Waco

The Waco Shootout and the Stupid Distractions That Help Thwart Police Reform

If the cops treated Twin Peaks like a war zone would it have been a more socially just outcome?

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via CNN

This weekend's deadly brawl and shootout involving more than 170 alleged biker gang members at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, has seemed to capture the left's imagination, not for the gruesome details of the violence but because of the perceived differences between the way this story was played out, covered and engaged with and, depending on who you ask, either black on black violence or the police reform protest movement.

The comparisons to the police reform protests are the more problematic of the two. The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates seemed to make that comparison in a series of tweets Monday night that emulating right-wing reactions to the police protest movement. One curious tweet asks "Why won't America's biker gangs be more like Dr. Martin Luther King?" What is the comparison Coates is trying to draw? If there were violent protesters in Baltimore with legitimate grievances—and they were urged by some to be more peaceful—does Coates believe the bikers, too, had some kind of legitimate grievances at the Twin Peaks restaurant?  If he doesn't believe so, does he believe there are white people out there who believe that? I certainly haven't heard or read anything about either the bike gangs allegedly involved or anyone in the press trying to ascribe legitimate grievances to the thugs at the restaurant.

Coates, like other left-leaning pundits, also glommed on to the distraction of the moment about the supposed racially charged nature of the word "thug," asking why no one was calling the bikers thugs (except most of his hundred fifty thousand Twitter followers and the rest of the left-wing Twitterverse, as well as a good portion of the right-wing Twitterverse). The argument over thug blew up when some protests in Baltimore turned violent and began to be co-opted by the kind of people who want to riot and loot (like the two Baltimore corrections officers charged last week—what legitimate grievances could willing and paid participants in a system being protested against hold, and how would snacks at a convenience store come into play?). The argument was that thug was simply a code word for nigger. Tonight Show band leader Questlove made the point on Twitter after Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called rioters and looters who appeared in the streets the afternoon and evening after Freddie Gray's funeral on Monday, April 27, "thugs."

That weekend before, Rawlings-Blake appeared to be trying to keep cops on a hands-off approach to what were largely peaceful protests. After some violence on Sunday, the mayor lamented that while attempting to "make sure" protesters could "exercise their right to free speech," the city also "gave space" to those who "wished to destroy." Conservative pundits, and then the mainstream press, ran away with the comment as evidence that creating space to destroy was the mayor's intention. Perhaps that poor showing at reading comprehension and the subsequent media frenzy contributed to the decidedly more aggressive and pre-emptive stance taken by police in Baltimore that Monday, when cops reportedly shut down transit service around a hub students from around the city got home though and emptied buses—all because of a rumor spread over social media that there'd be a "purge" there that afternoon. Eventually some students started throwing rocks at cops—and some cops threw rocks back—and the situation deteriorated throughout the afternoon, with looting and rioting across parts of Baltimore. While that weekend saw the high-profile destruction of a police car, as did some of the protesting in the early afternoon Monday, by the evening the destruction mostly avoided government property, instead targeting local businesses and one church's $16 million "Transformation Center," where a senior citizen home, community and health center were being built. That night, an exasperated mayor, who at least in her mind thought she had done everything possible to keep Baltimore from turning into Ferguson, called those criminals destroying property and creating the political space—demand, even—for the National Guard to come in "thugs." 

And it wasn't just Questlove who accused Rawlings-Blake, and others using the word "thug," of actually wanting to say the n-word. Councilman Carl Stokes, who ran for mayor back in 1999, said the same on CNN. The distraction got even bigger when President Obama used the word "thugs" to describe the criminals who co-opted police reform protests, peaceful or otherwise, for their own violent ends. Questlove's still got a picture of himself with the president as his Twitter profile.

But the argument over what the word "thug" really meant was a distraction. It helped guide the discussion away from issues of systemic police violence arising from Freddie Gray's death and the sustained protests over it and toward the more emotional but less meaningful argument over whether thug meant nigger and who was a racist for it. Arguing about whether black lives matter or whether all lives matter is a cleverly constructed distraction, meant to give both sides a feeling of accomplishment while the system can go on destroying lives. It's a lot easier to lay all the problem of police brutality at the feet of hundreds of years of racism than it is to ask ourselves which policies, which laws, that we have supported and that our democratically-elected governments have passed, created the conditions where something like the death of Freddie Gray happened.

