Monthly Archives: October 2015

Police Strong Arm Businesses in Florida to Adopt No Colors Policies

By Bobby “Bobby C” Colella

Hostage_negotiation_daytona_no_colors

As the National Motorcycle Profiling Survey results continue to roll in on week three of the planned 52 week study, a very disturbing picture is beginning to emerge with regards to business owners and who they may and may not be “allowed” to serve. Of the almost 2,000 surveyed throughout the country thus far, 40% report occurrences of the police, code enforcement, and licensing and permitting departments using strong-arm tactics to force businesses into implementing a “No Colors” policy.

These totalitarian acts aren’t surprising, especially since the mass hysteria that ensued in the wake of the Waco shootings. Unfortunately, even prior to Waco the businesses that remained patch friendly, more often than not, are experiencing delays or denials in receiving their special event permits, business licenses, liquor licenses, while also dealing with increased levels of police presence. All of which are meant to drive customers away, and create financial hardships for the American business owner.

For example, one business in the heart of Daytona Beach who opted to be patch friendly endured an onslaught of code enforcement harassment, mixed with an overwhelming police presence and customer harassment. This harassment included the Daytona Beach’s hostage negotiation command post being parked in front of the business with the red and blue lights on. Needless to say, the business has since shut down. See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHQmhJ0pJNY

Yet another patch friendly business on Main St. in Daytona Beach was denied permits just prior to Bike Week 2015, and had an overwhelming police presence outside its doors during the event. This cost the business owner tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Though the aforementioned business is still open, it is no longer patch friendly.

As one business owner put it, “if I stood up to the police and code enforcement, I have no doubt I would win – but it would be a lengthy and expensive court process, in the meantime I have a family to feed and bills to pay.”

With these tyrannical tactics becoming more widespread throughout the country, it is obvious that we need to seek legislatively protection for equal access. By doing so, we would regain our right to accommodation by businesses that are open to the public regardless of attire or affiliation (which is protected under the 14th Amendment), as well as help protect the business owners from local government overreach.

It’s not up to the local code enforcement, backed by the police and media pushing a false narrative that “all motorcycle clubs are domestic terrorists” to dictate how a person runs their business. If a person wants to cater to a specific segment of society, it should be their prerogative. If this were to happen to any other segment of society, there would be total outrage.

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Maryland Cops Threaten Motorcycle Rights Activist

By Bill “Colt” Kaitz

full gear

In 2015, the Confederation of Clubs and ABATE of Maryland were noticeably effective communicating to the state legislature that motorcycle profiling and discrimination were problems in need of relief. Legislation banning motorcycle-only checkpoints passed into law with the unanimous approval of the Senate and the House. Additionally, a bill addressing motorcycle profiling passed the Senate unanimously and unfortunately ran out of time. One of the most important pieces of evidence demanding relief was the highly discriminatory targeting of bikers during the 2014 Blessing of the Bikes event in Calvert County Maryland. During the same event this year, a Calvert County Sheriff directly threatened a club because of their involvement in the rights movement. The last thing that should ever happen in a free society is intentional law enforcement targeting of grassroots rights activists that are involved in the democratic process to protect their way of life. The necessity for a law addressing motorcycle profiling in Maryland should be self-evident.

So what is the basis for the claim that Maryland Cops are targeting activists? Following the success of the COC and ABATE in the legislature, during the Blessing of the Bikes event this year, Calvert County Deputy Sheriff Greg Cameron, formerly of the MSP, approached another member of a motorcycle club to inquire about activists in Annapolis. The Sheriff asked who the Legion MC was because he said they have been “fucking” with law enforcement at the Capitol. You see, a member of the Legion MC actively lobbied on behalf of the COC and was very visible at the Capitol during the legislative session. The Deputy Sheriff then asked that a message be relayed to the Legion MC. The Deputy Sheriff said, “Tell the Legion MC that if they keep fucking with us we will show them what being fucked with looks like.”

