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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

TEXAS - Updated: Hundreds of bikers protest at courthouse


Texas -
Update 2:50 p.m.:
About five people who say they are part of a group called "Come and Take It" showed up at the rally openly carrying rifles. They said they do not own motorcycles and arrived in cars.
Many of the bikers took pictures, gathered and chatted while holding their signs. By 2:45 p.m. many of the bikers had left the area.
Update 1:56 p.m.:
McLennan County Sheriff's Capt. John Kolinek says there are about 500 bikers gathered for the rally and protest in front of the courthouse. Groups are still arriving, however.
Many are carrying signs demanding freedom for the bikers that remain jailed in the Twin Peaks shootings and question police tactics that day.
Update 1:36 p.m.:
The groups have gathered in front of the McLennan County courthouse where the street has been blocked off by the city of Waco to keep traffic away from the protesters.
Sheriff's deputies are working on an official crowd estimate but it appears to be a few hundred. This post will be updated as soon as an official number is known.

Update 12:51 p.m.:
After a stop at Denny's for lunch, the group headed downtown to the McLennan County courthouse. Another large group of bikers is said to be headed in from the Dallas-area and other protesters are waiting for them.
A Tribune-Herald reporter lost the main group of bikers because they began blocking intersections with their motorcycles and running red lights through Waco. (Updated: While the reporter did not see a police escort with the group, videos shot by residents and posted on social media show a police car blocking an intersection near Interstate 35 in Lacy Lakeview for the bikers.) There were no run-ins with law enforcement.
The rally began peacefully Sunday morning with a visit from McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara, sheriff's deputies and Bellmead police officers.
Update 8:26 a.m.:
About 50 bikers, some wearing T-shirts that read "I'm not in a gang," have gathered for the protest rally.
John Bostick, 62, of Athens said he's with the group 2 Million Bikers. He said Sunday morning's ride is to reinforce that motorcyclists are not criminals.
"We've got a bad reputation that comes in part from the TV show 'Sons of Anarchy.' They're nothing like us," he said.
A McLennan County prosecutor, however, on Friday offered a glimpse into what he says video evidence shows of the May 17 Twin Peaks shootout, which included "executions" of rival bikers.
Update 8:05 a.m.:
About 16 bikers have gathered in the Sam's Club parking lot.
Motorcyclists from across the state were planning to meet Sunday morning and ride through Waco as a show of protest to the handling of 177 bikers arrested after the May 17 shootout at Twin Peaks restaurant.
The Waco Freedom Ride is set to begin at the Sam’s Club on East Waco Drive before riding through the city in a mobile rally.
The motorcyclists organizing the event maintain 90 percent of the bikers jailed and facing a $1 million bonds were not guilty of any crime. The bikers were each arrested on a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity for the bloody shootout that killed nine people and wounded 18. All those dead and wounded were bikers despite the fact that the melee happened at a crowded restaurant at noontime.
The rally is to protest actions taken by the Waco Police Department and local judges. At least 53 of those arrested have been released after their bonds were reduced, while another three bonded out on the $1 million amount.
The group plans to meet at the McLennan County Courthouse on Washington Avenue at 12:30 p.m.
Lorena resident Tiffany Teeter, 22, said she planned to attend the rally in hopes to gain the attention of local officials about the massive number of people who support the jailed bikers.
“Honestly I believe what they have done arresting this 170 plus bikers is completely wrong,” she said. “I think it is completely illegal.”
Teeter said she thanks God that her father’s motorcycle broke down the day before the shooting, because they would have been riding into the area during that time.
Teeter said she doesn’t know any of the arrested personally, but she has been riding with bikers since she got her own motorcycle at 18 years old.
“For me and most bikers, motorcycles isn’t just a hobby,” she said. “Riding isn’t just what you do in your car. It’s a lifestyle. I am a biker, and I will tell anyone that.”
Many people have a negative perception against bikers, and Teeter said, she hopes she can help change that.

“I go on so many benefit rides and do something during Christmas to raise money for the children,” she said. “There is so much bikers do for the community that people don’t talk about. I would like people to know what we do.”