Despite the characterization by police that the afternoon gathering at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas that led to Sunday's bloody shooting incident was a gathering of criminal biker gangs with violent intent, the meeting appears to have been a legitimate, organized gathering of motorcycle riders meeting to discuss political issues.
The group that met was the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents (CoC&I) and a look at that group's website and history gives a very different impression of the group's purpose and goals than what has been said repeatedly by Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton.
Swanton has been a central media figure, conducting several press conferences since shootings that left nine dead and dozens injured happened on Sunday. Swanton's statements have been echoed by the media, creating an image of a get together of thugs converging on Twin Peaks in an event obviously fraught with danger that authorities tried desperately to stop until they were foiled by the uncooperative restaurant owner.
An AP report on Tuesday gives what has been the now-standard media narrative:
The "gathering of criminal bikers" story was even used to justify the $1 million bail that the 170 arrested bikers were each handed. From the same AP report:Five gangs had gathered at the restaurant as part of a meeting to settle differences over turf and recruitment. Prior meetings had been held at the restaurant, and managers there had dismissed police concerns over the gatherings, he said.
"They were not here to drink and eat barbecue," Swanton said. "They came here with violence in mind."
Despite those claims by Texas officials of drinking, partying and violence in mind, the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents website and other information give every impression that the group's meeting on that Sunday was legitimate.McLennan County Justice of the Peace W.H. Peterson set bond at $1 million for each suspect. He defended the high amount, citing the violence that quickly unfolded in a shopping market busy with a lunchtime crowd.
"We have nine people dead, because these people wanted to come down and what? Drink? Party?" Peterson said. "I thought it was appropriate."