Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Civil Wrongs In Waco
I have been trying to understand what is going on in Waco, Texas.
It is true, I do have questions about the shootings there. However the information that has been released by law enforcement is much too vague, and contradictory to give any real picture of what happened. The actual shootings, and what triggered them is of much less concern to me than the aftermath. While I have my own ideas of what may have occurred, I wasn't there, and do not know for sure.
What concerns me most, is the ongoing incarceration of well over 100 people on extraordinary bond amounts. This is now five weeks since the incident. It seems quite strange that there has been so little movement into the investigation of who was involved. The idea that 177 people arrested that day prior to a publicly promoted political meeting, during a drag net mass arrest, all were engaged in a criminal activity is mind boggling. Where is the evidence that provides probable cause for an arrest?
A statement made by the Prosecuting Attorney that those arrested aren't "acting like victims" because they chose to exercise their Fifth Amendment Right to remain silent, only adds fuel to those voices that say law enforcement in Waco that day was extremely overzealous and is now trying to control all information relating to those arrested. If an innocent person suddenly finds themselves in the right place, at the wrong time, and is caught in a mass dragnet arrest the first thing law enforcement should tell each person placed under arrest is that they have; "...a Right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will be used against you in a court of law." .Under those circumstances I would exercise my Right to remain silent as well. It isn't what you say, but what the law enforcement officer puts in their report that you said, or captures on audio/video recording (where possible), that they use against you.
Information I have obtained from members of the National Coalition Of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and the Confederation Of Clubs (COC), there has not been any violent incident like this in the multi-decade history of the organizations. Yet law enforcement was pressuring the management of Twin Peaks days prior to the meeting to refuse to hold it there. Instead of understanding and accepting that the Confederation Of Clubs & Independents in Texas was a political/legislative organization, they continued to claim it was merely a front for a meeting over 1% Club recruitment and turf disputes. Which is not at all what the COC is about. I have been to a few COC meetings here in Washington, and inter-Club business is left outside the door.
I find the fact that law enforcement was on scene (with SWAT members) prior to the incident, and expecting trouble, where trouble had never occurred before more than a bit troublesome. It would appear their "intelligence" bordered on clairvoyance. Yet it is still taking more than a month and a half for them to gain an understanding of who was truly engaged in criminal activity, and who was just on the scene? That in itself I find troubling.
To give a less vitriolic picture to the concept of what has happened, let us change one factor in this equation. Instead of motorcycle club members, imagine rival NFL team fans, getting into a heated dispute that somehow turns deadly, resulting in 9 deaths ("at least" 4 of which police admit to causing themselves). Then 177 others in the area are all arrested for being involved in the deadly criminal activity because they were fans and were wearing identifying insignia. Would you find that an intolerable violation of Civil Rights? Guilt by association is wrong, we all know it. But that is what appears to have been at the root of the mass arrests in Waco.
The First Amendment Right to freely associate is a fundamental Right of all Americans. As well as the First Amendment Right of Free Speech. These are just a few of the Rights that Waco law enforcement seem to be disregarding, and trampling on. Also, the Fourth Amendment Right to be secure from search and seizure without a warrant. A "fill in the blanks" form should not be considered a proper warrant for an individuals arrest. Using the fact that citizens exercised their Fifth Amendment Right to remain silent against them is counter to the reason the Fifth Amendment was written in the first place. Then there is the Fourteenth Amendments "Equal Protection" clause. This was also ignored, as only motorcyclists, on scene for a publicly promoted political event were arrested and giving an extraordinary bond of $1 million. Clearly this was done with a punitive purpose.
The fact that Waco law enforcement continues to refer to those arrested as "gang members" also seems to add weight to the contention that this is a massive profiling incident. That everyone was arrested because they were a motorcyclist. Whether they were a minister, retired law enforcement, an attorney, fire fighter, EMT or housewife doesn't seem to make a difference...they are all being called "gang members", and being treated like members of a street gang. It is better to allow some criminals to escape justice than to incorrectly incarcerate one innocent person. Yet this basic premise seems to have completely eluded the law enforcement community in Waco.
I simply cannot imagine the American people standing for such outrageous violation of Civil Rights as we have seen over the last six weeks in Waco. Especially when the vast majority were only on scene to attend a political event. For one more example of how disturbingly overzealous law enforcement has been regarding this matter; within hours of the incident at Twin Peaks restaurant, the law enforcement in the area barricaded the Harley Davidson dealership. Forcing its closure for three days. Even though it was not even near the location of the shootings. Talk about complete anti-motorcycle bias. I cannot even comprehend the rationalization that must have been twisted to shut down a business in that manner.
Think about it. Are your Freedoms secure?
Catch you on the road sometime...