Most of the world’s press is desperately trying to find a hook on which to hang the unfolding tragedy outside the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas.
Over an unknown span of time that was probably less than a minute, nine people were killed last Sunday. Serge Kovaleski reported in the New York Times this morning that eight of them were members of the Cossacks Motorcycle Club. The dead men are Jesus Delgado Rodriguez who was 65; Richard Vincent Kirshner, Jr. who was 47; Charles Wayne Russell, 46; Daniel Raymond Boyett, 44; Wayne Lee Campbell, 43; Manuel Isaac Rodriguez, 40; Jacob Lee Rhyne, 39; Richard Matthew Jordan II who was only 31; and Matthew Mark Smith to whom God gave just 27 years.
Who Done It
Police say only three or four of the 22 police officers, including a ten man Swat team, who had besieged the restaurant actually fired their guns. There are many shrill voices in the newz maelstrom. One chorus cries that none of the dead were shot by police. Another allows that four may have been shot by police. Sergeant Patrick Swanton, who is conducting this show with the glib aplomb of a network newz consultant, confides that nobody knows how many of the dead were killed by the police. Swanton does humbly allow that Waco Police and a Texas Department of Public Safety Swat team did something that stopped the fight that spilled out of the restaurant and into the parking lot, and so many innocent lives were saved.
Twenty-seven people were injured. Seven of them remain hospitalized.
Every television shot from Sunday’s crime scene, focuses on one or another policemen carrying an automatic weapon — usually some variation of an M-16. Swanton explains that the entire shopping center must be quarantined and guarded. Among the questions no one thinks to ask is whether any of this display for the news cameras is just a teensy little bit self dramatizing and performative.
Swat Guards Motorcycles
Facts in the case are slippery. Some large number of motorcycles and cars have been impounded. Call it 200 motorcycles and 100 cars. Cynics might explain the impounds as a way of punishing people who were at the forbidden, Confederation of Clubs and Independents brunch for being there instead of in church. Swanton explains that the impounds are simply one facet of a very, very, very thorough investigation. As all of these vehicles were trucked away to some top secret impound yard they were guarded by Swat. The presumption that underlies that performance is that if they were not guarded by militarized police roving bands of Bandidos might converge from all points of the compass to take them back – like a scene from the Brian Bosworth film Stone Cold.
One-hundred-seventy have been arrested for the crime of being at a biker brunch. Probably 170. For some time it was exactly 192. Then it was in the “mid 170s.” Then it was 165. At this morning’s press conference, Sergeant Swanton announced the correct number is 170.
The other important number is a one followed by six zeros. All 170 of the guilty brunch eaters are charged with “Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity.” The underlying assumption seems to be that because the men in custody were there they are accessories to murder. So far, no one in the mainstream news media has questioned those arrests.
What This Means
Instead America is focused on two pressing questions. First, how grave is the danger that faces the Waco police for bravely doing whatever it was that they did that did not include much shooting that somehow saved many lives and somehow led to the deaths of nine bad guys? The newz maelstrom screams that the Bandidos and the Cossacks lust for the blood of honest cops. The newz maelstrom shrieks that police in Texas have been green lighted, “essentially a gang sanctioned call for killing – as retaliation.” And so there are reports of “officers clad in ghillie suits on the roof of the Twin Peaks restaurant.” Lest the motorcycle menace return to the scene of its terrible crime with a lust for cop blood, police heroes must hide among the bushes on tops of buildings in shopping centers.
“Be afraid, America,” the newz maelstrom screams. “Be very afraid.”
The other angle the newz maelstrom has embraced is the allegedly racist nature of American newz.
“During the uprisings in Baltimore, I saw a flurry of tweets about black people disrespecting property and throwing rocks at police,” CNN Political Commentator Sally Kohn, wrote yesterday afternoon. “Now that these biker gangs have issued actual death threats, why am I not now seeing tons of Twitter posts about white people disrespecting the lives of police?”
Julia Craven began a rant in the Huffington Post this morning with: “Following a spate of white-on-white violence over the weekend in Waco, Texas, that claimed nine lives and resulted in scores of casualties and over 190 arrests, there has been a marked lack of interest in talking about where the event fits into the epidemic of such white criminal behavior in the U.S. – despite the fact that every year, more white people are murdered by white people than by any other group.”
In her fair and balanced way, Craven continued, “Granted, there are 201 thugs off the streets for the time being, but what about the rest of them?”
What Kohn, Craven and all the other voices in the newz maelstrom seem to miss is that blacks and bikers are both what totalitarian states like Hitler’s Reich, Stalin’s Soviet Union or Mao’s China called objective enemies. In such totalitarian states, one does not have to be suspected of committing an offense to get arrested. One only has to classified as being possible of committing what Hannah Arendt called “possible crimes.”
The investigators in Waco have decided that every one of the Waco bikers who brunch might have killed the nine dead men. So they are all being treated as if they did. There might be a story in that. But probably not as important a story as pretend threats, or the interesting costumes some police wear or the newz maelstrom’s shoddy record on covering the racial angle of white on white crime.