There's no guarantee that Gray would be alive even if racism were to have disappeared from the world just before his arrest—three of the officers involved in his death, including the driver of the van, were African-American. Rather than racism on its own, the policies emanating from the war on crime and the war on drugs, policies that have degraded the Baltimore police force's policing capability, created the condition where cops, white and black, chase after predominantly young black men—because there are so many rules both the cops and the young men know they may be breaking. The cops involved in Gray's arrest insist they believed the knife he was in possession of was illegal. It wasn't, but confusing knife laws give cops a way to justify interactions like the one with Gray. They also should not have chase after Gray just because he ran. So either less onerous knife laws, or stricter, constitutional rules of engagement for police, with real penalties for breaking those rules, may have prevented Gray's death, and both would bring us back closest to a state of constitutional policing. Instead, the Baltimore police department has several officers who have been convicted of crimes and remain on their force—because of privileges granted to them not by their race or by the white supremacy infecting their police department but by laws, written by men and women, into books and ledgers, laws that can, theoretically, be written out, just as easily. There's a very specific reason the cops involved in Gray's death had ten days to speak to investigators—without the threat of termination for not cooperating with their employers—and a very specific reason they remain on the city payroll: Because the democratically-elected government wrote such privileges into the law. In a democratic society,  people should also be able get such privileges written out of the law—in a republican society such laws should not have been permitted to pass in the first place. But isn't it so much more satisfying to complain about why rioters in Baltimore were called thugs but bike gang members in Texas weren't, even though they were? It's a much easier argument to have, over whether to use the word thug, because it plays into our pre-set racial sensibilities, than at is to talk about what to actually do to limit police violence.

But the "thug" argument, and arguments like it, isn't just a distraction, it impedes progress on the issue of police brutality. Many people on the Internet left complained about the differing treatment suspects in Waco got and protesters in places like Ferguson and Baltimore got. The police response in Waco appeared far less militarized than the response in Ferguson and Baltimore. An important caveat: police admit they may have shot a number of the bikers. Provided the dead were actually participants in the shootout, the shooting appears justified. But things aren't always what they seem. The Michael Brown shooting at first appeared unjustified—thanks in large part to the police department's lack of transparency after the shooting—but eventually the Department of Justice (DOJ) found Brown was most likely advancing toward the officer and had briefly taken control of his gun earlier in the altercation. In the distractions over whether Brown was an "angel" or not, whether he strong-armed a store clerk, and so on, the point of whether Officer Darren Wilson (who didn't know Brown could've been a suspect in a robbery) should have engaged with Brown and his friend, who were allegedly jaywalking, in the first place was lost. How strongly does the community in Ferguson want jaywalking laws enforced? Any time a police officer is asked, ordered, or decides to engage with a person who believes he is free the situation can escalate. A separate DOJ investigation found Ferguson's local government was using the police department and petty laws to extract a significant amount of revenue from the population it served ruled. It was a situation the Washington Post's Radley Balko found across St. Louis County. But the argument over the narrative around Michael Brown took up all the air in the room, even though whether or not Brown's shooting was justified was irrelevant to the wider issues the shooting brought up.

