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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Separating fact from fantasy in Waco

Motorcyclists vilified, but tragedy shouldn’t have happened........
By Nick Benson
Contributed content

Posted Jun. 15, 2015 at 11:19 AM

After reading the fabrications and fantasies that Froma Harrop wrote in her column entitled “Who Are These Outlaw Bikers” that printed in the May 26th editions of the Desert Dispatch and the Victor Valley Daily Press, I felt so repulsed that I felt it was my duty to write this article with the facts, not the fantasies.
I have been riding motorcycles for close to 50 years. I am on the Board of Directors of ABATE of California, which is a registered 501c7 Motorcyclists Rights Organization (MRO) that deals with legislative issues involving motorcyclists. I am a member of Bikers Of Lesser Tolerance (BOLT), which is a group of people that deal with judicial issues related to motorcyclists. And I am a member of the Coalition Of Independent Riders (COIR). The “U.S. Defenders” group is identical to COIR, except those members are all club members (patch holders). COIR and the U.S. Defenders send out “Calls To Action” (CTA’s) to all of our members when a motorcycle issue, a natural disaster, or any other issue of importance requires action. I am not a member of a motorcycle club, however, between my political and judicial affiliations, I do know a great many members of clubs (patch holders) from the Christian Motorcycle Association to the Blue Knights (law enforcement club) to 1%er clubs. Unlike Froma Harrop, who asked a college professor who claims to have “studied” the Bandidos Motorcycle Club in his classroom about the Waco massacre, I went to the source, i.e. the motorcyclists themselves.
Contrary to Harrop’s claims (and that of some news media), this was not a meeting of outlaw bikers to discuss turf rights. The meeting in Waco was a Confederation Of Clubs (COC) meeting. The exact definition of the Confederation Of Clubs is: “The Confederations Of Clubs is a grassroots political and legal movement affiliated with the National Coalition Of Motorcyclists (NCOM). COC’s are solely focused on biker rights. There are Confederations Of Clubs in almost every state and they have been peacefully meeting and organizing for over two decades. Each Confederation Of Clubs includes a wide range of diversity, including military clubs, Christian clubs, clean and sober clubs, women’s clubs, 1%er clubs, firefighter clubs, bikers against child abuse clubs, vintage clubs, and plain old riding clubs. And some even have law enforcement clubs. California has seven such COC’s that meet regularly throughout the state. Violence at these meetings is strictly prohibited. As mentioned in the official description of a COC, women’s clubs are welcome. This debunks Harrop’s fantasy of women having to be subservient to the men. The meeting places are selected based on the size of the buildings — they must safely fit 100–500 people, not as Harrop fantasizes “in Hooters type establishments.” In fact, the COC meeting I attended was held in a VFW hall. I attended one COC meeting because my grandson completed the California Motorcycle Safety Course and as a Junior ABATE member, NCOM attorney Richard Lester reimburses the cost of the course to the Junior ABATE member. Safety is a huge topic and concern at these COC meetings.
I will not fill this column with speculation or hearsay. I was not there nor was Froma Harrop. So I am writing based solely on first-hand information that includes but is not limited to the initial police reports and people that were there. The facts are as follows: There is no official report yet of what set off the alleged altercation inside the restaurant. There were video cameras and police have said that it may take up to two years of investigation to analyze them and reveal the facts. Anything else printed or stated in the media is hearsay.
The ATF, FBI, and local Waco Police Department had the building surrounded BEFORE the meeting ever started.
Most, and possibly all, the dead were killed by law enforcement with shots to the head, neck, and upper chest. Waco police are saying that a final count of exactly how many were killed by police may take up to two years.
There were 170 arrests made at the scene. Anyone wearing a patch — even Christian Motorcycle Association, women’s clubs, bikers against child abuse, etc. — was arrested and charged with “organized crime”! Each of their bails has been set at $1 million!
A $1 million bail means that each of the arrested must either pay in full or forfeit $100,000 to a bail bondsman!
There were ZERO members of the general public killed or injured.
When you hear of discrimination, I doubt that bikers ever come to your mind. But did you know that just two years ago ABATE of California had to lobby and fight tooth and nail via AB 1047 to outlaw government (taxpayer) paid “Motorcycle Only Checkpoints” that allowed law enforcement to pull over anybody on a motorcycle and run warrant checks, safety checks, and anything else simply because they were on a motorcycle?