The source will remain unnamed by the MPP out of obvious concern. But this Deputy Sheriff made his threats in front of a group of people in public, so the event has been corroborated, while across the parking lot from the Legion MC rights activist being threatened.

Does law enforcement believe that they are above legislative governing? Do they consider political speech and participation in the political process as “fucking with cops” and in need of a retaliatory response?

Regardless, these threats, even being vague and unspecific, are retaliatory and a clear attempt to squash protected 1st Amendment speech. Law enforcement threats, particularly during a time videos of police shootings and beatings are so prolific, can easily have a clear chilling effect on political speech. Many times profiling stops in Maryland are conducted at the end of an assault rifle, as documented at the Blessing of the Bikes in 2014 and many years prior, so these threats have added significance. Motorcyclist club members are already treated like criminals. There is every reason to believe that the Calvert County Sheriffs could follow through with a threat.

We are supposed to live in a society where participation in the political process should not be attached to a threat of police retaliation. Law enforcement’s responsibility is to follow the law and enforce the law. Not break the law because they want to make the law. Without argument, the one thing that such a threat does accomplish is solidify and reinforce an already overwhelming pattern of motorcycle profiling demanding legislative relief.

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A New York Police Department Says It’s Illegal to Own Handguns as a Member of a Motorcycle Club

By David “Double D” Devereaux

Suffolk County

The unconstitutional harassment of the Pagans Motorcycle Club on Long Island continues at an accelerated pace. Following the militarized “show of force” at a charity event hosted by the Pagans MC October 17th, which resulted in massive civil liberty violations, the Suffolk County Police Department continues its campaign of unconstitutional harassment. The SCPD is confiscating the handguns of members of the Pagans MC that have no criminal record and have been issued legal permits by Suffolk County.

Motorcycle clubs, including the Pagans MC, are constitutionally protected associations and the right to bear arms is fundamental. “Anyone concerned with government overriding legal mechanisms allowing gun ownership should be highly concerned about law enforcement’s obvious attempts to disarm members of motorcycle clubs based on nothing more than association.” (See It’s Illegal For Motorcycle Club Members To Own Guns? that’s What Authorities Say August 25, 2015)

So what is the SCPD doing? On Thursday October 22nd, the SCPD contacted a member of the Pagans MC and informed him that his legal permit issued by Suffolk County was under review because of his alleged membership in the Pagans MC. The SCPD requested that he come down to the station for an interview and bring all 10 of his legally purchased and registered handguns.

The member, in good faith, says he went down to the station with his legal handguns in order to be interviewed. This member has absolutely no criminal record and he had been legally issued a permit. He thought he could clear it up, he says.

But the SCPD had no intention of making an evaluation based on the interview. It is clear that the decision to confiscate this man’s legal handguns was made before he ever arrived. The member was given no real choice. He was told he could give up being a Pagan and keep his permit and guns. Police told him that it is illegal to own a gun in New York as a member of an outlaw motorcycle club like the Pagans. Police said there was recent Supreme Court precedent that confirmed the law.

The man says he was told that as a member of the Pagans his only options were to either voluntarily terminate his permit and turn his guns over or his permit would be involuntarily terminated and he would lose all of his guns unable to transfer them to a legal owner. And he says they warned he could spend thousands on an appeal which he would never win and still lose his property. The member, coerced into an impossible choice, says he voluntarily relinquished his permit and handed over his legally owned property.

Although any attorney will tell you that you should always have an attorney when dealing with law enforcement, and incidents like this are exactly why, SCPD’s actions are deplorable and inexcusable. The right to associate as a member of a motorcycle club, including the Pagans, has been confirmed by case law. (See How Waco Is Being Used To Decimate The 1st Amendment JUNE 26, 2015). Unfortunately, there is no law against the police lying to you, it happens in criminal investigations all the time, and they often get people to relinquish their own rights.

This man did not commit a crime. Law enforcement is defining membership in a group they label a gang as a crime (a group that has validated 1st Amendment protection) with no judicial check on due process for that determination.