Like that issue of militarization. Officer Wilson wasn't a militarized police officer but the Ferguson and other St. Louis area cops deployed on the streets over the next days to deal with protesters were. Police in Waco did not appear to be nearly as militarized in their response. There didn't appear to be any tear gas used and no tanks on the scene. The obvious conclusion, from a critical race perspective, is that this is just naked American racism in action. But could there be something more going on too? Police in Ferguson responded to mostly peaceful protests by deploying their favorite military gear. Police in Waco managed to take control of a brawl and shootout, apparently without such military gear. So there is a way to deal with chaotic, highly violent situations without resorting to a militarized response. The White House this week announced a long overdue rolling back of some of that police militarization. It took the police response in Ferguson and the growing concern about police violence after that to get the White House there almost seven years into the Obama administration. None of this is to say that racism doesn't play a role in police violence. But Rep. Lacy Clay, and most of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), voted against an amendment to limit the transfer of military gear to local police departments. Of the seven (out of 41) CBC members who voted for the amendment, most were veterans of the civil rights movement. It ought to be a stinging indictment of the dangerous assumption that a politician will be clued in to certain issues, like civil rights or police brutality, just because of the color of their skin. After the fact, Clay said he never expected the militarized gear he voted for would be deployed the way it was in his community. That makes him profoundly historically illiterate and politically ignorant, not someone who ought to be representing anyone in Congress, especially not a marginalized community. You have to be able to anticipate unintended consequences and exercise restraint to prevent them, not ride on best intentions.

Complaining that the suspects in Waco weren't openly brutalized, weren't met with military force—even with the knowledge that police were able to control the situation without resorting to such excessive use of force—is in I want white teenagers shot in the back territory. Achieving racial equality in policing by extending systemic police violence deeper into white communities would seem to be a pyrrhic victory, particularly if the explicit goal is to ensure black lives matter. It's a lot easier to point at Waco and Ferguson and say "look, racism!" than it is to ask why the political leaders in the St. Louis area were so enthusiastic about accepting more and more military gear for their police departments and deploying it while political leaders in Waco  appear to have perhaps helped cultivate a more restrained police culture, or even why governments are more likely to deploy militarized police to deal with protesters than crime situations, and what that says about how much militarization is actually necessary or desirale? After all, the police brutality protests over the last year aren't the only time Americans have seen militarized police deployed to deal with protests. They've seen it, if they were paying attention, from Seattle 1999 to the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011, all pretty multiracial, even majority-white, movements.

The distractions get better.  Salon, for example, finds racism in the media not describing the massive brawl as a riot:

Nine people have died after a shootout between rival motorcycle gangs in Waco on Sunday, when gunfire erupted in the parking lot of a Twin Peaks restaurant in the central Texas city.

I use the terms "shootout" and "gunfire erupted" after reading numerous eyewitness reports, local news coverage and national stories about the "incident," which has been described with a whole host of phrases already. None, however, are quite as familiar as another term that's been used to describe similarly chaotic events in the news of late: "Riot."

How similarly chaotic were they? What's inaccurate about the descriptors used, which are more precise than riot? The objection to not using riot comes from the idea that "riot," too, might be a racially charged word. Yet every time a protest turns violent and the word "riot" starts to be used, sites like Salon trot out all the examples of how whites riot too, usually over stupid things. Mostly these are sports riots, which are generally called "riots" in the media. Here, too, liberals appear to be trying to prove a point other than the one they say they're trying to make. If whites riot, over stupid stuff, because they want an excuse to destroy things, why is it out of the realm of possibility that mostly peaceful protests over police reform could be co-opted by people who want an excuse to destroy things? The presence of those people shouldn't take away from the legitimate grievances of the protesters—but denying their presence even as rioters burn down community improvement projects makes it a lot easier for those really seeking to deny legitimate grievances to do so.

Oh, and here's a massive brawl in a casino in Queens described as a "massive brawl" with chair-tossing "combatants" where "all hell broke loose." And "brawls" and "shootouts" are what "biker gangs" do, sometimes over who gets to hang out at the local Starbucks. I get it—can it get any whiter? In Europe, biker brawls can include grenade attacks and someone once brought an anti-tank missile to a turf war.

Most bikers in the U.S., and around the world, are not criminals, but most are members of motorcycle clubs. Biker gangs call themselves motorcycle clubs too. When Sally Kohn complains that a Muslim can be labeled a "terrorist" after killing one person, and a black man can be called a "thug" just for getting shot and killed by a cop, but when 9 people are killed in a biker shootout the perpetrators are still only called a "biker gang," she misses not just all the white and black people calling the Waco bikers thugs but also the kind of discrimination law-abiding bikers face in society because they're all labeled members of "biker gangs," whether they're in lawful motorcycle clubs or in "outlaw motorcycle gangs" (OMGs to the feds). Bikers face stereotypes too. And bikers also come in all colors. The 170+ people involved in the Waco shootout were largely, but not exclusively, white, while lawful motorcycle clubs are also popular, and multiracial, in bigger cities. Members of any race might do something less than considerate or downright illegal on the road that's then used to stereotype all bikers as "biker gangs."