California became only the fifth state to outlaw this abuse of authority. Many other states still allow it. This year many MRO’s were behind AB 334 which would outlaw the profiling of motorcyclists. California legislators last week shot AB 334 down as “too expensive”! Trust me, discrimination is alive and well when it comes to the motorcycle community. An incident such as the massacre in Waco should not be used to stereotype bikers anymore than a cop involved in a wrongful shooting should be an indictment of all cops, a teen shooting up a school should be an indictment of all teenagers, or any other tragedy should be used to stereotype any group of people. Because of her discriminatory, misguided content in her biased column, Froma Harrop should be ashamed to call herself a writer.
So why are motorcyclists so feared and despised by government? Quite simply it is because we believe in freedom, God, country, and the Constitution. Most biker events begin with the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance. We do not need nor do we want to be babysat by the government. We are patriotic freedom fighters who are organized and we vote. Obviously all of these traits are a very serious threat to our government!
I have posted here the official U.S. Defenders Call To Action (CTA) verbatim. You should notice that nowhere in this official Call To Action is mention of “killing cops” or anyone else. Nowhere is there mention of burning down cities. Nowhere is there mention of doing anything illegal. Nowhere is there excuse making or denial of an incident. Remember these things, your group could be next!
U.S. Defenders Call To Action – May 22 Taking Action Against the Waco Tragedy What is this CTA about? Following the tragedy in Waco, 170 individuals were arrested, charged with participating in organized crime, and given each a $1 million bail. Although there are currently insufficient details to determine exactly what happened at Twin Peaks, there is ZERO DOUBT that the majority of individuals arrested are not responsible for any violence. The majority of those arrested do not have a criminal record.
This discussion was a Confederation Of Clubs and Independents meeting solely intended to discuss legal and political issues. It was not, as has been reported, a gang meeting to discuss turf. COC meetings have been occurring in Texas and nationwide for decades without a single violent incident. The myth being purported is simply false.
Video from inside the restaurant clearly shows the majority of bikers running away from the shooting and even helping civilians get to safety. Remember, law enforcement was on the scene and should have a clear picture of the aggressors and victims. This should not be a guessing game. But it appears the Waco PD arrested the majority of eyewitnesses and rights activists present at a publicly promoted political event.
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, 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.
$1 million bail for each of the 170 individuals is baseline corruption. Bail is intended to ensure that an individual attends court and does not flee. Extraordinary bail is being used as a punitive measure in Waco. It has been reported that few, if any bondsmen in Waco will cover a $1 million bond. In effect, bail is being used to keep innocent people incarcerated and cut off from their families and places of employment. Many have already lost their livelihoods simply due to accusations and conjecture.
It is imperative that average American citizens are not stereotyped as criminals simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The national biker community urges all relevant officials in Texas to reevaluate this massive injustice and make corrections. Charges on the majority of the 170 are clearly specious and should be dropped so these individual victims of overzealous law enforcement may return to their families and begin the process of healing and recovery.
What can I do? Call, Email, and fax the following people, demanding the immediate release of all these innocent families, friends, and patriots that are being held unlawfully in Waco, Texas.
White House of the United States — Comments: 202456-1111; Switchboard: 202-456-1414
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — Phone: 512-463-2000; Email: governor@state.; Fax: 512-463-1849
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — Phone: 512-463-0001; Fax: 512463-8668; Email: dan.
Texas Secretary of the Senate Patsy Saw — Phone: 512-463-0100; Email:; Fax: 512-463-6034
Texas Supreme Court — Main phone: 512-4631312; Fax: 512-463-1365
Texas Sen. Brian Birdwell — Phone: 254-772-6225; Fax: 254776-2843; Email: brian.
Waco Mayor Malcom Duncan Jr. — Phone: 254-299-2489; Email: wacomaryor@wacotx. gov; Fax: 254-750-8032
Waco City Manager Dale Fisseler — Phone: 254-760-5640; Email:; Fax: 254-750-5880
Waco Sheriff Parnell McNamara — Phone: 254-757-5000; Email:
Waco Police Department — Phone: 254-750-7500
Waco Criminal District Attorney Abel Reyna — Phone: 254-757-5084; Fax: 254-757-5021
—Nick Benson is a Barstow business owner and motorcycle enthusiast.