“Simply carrying a legal gun as a member of a motorcycle club, including a 1% club, is not a crime.” This seems abundantly clear when an individual possesses a permit. “The courts have concluded that motorcycle club associations and colors, including 1% clubs, are protected by the 1st Amendment. It is not illegal to be in a club, otherwise they could arrest an individual for wearing colors. By this logic, you could be denied your right to vote.” (See How Waco Is Being Used To Decimate The 1st Amendment JUNE 26, 2015)

“In a very real way, the fate of motorcyclists will serve as a blue print for other groups in the future. Disarming bikers is a strategy to cripple the rights base of one of the most visible and active grassroots social and political movements in America. Much of the movement’s efforts are to combat civil liberty abuses by law enforcement targeting motorcyclists. If bikers are successfully marginalized as criminals not worthy of baseline liberties, then the strength of our political movement exposing law enforcement abuses will be crippled as well. It’s a blueprint for social control in the 21st Century.” (See It’s Illegal For Motorcycle Club Members To Own Guns? that’s What Authorities Say August 25, 2015)

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Motorcycle Clubs Are Not The Boy Scouts – Does That Make Them Criminals?

By David “Double D” Devereaux

knuckle punch

A patch holder from Pennsylvania told me clubs aren’t Boy Scouts for sure. And we can’t act like we are. But we’re not as bad as people think we are. And we aren’t as bad as cops say we are.

I’ve been around clubs my whole life and I’ve been in an outlaw motorcycle club for over a decade, so I know exactly what he meant when he said clubs aren’t the Boy Scouts. Motorcycle club culture is rooted in rebellion. Many clubs were founded by individuals returning from war to a general society that had rejected them. But I also understand that clubs aren’t the criminal organizations they have been demonized to be. Unfortunately, the negative stereotype is fueling wholesale discrimination against motorcycle clubs and serious challenges to our way of life. A unified grassroots political response gives clubs the best hope of surviving intact another 50 years.

IT AIN’T THE BOY SCOUTS….

Men returning from war found brotherhood and acceptance in motorcycle clubs and created their own subculture that has survived more than a half-century. Motorcycle clubs come in all types from Christian to outlaw. What makes a club an outlaw club is the level of commitment to the lifestyle, not criminality. Outlaw club members consider themselves professional motorcyclists and enjoy the close-knit and rigid brotherhood clubs provide. The club is a top priority in a member’s life and serves as the primary social community as well.

In most clubs, members are like family. Other members are considered your brothers. Brothers you choose and that choose you. And just like other families, many clubs will do anything to protect their families. So it’s true. Disrespect a man’s family, a serious man, and there will likely be consequences. It might be true that it takes sticks and stones, and that names will never hurt you. But they just might get you punched in the mouth.

Most clubs just want to be left alone to ride and associate freely. Most club members are wary of authority. But being rebellious and anti-establishment does not equate to criminality. In fact, protecting anti-establishment speech and association is the highest priority of a free society.

BUT IT AIN’T GANGLAND EITHER

Motorcycle clubs are a far cry from organized criminal enterprises. They are, in fact, constitutionally protected associations. But since their inception, the generally conservative law enforcement fraternity has looked down on clubs as a rebellious fringe community. The history of profiling and discrimination is irrefutable.

motorcycle_clubs_being_rebellious

Statistically the stereotype is based on mythology. For example, more law enforcement officers are indicted on felony crimes every year than outlaw motorcycle club members. Most members of outlaw motorcycle clubs do not have criminal records. Many have concealed carry permits issued by the same agencies that turn around and call them gang members. The statistics simply don’t add up to the accusations.

Sensationalism is a powerful tool. Amplify the transgressions of the few in an attempt to define an entire class of people. But it is simply not reality. Not unless we consider all law enforcement to be an organized criminal enterprise. When an officer is indicted for a felony should every officer in their department be treated as a criminal or charged with engaging in organized criminal activity?