About 170 of the 192 alleged biker gang members arrested over the weekend now face charges of "organized crime resulting in death," in Texas a capital offense that could mean the death penalty for those convicted. Given the disappointment some on the left seemed to express that more brutality wasn't used to stop the brawl and shootout, it'll be interesting to see how strongly this case plays as an argument against the death penalty. Someone caught in the middle of this riot, who likes to bike and maybe fell into the wrong crowd could now face the death penalty for defending himself. It seems like a good example of how the death penalty can be too onerous. The death penalty matters to some on the left. Along with gay marriage, it matters enough to David Simon that he'd vote for former Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley for president even though he blames O'Malley for the awful state of policing in Baltimore (where black lives don't appear to matter).

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Watch Reason TV's "How Martin O'Malley Helped Create the Baltimore Riots"

 

And there's the other problematic comparison being made in the wake of Waco: finding a double standard in the way white-on-white violence is treated versus how black-on-black violence is treated. The (mostly white-on-white) shootout in Waco could lead to up to 170 people being put to death. There's been 96 (mostly black-on-black) homicides in Baltimore since the beginning of the year, but none of the killers will face the death penalty. O'Malley banned the practice in 2013. Most criminologists agree that capital punishment does not appear to be a deterrent to crime. Support for the death penalty, however, is highest among whites. It could be considered part of the white community's approach to white-on-white violence (except for the huge racial disparities; as with Lacy Clay's support for more militarized police in Ferguson but opposition to it being used on protesters, a lot of death penalty supporters don't intend the negative consequences of their policy preferences either).  The death penalty, though, certainly would seem to be the "white community" in Waco's answer to this weekend's white-on-white violence. There didn't have to be 170 capital charges filed within two days of the riot. Prosecutors are likely looking to get plea deals—but it's hard to argue they're not trying to send a message about (white-on-white) violence. So what's the point of this comparison, except to confirm your ideological fellow-travelers pre-existing biases?

The comparison between the way white-on-white and black-on-black violence is treated is problematic for another reason: black people talk about and organize around black-on-black violence all the time. When President Obama, who is black, speaks about black-on-black violence, and he started before he was president, the themes of broken black families and self-responsibility usually appear. Some liberal pundits don't like it, but by and large Obama is speaking the language of black political leaders around the country, whether they admit it when (mostly) white conseratives try to use it as a "gotcha" on police violence or not.  Ras Baraka, now the mayor of Newark, led weekly anti-violence protests in the city for years, where some protesters called for the National Guard to come in to deal with the street violence.  Last week Baraka announced a plan to "occupy the hood," where he is asking Newark men to join him to "hold court" in different neighborhoods three nights a week to stem the rise in homicides as the weather gets warmer, which could wipe out the drop in homicides seen between last year and this year so far. "I know some of us are better at complaining or wallowing in pessimism and hopelessness," Baraka wrote in one of part of the staff email released to the public, touching on the often unspoken but implied inconvenient truth in these conversations that there's only so much government can do to prevent homicides, and little on its own to thwart the development of homicidal personalities. Baraka has complained about Newark residents' unwillingness to deal with the "psychopaths" in their midst before, even suggesting residents should be finding killers themselves and bringing them to police. "Newark is our home," Baraka wrote. "We can't give it away to naysayers or those that wish to watch it crumble, or even the misguided that think destroying our city and its families is what makes them Newark." Black communities plagued by black-on-black violence aren't blind to the problem (you think destroying your city and being a "thug" is who you are, Baraka is basically saying), but when mostly white, conservative pundits bring up black-on-black violence when the issue is police violence, that's a distraction. And because it's an attack on black people, who are disproportionately the targets of police violence, it's easier for those concerned about police reform to identify the black-on-black violence canard as a distraction than to identify the endless arguments over whose a "thug" or whether cops shoot enough white teenagers as distractions.

