberty in favor of their own gain!!!!

    This is a natural consequence of human psychology or human nature if you want to call it that. The power hungry seek power.

    I am not quite an anarchist but I like it best when we have opposing branches of govt. I don’t like it at all when the president and congress are from the same team.

  4. #4 |  Marty | 

    I wanna be Claude’s assistant!

  5. #5 |  MacGregory | 

    Yeah Claude And Marty, I’d like to get in on that too. I would, however, like to alter the ending to a successful suicide attempt.
    Any suggestions for the music?
    “Vidie well my brother, vidie well”

  6. #6 |  Ed T | 

    The Byrne Grants were a stripped from the stimulus bill. Here’s a link http://stash.norml.org/drug-war-byrne-grants-eliminated-from-obama-stimulus-package/.

  7. #7 |  shoulderShrug | 

    haha…good one claude

  8. #8 |  Andy Craig | 

    Maybe I’m just looking for positive trends, but it is very encouraging to see this and similar movies that likewise show bad-cops-versus-innocent-civilians, like Lakeview Terrace. Seems like we’re seeing more and more of a cultural awareness that much more often than not, there is no “good cop” defending the innocent from within the system (often including the public defenders, as in this case), and that the problems of law enforcement/criminal justice corruption are much more cultural and institutional than they are “a few bad apples” constantly on the run from an improbably enthusiastic police IA investigator. The latter has typically been the TV/film portrayal of “bad cops”, and the fact that that’s falling away in favor of the more realistic cultural/institutional portrayal of corruption is a very good sign from the perspective of those of us who’d like to see a day when LEOs serve a more constructive role in society than agents of needless fear and violence.

    It’s not even necessarily a matter of making police officers the bad guys. The Wire did an excellent job showing that the incentives are so perverse, and so institutionally entrenched, that even well-meaning cops (and I think they are the majority) can do horrendously evil things. The system to a degree attracts and indulges bad people, but even more importantly the system leads otherwise good people to do bad things. The latter is really the much more insidious threat to peaceful society.

  9. #9 |  Edwin Sheldon | 

    Xzibit is in it? Ugh. Yo dawg I herd you like drug raids…

  10. #10 |  JS | 

    Andy Craig

    “Seems like we’re seeing more and more of a cultural awareness that much more often than not, there is no “good cop” defending the innocent from within the system (often including the public defenders, as in this case), and that the problems of law enforcement/criminal justice corruption are much more cultural and institutional than they are “a few bad apples” constantly on the run from an improbably enthusiastic police IA investigator.”

    Yea I totally agree that that’s a good sign. We still have about 40 years of tough guy hero cop propaganda shows to undo but at least its a start.

  11. #11 |  Judi | 

    Chilling.

  12. #12 |  SJE | 

    Here’s an idea. The DA essentially fabricated evidence to get his Byrne grant. That defrauding the Federal Govt, and opens up a whole new means of prosecuting this sort of thing, over and above the civil rights statutes.

  13. #13 |  Big Chief | 

    Outstanding. I look forward to seeing this. Do they plan a wide release?

  14. #14 |  Andrew S. | 

    Id be happy to help out with that. I own a copy of “The Clockwork Orange”, so im familiar with the routine. Call me.

    —–

    Excellent.

    Whether this gets into wide release or I end up watching it on DVD, I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  15. #15 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I just looked at the trailer. Incredible. I almost can’t believe it. After all the movies and TV shows that portray the government’s drug thugs as if they’re rescuing Americans from certain doom, it looks like this movie could take those assholes down a peg. About fuckin’ time.

  16. #16 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Here is another interesting reference to the original story:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/plea/four/stewart.html

  17. #17 |  HorsesAss.Org » Blog Archive » Fighting Back in Kidnap County | 

    [...] a racial component. A new movie coming out soon called American Violet is based on the story of Regina Kelly, a black woman arrested along with 28 others in Hearne, Texas. Most, if not all, of those arrested [...]