UNIFIED POLITICAL ACTION IS THE BEST SOLUTION

motorcycle_clubs_unified

The motorcycle club community, including outlaw motorcycle clubs, are becoming increasingly involved in the political rights movement in an attempt to respond to decades of abuse and discrimination. Club exploits are sensationalized and overblown by an opportunist news and entertainment media telling stories that sell more advertising. Only a unified and mobilized club community has a chance of turning the tide of public perception. Only a unified movement can generate the people power required for grassroots legislative change.

motorcycle_clubs_unification_article

Motorcycle clubs are under attack from a public relations and law enforcement perspective. This seems rather irrefutable. But there is power in numbers. Where clubs have unified real change has occurred. Knowing all of this, is there any other logical choice but to unify for our mutual survival?

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Police Use Fear to Justify Discrimination

By David “Double D” Devereaux

Waco Police_Promote Fear of Crime

The “Fear of Crime” has been used by law enforcement and government as a strategy to justify abuses of discretion and punitively targeting marginalized communities for decades. The actions of law enforcement towards motorcycle clubs is a clear example. The attempt to spread fear about motorcyclists in the minds of the general public through outrageous claims and sensationalized rhetoric is undeniable. (see How Waco Is Being Used To Decimate The 1st Amendment ).

WACO AND THE FEAR OF CRIME

The Waco incident has afforded a new opportunity for law enforcement to vilify an entire class of people based on the actions of the few. Law enforcement’s attempt to spread fear following the Waco shooting is both deplorable and false. Many news outlets reported that police “received credible reports” that “biker gang leaders” issued orders to “kill anyone in uniform.” The idea that any club would “green light” or give orders to “kill anyone in uniform” is both absurd and upsetting. These reports and assertions are based on absolutely nothing.

There is zero substantiation for any threats being made. In fact, a national officer from the Bandidos Motorcycle Club strongly denies claims by police that “biker gangs” involved have been ordered to “kill anyone in uniform.” Yet police also issued a bulletin warning all motorcyclists to stay off the streets of Waco because they couldn’t distinguish between a biker and those bent on criminality. (see How Waco Is Being Used To Decimate The 1st Amendment ). And if you think a current member is biased, even former members in bad standing publicly confirmed that these claims are ridiculous.

Claims of retaliation are irresponsible fear mongering, stereotyping a large community based on nothing real. But the implications of fear are real. Lives can easily be extinguished when those with assault weapons have convinced themselves, and everyone else, that bike clubs are a legitimate threat to society. This is obviously not true. A claim without a warrant is not valid. But it is the story being repeated everywhere. And it must be disputed across the board.

WACO’S IMPACT OUTSIDE OF TEXAS – USING FEAR TO JUSTIFY DISCRIMINATORY POLICING IN OTHER STATES

The impact of post-Waco fear on policing of motorcyclists is irrefutable.

  • In California, officers surrounded a police station and city hall because it was reported a motorcycle club would be riding through town. Waco was used as the justification. Absolutely no reasonable suspicion or evidence that any crime was going to take place existed. Pure fear based militarized policing that even scared average citizens. (see Bikers Met by Paramilitary Forces: Riding in California is Now Considered a Threat?)

  • In Virginia, police raided a motorcycle club charity while armed with assault rifles, combat clothing, military vehicles, and a sealed search warrant. The police then refused to reveal the warrant after the search and seizure of club property and left without explanation. (see Virginia Police State: No Motorcycle Club is Safe.)

  • In New Mexico, the Mayor of a small town publicly declared in a council meeting that, despite 15 years of an incident free Fire and Ice Bike Rally, the event ought to be discontinued because motorcycle clubs are violent and a major incident like Waco is not a matter of if, but when. Another example of an agent of the government blatantly making discriminatory generalizations about motorcycle clubs based on a completely unrelated incident that is nowhere near being resolved. Charges have yet to even be filed in the case, yet it is being used as a justification to target and selectively enforce the law based on a campaign of propaganda and fear.