But it's what makes bringing up white-on-white violence here so troubling: it strongly implies white-on-white violence, or black-on-black violence, or any other kind of privately-initiated violence is relevant to the discussion about police brutality and state-sponsored violence and the systemic reforms needed to limit that. The argument also shuts down important avenues of inquiry. Biker gangs, for example, can be involved in the drug trade, which fuels some of the violence as it does in inner cities. The fight in Waco allegedly started over a parking spot—and the meeting was reportedly being held over who could wear what colors. This is gang stuff in many parts of the country, irrespective of race. Officially, the weekend meeting in Waco was for a biker's rights organization to which motorcycle clubs belong. Displaying a bit of color-blindness when it comes to fear of gangs and reprisal killings, after the shootout police in Texas have warned of biker gangs coming to the state to kill cops—just as police in Baltimore and Jersey City have over the last year after prominent police killings in their cities.

Some of the bikers at the scene in Waco claim police shot first and at least one biker club blames an "outlaw club" that shouldn't have showed up showing up at the meeting. Police in Waco report the bikers shot at them first, and that's when police returned fire. Police report the preliminary investigation appears to show four of the nine dead bikers were killed by cops. No police officers or non-bikers were injured in the shoot-out. Is it possible Waco police shot first? Sure. But identifying so early on that four bikers were likely shot by cops does go some way in dispelling concern about a cover-up. So does the relative indifference of the "white community" to charges of police misconduct. Investigations played too close to the chest, and a lack of information available after a shooting, can often create tense situations, as happened in Ferguson when police left Michael Brown's body on the street for several hours while the officer who shot and killed him went home to clean up. The DOJ found the shooting justified—but the post-shooting process engendered no trust. In this case, mainstream police reform activists don't appear interested in finding out whether Waco police acted inappropriately, but rather in assuming the bikers had it coming to them because they were all in "biker gangs," and that police definitely acted appropriately, blaming racism for that particular justified outcome, and maybe even wishing that police hadn't acted so appropriately. And that does nothing to move much needed police reforms forward.

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    1. How long do I have to be in the club before I can get a hat like that?

  1. That weekend before, Rawlings-Blake appeared to be trying to keep cops on a hands-off approach to what were largely peaceful protests. After some violence on Sunday, the mayor lamented that while attempting to “make sure” protesters could “exercise their right to free speech,” the city also “gave space” to those who “wished to destroy.” Conservative pundits, and then the mainstream press, ran away with the comment as evidence that creating space to destroy was the mayor’s intention.

    Thanks for the context, Ed. Despite the hysterical huffing and puffing about that quote, it seemed not credible to me.

    1. Rawlings-Blake made the statement during a televised press conference, and one can quickly find her televised statement on YouTube. One doesn’t need two layers of interpretation of the mayor’s statement: the descriptive word “lamented” thrusted by one writer-slash-advocate while citing the work of another writer-slash-advocate interpreting the mayor’s statement. One only needs ears.

      Rawlings-Blake stated that the police, under her orders, deliberately stuck a “very delicate balancing act” between people exercising their right to free speech and giving space for people to destroy. She stated that she had “these types of conversations before” with police, and that she “made it very clear” that the police understood they “were to do everything they could to make sure the protestors were able to exercise their right to free speech,” a capitulation which required the police to permit the mob to destroy things. She then repeated the following, just to make sure there would be no confusion: “We worked very hard to keep that balance, and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate. And that’s what you saw this evening.”

      There is no need for a plan to “de-escalate” if the plan did not involve deliberately giving the mob the space to destroy, with knowledge that the mob would in fact destroy.

      1. Still, “knowledge” that some people (other than the lawful protesters) would destroy, if that is indeed what it was, is not the same as intending that they destroy. Not any more than the “knowledge” that enforcing habeas corpus will allow some guilty people go free represents intention that they do so.