  18. #18 |  mark essex | 

    this dude is still DA?

    looks like it’s time for some real justice.

    a white man will never suffer consequences in america for violating the rights or persons of africans.

    THEY MUST BE KILLED!

    KILL THE HEARNE COUNTY DA!

  19. #19 |  In Texas, No Justice… Just Us « All Other Persons | 

    [...] in wide release. But if it is in your town, it might be worth a look. A discussion of the case is here. The discussion includes an engaging interview with Dee Roberts, which, kindly enough, was placed on [...]

  20. #20 |  American Violet fits made-for-TV profile | theCLog | 

    [...] Violet is the kind of docudrama that can inspire you to research the actual people on which it’s based (in real life, Regina Kelly sued D.A. John Paschall). But in its justifiable anger over the drug war’s legal inequities, American Violet flattens out [...]

  21. #21 |  Keisha Sims | 

    This was a great movie. This movies shows that faith in God will take you a long way, regardless if it appears that nothing is in your favor.

  22. #22 |  Sandi Johnson | 

    The DA John Paschall in Hearne is in a federal lawsuit. My son Hank Alan Johnson was murdered in Hearne. The DA’s brother in law is involved in the murder so he decided to cover it up. He threatened the detective steve stokley not to proceed with this case because of his brother in law. He threatened a priest who ran the movie “American Violet” in his church on the premier. He threatened the people who filmed the movie. He threatened me and I am the mother of Hank Alan Johnson. My son was 27 years old with 2 small kids. He was my whole life and that bastard is trying to exume his body to destroy evidence under my only sons fingernails and no one can stop him. I have called the Attorney Generals office, The Governor Rick Perrry, Kay Baily Hutchinson’s office. Parents of Murdered Children, Mothers for unsolved murders. He is an elected official. Although he robbed a bank and was caught by a Texas Ranger. He is a racceteerer, a racist, prejudice asshole who just told me not to email and not to call him again.

  23. #23 |  Sandi Johnson | 

    We are planning a Racist Rally against the DA John Paschall in the church St Mary’s with Quanell X this month. He will harrase us he will threathen us but he will not stop us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The DVD is coming out Oct 13th Nationwide. I have been dealing with him for over a year. I had no idea what was going on here at all. Or I would have stopped my son from going to work to meet the end of his life by being beaten with a baseball bat, then left for dead and took 2 and 1/2 hours by local police and ambulance that laughed at my son when he was dying and vomiting and swollowing his vomit and had a massive heart attack and his heart stopped 30 minutes and came back to lay in a hospital 11 days and die again. He died july 10 08 and july 21 08 on my grandaughters birthday.

  24. #24 |  Sandi Johnson | 

    if you have any information about my son’s death, contact sandi@dorpexpress.com. There is a memorial video on my son at http://www.dorpexpress.com. please help get this man out of office. He is responsible for more things than you even realize. He worked for Billy sol estes in the sixties that has to do with LBJ and JFK. When you say his name the devil jumps off the tongue. .

  25. #25 |  Sandi Johnson | 

    we tried to have a rally of the obstruction going on leading cause in Hearne Texas with activavists Quanell X at the St Mary’s Church where the American Violet movie was premiered. On KBTX he cancelled after the DA John Paschall office called and told the Priest that Quanell X is a Muslim. The Mayor of Hearne went over and said that the DA’s office was moments away from solving the case. Yea Right! So he cancelled the night before. Even after he knew about the facts the day after I talked to him. He wanted police protection acttually I don’t blame him.
    On KBTX I asked questions about the Executive Inn where my son Hank Johnson was murdered in 2008 before the movie came out. I wish I would have known before my son went to Hearne. Before he was murdered in a crime infested place off Hwy 6. I told the Governor Rick Perry without success. I called the Kay Bailey Hutchinson office and she contacted Washington DC. Way to go. I would rather vote for her than for Rick Perry/ he said he couldn’t do anything. About a man who was in office for 20 years you know Rick Perry knows about him. I am just saying do something about this RICK!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh Yea you think you are going to win again.

