I went up to Sacramento for Gary Webb's funeral service this afternoon. I managed to get to the ballroom at the Doubletree just after the last seat was taken in a room that had at least 200 people in it, most of them pillars of the community, but a sprinkling of motorcycle type friends of his kids and so forth. Across the front of the room were pictures from his life, awards he had won for his journalism (I saw his Pulitzer Prize among them). and nice arrangements of flowers. There was a laptop computer with an attached projector to the left of most stuff, and it was projecting a snapshot of Gary with a serious look on his face, with the caption Gary Webb, 1955-2004 on the screen behind the podium.

Almost immediately, Gary's brother kicked things off by telling the story of his life. He started with the mimeograph machine they had gotten as little kids. The speaker had gotten bored with it after about seven words, but it had fascinated Gary. It had shown him the power of the written word, and after playing with it the guy knew he wanted to write. All his life the guy had aimed for being a journalist, and the twenty years he spent doing investigative journalism were the happiest of his life. Gary's brother explained that the guy was not expecting to have his character assassinated by the mainstream media after he broke the story of the CIA's selling of cocaine to finance their dirty little wars. After the damage was done, Gary had found it impossible to get another job in the field, his wife had left him with their kids, and he just got tired of waking up every day with nothing to do. He didn't want to settle for a burger joint job.

He was followed by a string of other speakers. Family members spoke highly of the guy's loyalty and willingness to help. A Latino guy that had never met Gary talked about his friends in college that had gotten lots of cheap drugs "from these two big Mexican guys." He said that in reading the book he recognized them from their descriptions, so he knew the book was the real deal. Michael Rupert, the author of Crossing the Rubicon, said that this was a dark day for the profession of journalism. He said that if professional journalism has sunk to the point where talents like Gary Webb are not treasured, the time has come to fight back. He explained the Revolutionary Latin American custom of calling the roll of those willing to fight, and that every person who was willing to stand with a fallen leaders cause to the end would exclaim "Presente!" when the roll call reached their name, partly to scare the status quo that wanted that person forgotten. He finished by reading off "Gary Webb", and we all said "Presente!" on que. The last thing was a slide presentation by Webb's sons, showing pictures from his life to the tune of the long solo on the back side of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon.

After the prepared speeches were finished, we went down stairs for a reception. I found myself at a table with a couple of other guys, one of whom was bubbling with conspiracy theories about who shot Gary Webb. After a little while two young women sat down and introduced themselves as the daughters of Gary and his brother. They said that Gary had clearly committed suicide. Later, talking to his sister in law, I heard the same story. She said the guy had sent letters to every family member about it, saying things like "scatter my ashes in the ocean at the beach on a sunny summer day, so I can body surf for eternity."

Tian Harter
My conclusion is that the people who really killed Gary Webb were the ones that poisoned his name to protect the drug runners and the people they were funding.
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P.S. (A year later) Click here to visit Gary Webb's famous website that broke the story.