  2. That night, an exacerbated exasperated mayor

    You’re welcome.

    1. My wife gets this one wrong all the time. When I correct her, she becomes exasperated.

    2. In fairness, I’m pretty sure the mayor did make the problem worse.

      1. Yeah, but who made the mayor worse?

  3. The reason the “left” or the “right” focus on (to many of us) the wrong thing in stories like this is that they don’t care about the “right” thing. They care about their pet issues and their TEAM memes. They care about if they can use it to demonize opponents. They are, quite simply, completely uninterested in the story itself. What they are interested in is how they can use it to their advantage and their enemy’s disadvantage.

    That’s it. To expect anything else from them is to expect the leopard to change its spots. This is a game to them. A very serious, all-encompassing game, but a game nonetheless.

    1. Agreed. I saw a bunch of people trying to yoke this incident to their pet issue to try to carry water.

    2. This. Some people have an idee fixe, and everything that happens has to support their view. And if reality doesn’t provide convenient things to support their view, they pretty much just start making things up. I saw one stupid tweet that tried to make a bunch of comparisons, like
      -“White people do this, and nobody gets arrested” (then the authorities announced they’d arrested almost 200 people…whoops)
      -“Nobody’s calling them thugs” (? I’ve seen them called that and worse)
      -“They’re not calling out the National Guard” (true, but they did have the local cops, the state police, and the FBI, and they closed down the whole shopping plaza)
      So, basically, America freaks out about Black crime and does nothing about White crime…except that this case doesn’t really provide any support for that.

      1. And your “idee fixe” is what, that there’s no problem here if you can find one counterexample of something?

    3. Left and right meant Red Terror and The Church in Jefferson’s day. Both are euphemisms for people who believe in devils and take what ain’t theirs, and differ only on the emphasis. Izzis the best we can do in 2015?

  4. I don’t understand your last paragraph. Should police not have shot first in an escalating riot involving literally hundreds of men who were rioting, involving at least hand weapons, around civilians?
    Several of the groups involved have worked hard at cultivating an outlaw image. What should happen when men who claim to live outside the law get into fights where people who aren’t outlaws congregate?
    I’m no police apologist, but the self-professed outlaws need to keep their heads down or keep to themselves. If citizens with carry permits had killed nine and injured eighteen bikers with no other injuries would we bemoan the outcome? I’m not sure I would.

    Leave aside the million dollar bails and the capital charges, the police seem to have been not terrible here. They didn’t seem to beat or terrorize the arrestees.

    1. From what I’ve seen so far, the police did act reasonably:

      1) They were worried that the meeting of so many different gangs would escalate into violence and
      ..a) asked the owners of the venue to cancel the event
      ..b) when rebuffed rather than violating anyone’s rights prophylactically, they stationed a sizable force to handle trouble should it erupt.

      2) During the melee no one who wasn’t in a biker gang was injured.

      3) They established control over the suspected participants, and once those participants surrendered treated them professionally.

      The pictures of the aftermath show bikers who are compliant waiting to be processed by the police. There don’t seem to be any episodes of the police brutalizing anyone. Thus, all the evidence I see is of a peace force using a reasonable degree of force to maintain order.

      Naturally it’s early days to come to definitive conclusions. All I can say is that so far what we see happening is very similar to what we would want to see in some minarchic utopia as the police do the minimum needed to protect rights.

      1. There is a cynical part of me that thinks that part of the reason the cops acted professionally and didn’t brutalize the gang members is because…it’s gangs. With factions in prison. And many members who are usually violent.

        My guess is that these cops don’t want to find themselves surrounded on a lonely road one night by “brothers” of a gang member they brutalized in custody. Or get shanked when going to see a suspect in prison.

        1. Perhaps. I am concerned that the bikers will behave as stupidly as “experts” say and try that. I’m not really excited about the State Troopers and Texas Ragers playing cowboys and bikers across Texas now that I’ve moved back.

