Sunday, May 24, 2015
Justice In Waco?
By now, most of you have heard about the tragic shootings at the Twin Peaks Restaurant in Waco, Texas. Ever since I first read reports, there were some glaring facts that just didn't seem to add up sensibly. The more I read and understand a bit more of what took place, I find myself growing ever more troubled by what appears to be excessive over zealous law enforcement actions.
Reports of how the Waco PD was given "intelligence" from another law enforcement agency (who was never names in the reports that I read) stating that there was a possible turf war brewing between the Bandidos OMG and the Cossacks MC, several weeks ago, somehow led the Waco PD to make a show of force around the site of a previously planned and publicly promoted political event. A Coalition of Clubs and Independents meeting at the Twin Peaks restaurant. The police show their anti-motorcycle bias from the start by describing the COC&I meeting variously as; a "party', a "barbecue", and a meeting to work out turf" issues. From the start, any motorcycle club patch holder was described as a "gang member". With no differentiation between veterans clubs, christian clubs, family oriented clubs, or the 1%er clubs. If you were wearing a club patch, you were in a "biker gang". Which made you a criminal "gang member".
The COC&I is a decades old organization dedicated to legislative and political efforts to safeguard the lifestyle of the motorcycle community, with no history of problems prior to this incident. Since the meetings are bi-monthly, and therefore planned in advance, the Waco PD's assertion it was a meeting to resolve a dispute over turf, doesn't seem to hold water. What does seem strange, is that the police were at the scene prior to any violence breaking out. In numbers, and heavily armed, yet they seem to not have time to recognize who were the belligerents and who wasn't. The police also admit to firing at "armed bikers" but seem to be unable, or unwilling to state how many of the dead or wounded were shot by law enforcement.
As reported by the Associated Press, the internal security cameras of the Twin Peaks showed, within two minutes of the first shots being fired, law enforcement was coming through the front doors brandishing military style rifles. Since the police were there prior to the outbreak of violence, and watching the Twin Peaks, it seems strange that the would report to the media that the violence broke out in the bathroom of the bar, and then spilled out into the parking lot. When the cameras appear to show quite the opposite to be true.
After the shooting, the Waco PD arrested 170 motorcyclists who had been present at Twin Peaks on felony "participating in organized crime" charges. Their bail set at $1,000,000 each. In this one fact, it would appear that the Waco PD threw out the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. Does simply being at the site of a violent happening make one a participant? To quote a Call To Action put out by the Texas Coalition Of Clubs & Independents;
"So, for example, how can a mother, father, and son setting up a public safety booth for a political gathering be guilty of organized crime when violence erupts around them? It is not a crime to be present when a tragedy occurs. But that is how the majority of the 170 arrested are being charged and characterized. There are veterans, ministers, and former law enforcement, and everyday working Americans that are being denied their freedom and having their reputations tarnished because they were being responsible constituents and participating in the democratic process."
Also, a strange response to this situation, and one that to a motorcyclist like myself seems quite bizarre, are reports that the Waco PD ordered the Harley-Davidson dealer to shut down for the day, and publicly broadcast warnings for motorcyclists to stay off the streets of Waco. Was this an attempt to use this tragedy to gain control over the entire motorcycling community in Waco? Or just a further example of Waco PD's profiling of all motorcyclists as criminals?
In Washington State, we are the only state (currently, but Texas was one of a number of states following Washingtons lead) that has a "Motorcycle Anti-Profiling" law. This law would have made much of what law enforcement in Waco did AFTER this incident illegal. Although, in Washington it may be illegal, the law doesn't carry much of a bite. There already have been some law enforcement agencies in the state claim the law is meaningless. After seeing the lengths to which law enforcement in Waco have gone to crush the motorcycling community under it's heel (170 individuals arrested on felony participation in ORGANIZED CRIME activities while attending a publicly promoted regularly scheduled political event, and all their motorcycles seized under 'forfeiture' by law enforcement), perhaps we here in Washington State should work hard at putting some bite into our "Anti-Profiling" law. We must do something to prevent such tragedies from happening here in Washington.
I hope you are all looking forward to a resolution to this tragic stripping of individuals Civil Rights simply because they at the location to attend a political event when violence broke out around them. Remember that the shooting started outside in full view of law enforcement, and law enforcement admits to shooting at armed "gang members". So far no video footage has been brought forward showing the parking lot at Twin Peaks to show how the shooting began, and who fired the first shot. Yet even those inside the restaurant were arrested and given $1 million bail. This isn't justice, "It's Just Us."
Catch you on the road sometime...