The First Amendment to the Constitution states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Waco Police Department and other police departments blatantly tried to prevent a peaceful assembly and public officials have slandered the attendees ever since.
The majority of the 176 people arrested after the Waco Massacre were arrested because they were wearing motorcycle club indicia, or insignia, and such insignia is a constitutionally protected form of expression – even in Texas. Current case law can be succinctly summarized as: “Implicit in the right to engage in activities protected by the First Amendment is a corresponding right to associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends. This right is crucial in preventing the majority from imposing its views on groups that would rather express other, perhaps unpopular, ideas. Clothing identifying one’s association with an organization is generally considered expressive conduct entitled to First Amendment protection.”
The Fourth And Fifth
The Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
One hundred and seventy-sex persons were seized by Waco and other police forces on May 17 and in virtually all of those cases the arresting officer had no idea who that person was or what he had done. In most cases the seized person had done nothing illegal.
The Fifth Amendment states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
All of the Waco arrestees were in fact charged with the capital crime of murder and to date not a single case has been presented to a grand jury. They have all been deprived of their liberty and their property. Numerous citizens who were not arrested have been deprived of their property and McClennan County, Texas has successively argued in the court of public opinion that it would unreasonably inconvenience the county and the state to allow this unknown number of people due process. Waco officials have also brazenly stated that defendants in the case were being held until “they cooperated.” The context of those public statements implies that “cooperate” means making statements the police want the defendants to make.
Six, Eight And Fourteen
The Sixth Amendment demands on behalf of the people that: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”
Numerous defendants have been denied the assistance of effective council. They have mostly been left to rot in jail and the charges against them are vague.
The Eighth Amendment states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
One hundred seventy-six people were arrested and held on bail of $1 million each. In order to meet that bail amount, each of the defendants would be required to pay a bail bondsman a fee of $100,000. So effectively, police were able to impose a punishment of a $100,000 fine by fiat. As of June 3, the average listing price of all homes in Waco was $170,181.
The Fourteenth Amendment, passed after the abolition of slavery, states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Officials in Waco have made it clear that the arrestees are being treated differently from other accused criminals because of their associations with fraternal, social and political organizations that are centered around recreational motorcycle riding. Waco has sent the message that bikers pose a greater danger to society than child molesters.
The Constitutional issues that resulted from public overreaction to the Waco Massacre trouble many Americans who are also outraged by the lethargy of those who advertise themselves as defenders of law and individual liberty. Mutliple lawyers from Dallas and Fort Worth have publically stated that they are not professionally interested in what is happening in Waco because the cases will not pay well and Waco is too far to drive.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas did not even react to this astounding crime against civil liberties until June 7 when Terri Burke who is the executive director of the Union issued a cowardly, 182 word press release which was more about “minorities” and roundups of undocumented immigrants than the bikers in Waco.
The ACLU did react a day faster than the National Coalition Of Motorcyclists. NCOM actually had the chutzpah to say it had “reserved its reaction waiting for Waco Authorities to sort through the details about what happened that tragic afternoon.” (Chutzpah is usually defined as killing your mother and father and then demanding mercy from the court because you’re an orphan.) NCOM announced it was “hiring a former Texas Ranger to learn the truth as to who was responsible for the violence at our Texas Region 1 COC&I meeting and expose the many violations of basic human rights of those arrested and who continue to be held.” NCOM seems unfazed by numerous anecdotes by eyewitnesses that strongly suggest that most of the dead and wounded were shot by Texas Rangers armed with machine guns.
The press response to the aftermath of the Waco Massacre has also been timid. Just today, 23 days after the arrests, the New York Times managed to choke out the words, “some of the men and women caught up in the largest mass arrest of bikers in recent decades believe the justice system broke down in Waco and officials delayed and mishandled their cases.”
It is a fatuous and sloppy think piece that substitutes generalizations for specifics and that is careful to give equal time to the local police propagandist. “’We don’t have a reaction to the opinion of people who we believe we have probable cause to arrest,’ said Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, a spokesman for the Waco Police Department. ‘It’s commonplace for arrestees to complain about being arrested. Our investigation is ongoing and continuing, and the justice system is working in the way that it should.’”
The Times reporter, Manny Fernandez, also allows Swanton to lie that, “the autopsies of the nine dead were not yet complete and the investigation was continuing.”
Yo, Manny! Know how you can tell when Swanton is lying? His lips are moving.
Ernest Hemingway. who early in his writing career worked for newspapers in Kansas City and Toronto, once told George Plimpton, “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.” It’s a shame that Hemmingway didn’t live to see Waco. The look on the old guy’s face would have been priceless.