  • In Idaho, based on unsubstantiated information subjected to zero scrutiny, a heavily militarized multi-agency force blockaded and harassed, with overwhelming force, hundreds of motorcycle club members and independents at an annual POW/MIA event. There were no arrests and there had NEVER been a problem in the events long history, including the clubs present this year. But law enforcement, in their own words, “lit them up” anyway, blockading all patrons inside, cordoning them off with military style equipment and weaponry. There was no attempt to conduct rational community policing or communicate. This is true even though event coordinators made it perfectly clear that there has always been an open line of communication with the clubs present. The police explicitly admit that their mindset was a militarized show of force to prevent a fictitious problem before it occurred, regardless of the undisputed history of peace and communication with clubs. (see Police Have Declared War On Motorcycle Clubs: Is Another Biker Massacre Imminent? )

These are but a few examples demonstrating how law enforcement is using Waco to justify more punitive and discriminatory policing tactics against motorcyclists. There is a laundry list of incidents growing daily. And there is a repetitive theme. Military style police actions targeting motorcyclists based on nothing more than stereotype and fear with zero reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that a crime is, or will, take place.

So why do police promote a fear of crime about bikers? What purpose does it serve? Kenneth Dowler from the Department of Criminal Justice reports, “Researchers argue that public fear and anxiety is inextricably connected with public pressure for solutions to crime problems.” The result of fear of crime campaigns “increase public pressure for more effective policing and more punitive responses to crime.” (see MEDIA CONSUMPTION AND PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARD CRIME AND JUSTICE 2003 )

The outcome of public pressure for punitive policies too easily leads to discrimination and targeting. According to experts in geography and environmental management “crime, violence, harassment and fear have clear roles to play in the spatial and social exclusion of marginalized social groups.” (see Place, social relations and the fear of crime: a review)

This is undeniably the experience of many communities from ethnic minorities to bikers, and exactly what is happening post-Waco. The fear of crime is “invoked at the level of governance in order to excite fear and promote support for punitive strategies. This notion reinforces the situation of oppressed groups on the boundaries of society.”

In simple terms, the fear of crime makes discriminatory profiling and selective enforcement of the law easier for law enforcement to justify. When the general public is scared of a community it is far easier to isolate and abuse them. This creates a vicious self-perpetuating cycle because the public’s response to fear is a desire for more punitive policing. Law enforcement needs enemies to justify budgets for military-style policing and mega-investigations. Capitalizing on a tragedy like Waco to promote a fear of motorcycle clubs across the board will most certainly yield higher budgets for law enforcement operations targeting bikers.

The only question remaining is what will bikers do about it? The Motorcycle Profiling Project believes that unifying all elements of the motorcycle rights community together for the common purpose of delivering a responsible and effective messages to combat profiling and discrimination, coupled with relief from state legislatures nationwide, may be the best opportunity the motorcycle club community has at surviving another half-century.

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Arizona Motorcycle Club Surrounded by Police for 3 Days

By David “Double D” Devereaux

ALMA MC NV Law Enforcement Harrassment_2_captioned

Law enforcement in Winslow, Arizona is guilty of grossly mismanaging public funds by mobilizing a multi-agency patrol and surveillance operation targeting a motorcycle club for absolutely no justifiable reason. This incident is another example of police targeting motorcycle clubs with military like equipment and surveillance, even in instances where there is absolutely no reason or probable cause to believe that a crime has, or will, take place. This incident is a microcosm into an epidemic occurring in Arizona and across America. Fortunately there are possible solutions. A law addressing the issue of motorcycle profiling has proven to be an effective tool in the fight against military policing and discrimination against 1st Amendment protected associations.

