“Status Quo, sir? Why, that’s the Latin for the mess we done got ourselves into now…” – Texas Ranger testifying from the witness stand
Somewhere in the Global Electronic Village – The battle lines are clear.
CNN’s excellent documentary on the “Texas Biker Brawl” that aired on Monday, May 16, the eve of the one-year anniversary since the massacre at Twin Peaks, focuses on the full frontal assault on the First Amendment – and all the rest of them.
Freedom of association, expression, and assembly, the right to keep and bear arms, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, a guarantee against having to testify against oneself, the right to a speedy trial and an attorney and compulsory means of discovery – all are at stake in this monumental dispute between a feared and in some quarters despised biker culture, and the forces of law and order.
It all reminds one of another story on another day, a Sunday.
As a half-dozen candidates stumped for the 2006 primaries one Sunday afternoon at Jim’s Motorcycle Shop in Axtell, a hostile Baptist preacher burning with zeal and anger – his poll rankings showing him dead last in the heap trying to unseat State Senator Kip Averitt – spoke up in answer to a biker’s question about profiling.
Mike “Big Leg” Dixon, whose Texas Wheels chapter had patched over to form a new Bandidos outfit riding out of Bellmead, had mentioned that fast food franchises such as Jack In The Box and Wendy’s automatically locked their doors when his club rode on the lot, and refused them service in the drive-thru. Could the candidates do something about that, if elected to the Texas Legislature?
The old boy, whose visage and posture just oozed a pugnacious air, placed his hands firmly on the lectern and said, “Son, sooner or later, you will have to take responsibility for who you are and who you are with and what you are doing. Until you do, there is no help for your problems.”
You could have a pin drop; “You could have heard time crawl,” as singer-songwriter John Hiatt said in his hit, “Paper Thin.”
It really wasn’t what folks wanted to hear, to say the least. This was a meeting of the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association, an organization that kept a full-time lobbyist on the job at Austin – Sputnik – who goaded then State Senator Jerry Patterson into co-authoring and sponsoring the Texas Concealed Handgun Law and helped shepherd it into its passage.
Both Sputnik and Patterson said it wasn’t what they wanted, but it was they could get.
People kind of looked at the toes of their boots, the light fixtures, big red tool boxes and shiny Harley fenders for awhile, bemused, fuming with the reality of the injustice as evinced by this Bible-thumping bigot with nothing to lose, a loser who was running dead last against a kingmaker – a rain-making tax expert with his own plane who consulted with some of the biggest wigs and deepest pockets in an oil-rich state that might as well be a member of OPEC, along with Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and parts of New Mexico and California.
The awkward moment passed, but the war goes on.
Following CNN’s fast-paced and comprehensive review of precisely what happened and its aftermath, Hempstead attorney Paul Looney said it best and with the greatest economy of words.
Asked by CNN Correspondent Ed Lavandera if any of the three defendants he represents will ever see a trial date, he said, in a word, “No.”
In agreement with Lavandera’s analysis, that the “epicenter” of the war against motorcyclists and their rights is in San Antonio, the administrative seat of the Western District of the U.S. District Court for Texas, Looney said the state’s indictments are there to “maintain the status quo.” The real work is being done behind the scenes by a joint federal task force of FBI and ATF agents named “Operation Rocker Arm.”
One of the three Bandidos national officers named in a federal indictment for a laundry list of charges including extortion, murder and various other types of racketeering, National President Jeff Pike scoffed at the allegation that his worldwide, trade-marked organization “declared war” on the Cossacks.
He snorted, “What’s that, an act of Congress? How do you do that? Write them a letter?”
“Big Pete” James, former president of the Chicago Outlaw Motorcycle Club, who served as a point counterpoint biker spokesman throughout the broadcast, laughed and said “The Bandidos? They’re not a problem. All you have to do is stay out of their way.”
Some highlights from the 41 minutes of audio track preserved here from the presentation:
- A Cossack identified only as “Dean,” his face and voice purposely distorted, said “For some people, this thing isn’t over. He accused Bandido Jake Carrizal of deliberately steering his bike into a Cossack when he arrived, something Carrizal denies.
- “Dean alleges it was a Bandido who fired the first shot.
- Waco Chapter President John Wilson, owner of Legends Cycles, alleged that police purposely denied first aid and transport to hospital in ambulances held at by for two wounded men, “Mohawk,” and John Kirschner, both severly wounded. They lived a half-hour and wound up bleeding out.
- Bandidos President Jeff Pike said “one uniformed cop” could have prevented the whole thing by standing on the sidewalk. “They promoted it,” he added, by lurking in the background, filming, and with their assault rifles at the ready, locked and loaded.
- The dispute over Texas rocker arm patches arose when Bandidos assaulted and beat a Cossack outside an Abilene restaurant in 2013. A Bandido accused of stabbing the man was exonerated. Matters began to come to a head in a 2015 assault at a Gordon, Texas, truck stop, then peaked when a group of Cossacks allegedly attacked a lone Bandido at Lorena, forcing his scooter into a highway blockade barrier and beating him with a pipe.
- John Wilson alleged he and others lay on the floor of the Convention Center in handcuffs for the first 18 to 19 hours of their detention.
- Cossacks claim the reason for the dispute was the demand by Bandidos that clubs in the Confederation of Clubs “pay dues” to the Bandidos – or else forego membership.
- Bandido Jeff Pike concluded that “I would doubt there’s going to be any more problem down the road.” He expressed surprise that the Cossacks were at Twin Peaks on Sunday, May 17, 2015, because, “The Cossacks are not members of the COC.”
All in all, the Cossacks are reported to having alleged that they believed there was truce. They came to the Confederation of Clubs and Independents meeting at Twin Peaks Restaurant seeking peace.
Asked on camera about the future of the indictments he is holding, McLennan County Criminal District Attorney said only, “We’re not done; we still have a lot more work to do, and we’re doing it.”
An associate of Paul Looney, Abigail Anastasio, will file a motion on Tuesday, May 17, seeking the disqualification of Reyna, First Assistant District Attorney Michael Jarrett, and Assistant District Attorney Mark Parker.
Knowledgeable court observers speculate that the dismissal is sought because the prosecutors prepared the affidavits of warrantless arrest used in charging the first 177 defenants to be arrested, then presented them to a Detective Chavez of the Waco Police for his signature. Chavez was not there. He came to the case from another location where he was working, allegedly because no other officer on the scene would sign the affidavits and present them to Judge Pete Peterson, who was serving as Magistrate and set bond on each defendatnt at $1 million.
In effect, it may be argued that this turns their legal status from that of prosecutors to witnesses who may be subpoenaed, examined directly, cross examined and redirect examined. They should either recuse themselves, or face disquaification.
The showdown is scheduled for high noon on the courthouse steps.