  26. #26 |  Sandi Johnson | 

    we tried to have a rally of the obstruction going on leading cause in Hearne Texas with activavists Quanell X at the St Mary’s Church where the American Violet movie was premiered. On KBTX he cancelled after the DA John Paschall office called and told the Priest that Quanell X is a Muslim. The Mayor of Hearne went over and said that the DA’s office was moments away from solving the case. Yea Right! So he cancelled the night before. Even after he knew about the facts the day after I talked to him. He wanted police protection acttually I don’t blame him.
    On KBTX I asked questions about the Executive Inn where my son Hank Johnson was murdered in 2008 before the movie came out. I wish I would have known before my son went to Hearne. Before he was murdered in a crime infested place off Hwy 6. I told the Governor Rick Perry without success. I called the Kay Bailey Hutchinson office and she contacted Washington DC. Way to go. I would rather vote for her than for Rick Perry/ he said he couldn’t do anything. About a man who was in office for 20 years you know Rick Perry knows about him. I am just saying do something about this RICK!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh Yea you think you are going to win again.

  27. #27 |  Sandi Johnson | 

    Why does Rick Perry ignor John Paschall in Hearne? Why doesn’t Rick Perry care about a crime infested unsolved murder of HANK JOHNSON!!!!!!!!!! When Kay Bailey Hutchinson called Washington DC about this problem Does Rick Perry know John Paschall? How can he let this happen in Texas!!!!!!!! How can he be Governor of Texas and not know about this right under his nose?

  28. #28 |  American Violet | 

    [...] the incentive structure set up by an $800 million federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. Radley Balko explains how it worked: Like the series of wrongful drug arrests in Tulia, Texas, the Hearne scandal was largely [...]

  29. #29 |  Sandi Johnson | 

    Now the family knows who is involved in the murder of my only son Hank Johnson. It happened in Hearne Texas at the executive inn #125. It goes back in time about 40 years with the ignorance and deceptive law inforcement. Witnesses are coming forward with the truth because they are tired of the lies and the murderers. They know what happened that night and now with a $10.000.00 dollar family reward it will help insure the outcome of the murder.

  30. #30 |  Sandi Johnson | 

    ch 2 investigates in the coverup of Hank Johnson’s still unsolved murder 19 months later. tues night houston channel 2 at 10:00. Why is the brother in law of John Paschall involved in the murder of Hank Johnson?Is Brian Bancroft the investigator hiding the cover up of his DA? Is the threatened detective Steve Stokley at the Hearne PD got the evidence to put the DA away in Prison?

  31. #31 |  elma | 

    I grew up in Bryan/Brazos Bottom years ago, haven’t lived there in over 30 years, had family and have friends in Hearne, up until now I prided myself in my “black awareness”, but I never heard one word about this until the movie aired and i read upon it. And that is why I call Bryan home because I was born there, but cannot live there until I am too old to think and speak. My mama was so glad when I grew and left because she was sure I was going to be lynched, grew up in the “Black and Proud” Sixties, and was vocal about it to the chagrin of most of the rest of Bryan.

  32. #32 |  Kewan Woodard | 

    John Paschall thinks he’s so fucking smart well to me he isn’t I remember what happened in late 2000 cause I was around when it happened when finding out years later that he used that offbrand nigga as an informant to rat out on the wrong people including that of Regina Kelly ,she never should shit to nobody and was never dealing drugs at all she wasn’t gonna go to prison for something she was never capable of doing that’s why she stood up and fought back ,John himself thought the 28 that got wrongfully arrested including Regina were guilty well he was wrong by thinking that black folks are not the only ones selling drugs that’s bullshit you got mexican drug cartells that are movin that shit around that’s one thing that bastard never understood!

  33. #33 |  Senorita Bonita | 

    Whoa! watched this movie tonight and TOO impressed with Regina Kelly her story her strength and TOO impressed with this fine film
    Kudos

  34. #34 |  American Violet: The Drug War « Lady in the Mirror | 

    [...] to theagitator.com, Paschall made a deal with the [...]

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