I recently received a letter from John Dreyfus, a friend, a member of ALMA MC and the Arizona Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs Designated Lobbyist. The ALMA MC was targeted by surveillance and an outrageous police presence during a 3-day celebration for a new charter held September 5th-7th in Winslow, Arizona The letter reads:

“New problems, we have a new ALMA MC charter in Winslow, AZ….None of the members up there have criminal records. We had a party to celebrate them becoming full patch members and the LE presence was outrageous. Not a single arrest or traffic stop during the three days that people were partying there. More evidence…”

The Department of Public Safety, Gang Task Force, and Winslow PD were all involved in the operation. An operation taking place for absolutely no discernible reason other than to conduct massive and visible surveillance on a club that has no felons, a club committing no crimes, and no reason to believe that a crime would occur.

Dreyfus describes the surveillance. “There were unmarked vehicles. LE in body armor. And a telescoping device that we took pics of. We weren’t sure if it was intercepting phone signals or broadcasting pics they took. There is one pic of a small group of LE at the corner with the statue. It looked like they were doing the tourist thing. Taking pics with the statue at Standing On The Corner Park.”

How much does a 3-day, multi-agency, military-style operation that results in zero enforcement of the law cost in public funds? This gross mismanagement of public funds counter-acts the extremely positive economic benefits of the club’s party on the community. According to Dreyfus, “Every hotel in town was filled. Businesses saw greatly increased sales.”

Independent of economics, the discriminatory mindset driving this operation is concerning. There is no other explanation other than stereotype driving the idea that overwhelming police presence and surveillance of clubs with no criminal records or history of criminal activity is necessary or appropriate.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident in Arizona. Indeed, there has been a long history of motorcycle profiling in Arizona. For example, in 2012, while visiting Phoenix to give a profiling presentation at an Arizona Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs meeting, law enforcement targeted this political gathering with visible presence and surveillance outside the meeting. John Dreyfus immediately went outside, asked them politely what they wanted, took pictures of them, and they went away.

Again, there was absolutely zero reason to believe that a crime was occurring, or would occur, a condition that should reasonably exist before law enforcement targets a political meeting. The only reason for law enforcement presence is a discriminatory profile of motorcycle clubs generally.

telescoping device_captioned

Confederation meetings are attended by Christian clubs, Veterans clubs, Woman’s clubs, 1% clubs, and plain old riding clubs. Confederation meetings are solely confined to legal and legislative issues that impact the motorcycle community. There is an attorney present at every meeting. There is no justification to target these constitutionally protected political gatherings.

The virtually cost-free solution is within grasp. The pattern of evidence proves that profiling is widespread, unconstitutional, and a gross misuse of public funds. This pattern of evidence creates an irrefutable argument for a law requiring all law enforcement in Arizona to adopt a written policy condemning motorcycle profiling and integrating the issue into basic training.

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Eyewitnesses Say Police Randomly Fired at Waco Bikers

By David “Double D” Devereaux

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Authorities in Waco continue their refusal to answer one of the most important questions about the shooting in Waco. How many of the 9 dead and 18 wounded were shot by law enforcement? There is a compelling societal interest in authorities releasing ballistics information confirming who shot who, not only for those accused in Waco, but for a country struggling with the issue of law enforcement militarization and illegal uses of deadly force. Most sources don’t believe that every person was killed or shot by police. In fact, some eyewitnesses specifically claim to have seen bikers shooting weapons. But regardless of how the conflict started, the criticism of law enforcement’s response is a legitimate social and policy issue. One of the main criticisms of militarized policing is the propensity to escalate conflicts resulting in more violence and death than would otherwise occur. There are very good reasons to suspect that that’s exactly what happened in Waco.

Eyewitness Accounts Say 2 or 3 Gunshots Followed By Barrage of Rifle Fire.

Although every story differs slightly, as is expected, there is one commonality among eyewitness accounts of the shooting in Waco. Every eyewitness says they first heard small arms fire, 2 or 3 shots, followed by a barrage of rifle fire. These accounts are independent of one another and come from those that were arrested and those that were not.