        2. When we think of Waco, we think of the Branch Davidian siege and massacre.

          IIRC, the sheriff of Waco at the time has adamantly maintained that had the feds talked to him, he could have handled the matter of the $500 unpaid excise tax on weapons purchases with far less drama and loss of life, by simply talking to David Koresh and, if need be, picking him up during one of Koresh’s jogs.

          So it’s possible that we have here some people who actually understand their limitations and don’t have a culture of escalating violence until they win.

        3. I don’t think there is anything cynical about that at all. A couple of biker gangs operate in my hometown, when I worked in the prosecutor’s office I noticed they were always treated with more care than say the 6 black teenagers that think they are Crips. The difference, at least around here, is the bikers are actually well organized and capable of getting whatever revenge they feel like they need to get.

      2. They should have gone to the restaurant and shut it down instead of depending on some (pencil neck) manager to stand up to at least 170 armed (at least with a knife) 1%ers. That’s just negligence or dereliction of duty.

        1. You want to live in a country where the police can just shut down a business when they feel like it?

  5. I have friends and family parroting this nonsense. Not being a lover of the police I still want to ask, “soooo…how many people did police kill in Baltimore during the most recent unpleasantness?”

    1. At least one.

  6. With regards to the biker gang brawl in Waco, I believe in libertopia, there would be battle arenas (with cafeterias and restaurants!) and betting markets for duels.

    1. 150 bikers enter! 141 leave!

      1. 150 bikers enter! 141 leave!

        141….? I would so class action lawsuit you if charged me to go to your Biker Brawl Renaissance Joust and you only delivered 9 fatalities!

        What is this professional boxing?

        1. Like the “tournament lances” of yesteryear, today’s combatants are forced to employ only 9mm ball.

  7. ” meant to give both sides a feeling of accomplishment while the system can go on destroying lives”

    I’m still reading this post, but I’ll preemptively say that this may be the noise important passage.

    No one wants to question the very role of government, nope, just some bad seeds who need more diversity training.

    1. Speaking of distractions.

  8. ” (who didn’t know Brown could’ve been a suspect in a robbery) should have engaged with Brown and his friend, who were allegedly jaywalking, in the first place was lost. How strongly does the community in Ferguson want jaywalking laws enforced?”

    It’s not lost, ed, it’s ignored. One view questions the motivations of a cop and how he views young men of color, the other questions the motivations of The State. Which one’s gonna get play on the nightly news?

    1. Libertarians ascribing things to “the state” is beginning to sound to me like the liberals ascribing things to “society”.

      1. Aren’t both euphemisms for men with government guns?

  9. None, however, are quite as familiar as another term that’s been used to describe similarly chaotic events in the news of late: “Riot.”

    It sounds as if the violence in Waco was non-random. Not riotous.

    1. Are you telling me that words have meanings?

  10. The argument was that thug was simply a code word for nigger.

    So now we know that Ed has bigger balls than Robby.

    The comparisons are wrongheaded in numerous ways. Do you really want to draw comparisons between the youth of your community and organized criminal outfits? Do you want ‘black riots’ treated as harshly and decisively as this incident? Sheesh.

    1. It’s so apples and oranges it’s infuriating how people are trying to conflate the two incidents. 150 people are eligible for A CAPITAL CRIME. Are these leftist twists actually arguing that they want the same fucking treatment for the rioters in Baltimore?

      1. I liked the one I read complaining that there “were no mass arrests.” When I’m pretty sure everyone wearing an MC patch was summarily detained. En masse as it were.

      2. I think they wanted those 150 people summarily executed by police. After being subjected to a nickel ride, natch.

    2. I’ll borrow the Paul Mooney joke. I say it every morning in the mirror to keep my teeth white!

  11. “the point of whether Officer Darren Wilson (who didn’t know Brown could’ve been a suspect in a robbery) should have engaged with Brown and his friend, who were allegedly jaywalking, in the first place was lost.”

