Monday, May 18, 2015

Major Biker Shoot-out in Waco as President Obama moves to lessen police fire power across America

“Twin Peaks” meets “Sons of Anarchy” in Waco  —   Lots of guns, lots of gunshots & lots of bodies  —  Cops pretty much looked on for a while  —  Biker Gangs "green light" shooting at cops

Meanwhile Obama moves to disarm local police  —   Police response to Ferguson led to review  

Community members "have voiced concerns about what has been described as the 'militarization' of law enforcement due to the types of equipment" deployed 

—  But don’t events like Waco show that some incidents do require a heavily armed response

—  Obama is doing a major roll-out of his new local policing initiatives in a speech in Camden, NJ

It seems that big stories about guns and police activity against U.S. citizens come out of Waco, Texas.  Here’s the latest:

“Police have arrested and jailed more than 165 members of rival motorcycle gangsand were on the watch for any more violence Monday morning after nine people died in a Sunday afternoon shooting at at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco [ by mid-day 5/18/15 the number of those arrested had risen to 192]....   All arrested suspects have been charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, but some could face more charges as the investigation continues....  The nine bodies of gang members who died in the Sunday afternoon parking lot shootout at Waco’s Twin Peaks restaurant have been taken to various morgues for autopsy....  Bullet-riddled vehicles left behind by customers and employees still sat in the parking lot between Twin Peaks and Don Carlos restaurant but were being moved to forensic laboratories for investigation Monday morning....” (See “More Than 165 Jailed After Nine Killed In Biker Gang Shooting” by “Team Coverage,” 5/18/15, 10*KWTX/ CBS []).

This story is still emerging, with police claims of non-cooperation by local businesses and others, on the one hand; and counter-charges being leveled by local business people and media  that the police and other law enforcement  had been incompetent in failing to act sooner, after it had become known that so many “Bikers” and known “Biker Gang” members had assembled at the same place at the same time.

According to the KWXT report, “...  Police and troopers were in the parking lot trying to secure the area and protect citizens when a fight broke out inside the [Twin Peaks] restaurant and spilled into the parking lot.... [T]he fight quickly escalated from fists and feet to chains, clubs and knives, then to gunfire.... Gang members were shooting at each other and at police and officers at the scene fired their weapons, as well....   By the time all was said and done, almost every local law enforcement agency, including surrounding counties, had police at one scene or another and both state and federal lawmen were on hand, as well....


The total casualty count is problematic and likely to fluctuate throughout the day on Monday and possibly later into the week. The KWXT coverage indicated that  “... [s]ome of the 18 victims who were not pronounced dead at the scene were taken by ambulance to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center, which later was placed on lock down, but officials at Hillcrest said they had no comment....   Some were sent to other hospitals in the area as well.... Later reports indicated one of those taken to Hillcrest died there


Yes, I followed the old adage, “If it bleeds, it leads....”   However, there might be an even bigger news story emerging today, with President Obama’s appearance and remarks today in Camden, New Jersey.  Here’s that buzz.

According to several news outlets in the mainstream media,  “President Obama is banning local police departments from receiving a range of military-style equipment from the federal government -- from grenade launchers to bayonets to certain armored vehicles -- as he implements the recommendations of a panel that examined the controversial gear giveaways in the wake of the Ferguson riots....  The White House announced Monday that Washington would no longer provide some military-style gear while putting stricter controls on other weapons and equipment distributed to law enforcement. The details were released as Obama prepares to travel to Camden, N.J., Monday afternoon to meet with youth and law enforcement, and give a speech....  Nine months earlier, scenes of heavily armed police in riot gear dispelling racially charged protests in Ferguson touched off a debate about federal programs that let local law enforcement apply for such equipment....”  (See “Obama announces restrictions on distribution of military-style equipment to police”   5/18/15, Fox News/ []; see also “Obama to Limit Military-Style Equipment for Police Forces” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis, 5/1/15, NY Times []).

The folks at Fox News added this: “... The White House initially suggested Obama would maintain those programs, but an interagency group found "substantial risk of misusing or overusing" items like tracked armored vehicles, high-powered firearms and camouflage could undermine trust in police....”

According to the New York Times, “The ban is part of Mr. Obama’s push to ease tensions between law enforcement and minority communities in reaction to the crises in Baltimore; Ferguson, Mo.; and other cities.... [A] report from [a policing task force that Mr. Obama formed late last year in response to the crisis in Ferguson] cited the police response to the Ferguson unrest as an example of how the “militarization” of police departments can lead to fear and mistrust. In addition to prohibiting some equipment outright, officials said, Mr. Obama accepted the group’s recommendation to impose new restrictions on other military-style items, such as wheeled armored vehicles, pyrotechnics, battering rams and riot gear, and more stringent requirements for training and information collection for departments that acquire them....”

Similar information was provided by the Washington Post this way: “The banned items are tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, ammunition of .50-caliber or higher and some types of camouflage uniforms, according to a report released by a White House working group that made the recommendations. Other equipment, including tactical vehicles, explosives and riot equipment, will be transferred only if local police provide additional certification and assurances that the gear will be used responsibly, according to the report....”  (See “Obama administration bans some military-style assault gear from local police departments” by David Nakamura, 5/18/15 []).


The White House released details of the actions [limiting equipment to local police forces] in advance of Obama's speech Monday in Camden, N.J., where he will highlight a wide range of administration initiatives to fight crime, improve police-community relations and improve transparency in policing ( See “Obama bans some military equipment sales to police” by  Gregory Korte, 5/18/15, USA Today []).

On that score,  the Washington Post gave this report with a Camden byline:  “....  The announcement [to limit the transfer of some style of military equipment to local police forces] came as President Obama traveled here to Camden, N.J.,  to highlight his administration's strategy to help reform local police departments, including efforts to increase the numbers of officers on patrol and the use of body cameras. The White House has said the administration will spend about $75 million over the next three years to buy about 50,000 body cameras that will be worn by police....”

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