A number of these accounts come from veterans with experience in combat and weapon systems. These seem particularly important because they provide more than just a lay opinion relating to distinguishing rifle fire from handgun fire. Veteran eyewitnesses describe an unprofessional and unorganized response including randomly firing into a crowd of bikers.

Consider the following eyewitness accounts:

William English, one of the arrested, in an account circulated by his lawyer, said “I heard two pops that sounded like small caliber gunfire. Following that, I heard several bursts of assault weapon shots. I recognized the sound because I carried one of those weapons for six years as a Marine. That’s all the gunfire I heard. Then the police started screaming ‘Get down!’”

• Former U.S. Marine Michael Devoll of Fort Worth, who completed three tours of duty in Iraq, has survived an untold number of firefights. But he says the one he witnessed in Waco on May 17 will forever haunt him. Not just because he was arrested following the incident and held in jail for 22 days on $1 million bail, but also because of what he calls a “barrage” of assault weapon fire coming from police directed into a crowd of bikers….”I heard a few rounds of handgun fire and then, I would say, an overbearing suppressing fire of M-4 rounds,” Devoll said….Devoll says while police were responding to a dangerous situation, it appeared as though they were randomly firing into a group of bikers. “People lying on the ground, trying to get away from the gunfire,” Devoll said. “I saw a woman with her hands over the top of her head screaming. People running for cover. The way the cops came running in and doing what they did, it seemed like almost shooting aimlessly into a crowd of people.” (See “Decorated war vet critical of Waco police actions”, WFAA News, June 11, 2015)

Although one may want to question the accounts of individuals that were arrested, their stories are corroborated by other eyewitnesses that weren’t arrested and charged with engaging in organized crime.

Steve Cochran, a Navy veteran and member of the Sons of the South club, pulled into the parking lot facing the patio minutes before the shooting began. He was to help set up for the meeting of the Confederation of Clubs and Independents, a group that advocates for biker rights and motorcycle safety. “I heard one pistol shot. All the rest of the shots I heard were assault rifles,” said Cochran, who took cover behind a crane about 30 yards away. He walked the shooting scene with the AP several days later, showing what he saw and his vantage point. Cochran said he heard suppressed rounds fired by assault weapons, which sound different than a handgun firing.

Ron Blackett, a former Army and Coast Guard officer, reported hearing one or two pistol shots followed by a blast of assault rifle fire from where he was parked in a lot behind Twin Peaks.

• Another eyewitness not charged in Waco corroborates the account offered by Devol, that police were shooting into the crowd. In a letter describing the event, this Vietnam combat veteran writes, “Soon as [the fight started] the Waco police jumped out of their vehicles and started shooting into the crowd”

Independent Accounts of Police Response Demand Release of Ballistics Reports

There will certainly be differences in the eyewitness accounts of the many individuals that were present at the Twin Peaks in Waco on May 17th. But when, despite these differences, the independent accounts all agree that two or three handgun shots were followed by a barrage of rifle fire then questions concerning law enforcement’s response become a legitimate topic of discussion and part of the larger societal debate relating to law enforcement abuses of deadly force and militarized police responses.

picture 3_captionHow many were killed by police? How many killed by police were armed? How many injured by police were armed? Did the militarized police response unnecessarily escalate a fight in the parking lot? Did police randomly fire into the crowd, as corroborated by independent accounts, because they viewed everyone present as violent gang members? Did law enforcement’s discriminatory profile of bikers lead to an overkill situation that would have been handled differently if officers were properly trained in motorcycle profiling awareness?

Access to information relating to the actions of government agents and officials is a cornerstone of a free society. The longer authorities remain silent about issues of deadly force, particularly as a result of militarized responses, the more divided citizens become from the very institutions intended to protect and serve them. The Waco PD’s highly prejudicial and inaccurate narrative, a narrative unconcerned with prejudicing potential jurors, has been followed by silence. This silence is cracking under the corroborated statements by independent witnesses claiming that police randomly fired into a crowd of bikers as a response to a shooting. As citizens, we have a right to know how many people agents of our government shot, injured and killed.

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