    This point is not so clear. First, they weren’t just “jaywalking” as in crossing the street not in a crosswalk. They were walking down the center of the road. Second, Darren Wilson testified that he heard the robbery call about the store, cigarillos, and a black shirted-suspect before ever seeing Brown and his friend. Then, when conversing with Brown and his friend, before any violence, he saw Brown holding cigarillos and his friend with a black shirt and, quote from Wilson, “it clicked for me” that these two were likely from the robbery. I do not believe these facts, if believed, add up to Wilson “didn’t know Brown could’ve been a suspect in a robbery.”

  12. Twin Peaks restaurant? How was the food?

    1. I don’t know, but this is the second one I know of to have someone shot by cops in the parking lot. So I’m just gonna steer clear out of an abundance of caution.

    2. Daaammnn good pie! 😯

  13. Thanks, Ed. You’re pretty much the only one I’ve seen so far who’s remained objective on this one.

    It’s amazing how quickly people who claim to value liberty abandon their values when it involves some one they don’t like.

  14. BTW, as of yesterday it still be reported that police were “still considering whether to charge any of those involved with murder.”

    Pretty obvious who opened fire and did the killing. I’m not going to mention any names.

    COPS.

  15. In Waco, was anything stolen, any businesses burned, or any innocent people injured? If not, then I think that the situation was completely different than Baltimore.

  16. “It could be considered part of the white community’s approach to white-on-white violence (except for the huge racial disparities, which as with Lacy Clay’s support for more militarized police in Ferguson but opposition to it being used on protesters, a lot of death penalty supporters don’t intend the negative consequences of their policy preferences either).”

    Has it become OK to use the word “which” as a conjunction like this? It drives me up the wall, but I seem to hear and read it all the time now.

    1. Looks like it’s missing a verb that “which” would be the subject of.

      1. Thank you. I was thinking it was me. Or that it was I, as the case may be.

  17. The writer’s comment about the mayor’s intent regarding giving people space to destroy being different than what the media reported is incorrect, in my view. She definitely said she walked a line allowing for peaceful protest yet allowing people space to destroy. It is possible she felt that was letting off steam that was needed. It is possible she felt they were justified. It is possible she felt there was no way to stop it without getting super heavy-handed. But, in no sense would one say she was taken out of context. She did not lament it. And anyway, no one says, I lament this.

    The writer appears to be giving her the benefit of the doubt, assuming no one could be such an idiot as she appeared. But, I’m not so certain.

    1. It’s only idiotic if you are sure she could have stopped the rioting without violating the right of protest. Since I assume you were not there, you cannot know that.

  18. If the cops treated Twin Peaks like a war zone would it have been a more socially just outcome?

    I wish I’d seen that subhead explored specifically in the body, because it left me wondering.

    Was it not a war zone? Was it not treated as a war zone? How should you treat a war zone?

    AFAICT, it was treated correctly as the war zone it was.

    1. There were already 9 dead. How many do they want, dozens?

  19. ” …someone once brought an anti-tank missile to a turf war.”

    “Knock Knock”

    “Who’s there?”

    “Carl Gustav”

  20. There is interesting thinking here in this piece. I must say, though, that the writing style made it very difficult to follow in many places. I don’t mind long sentences when they hang together, but these didn’t, at least not readily.

    To sum up, I guess: There is a whole lot we can do to improve our laws and policing without waiting for racism or racial bias to disappear, and we ought to be doing those things.

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  22. Whatever happened to Reason articles that were short, to-the-point and informative? Where do they find these people? in Tweetervilles?

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  24. thugs are wanabe criminals of any race while these bikers are past wanabe into full blown criminals

  25. The media did not refer to the bikers as thugs because the terms Biker gangs and outlaw bikers was very clear. No one had any illusion these were the Sunday afternoon groups of accountant and lawyers you see on the highways riding Harleys. However, what many do not realize is even those groups are forced to pay “fees” to groups like the Bandidos and Hells Angels to have the lower rocker on their colors of the state where they live. All outlaw biker gangs are huge criminal enterprises. The entire fight was not about a parking space or any other BS the police are claiming. The fight was over the Cossacks putting a “Texas” lower rocker on their colors as a way to stake their claim on territory in the state. In response, the Bandidos went to war. The war is about money which is the source of all wars.

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