The Banana Republic Is In Texas Too

As the scandal of the Texas biker shootout unfolds, one Texan victim says he thought Banana Republic arrests only happened in New York or Chicago.

Back in May I pointed out that there were conflicting accounts about the biker shooting in Waco, Texas. The Twin Peaks restaurant contradicted basic claims that the police made, and many of the people arrested as participants in organized crime had no criminal record. One group accused of being a criminal gang by police, actually received a commendation from the city.

So what is going on?

NPR recently broadcast an astounding story that interviewed one of the persons who were arrested. He insists he and his wife were there and ducked for cover when the shooting started, having no idea how it started or why. Walt Weaver says his wife, Ester, came to meet him at the restaurant.

As people were milling about and greeting each other, Ester parked her bike, started to light a cigarette and walked toward her husband.

That’s when Walt heard the first shots.

“I did not see where they came from. I stood there for a second,” he recalls. “I’m like, just that whole second in your brain where you go, ‘Are you kidding me? It’s a Sunday afternoon in the middle of Waco in Texas. This is not downtown Baghdad.'”

[…]

When the shooting began, Walt says, he bolted toward a little grassy hill at the edge of the parking lot. Ester did the same.

“I looked to the right and I saw Walt on the ground as well,” she says. “And I was like, ‘OK, we’re safe. He doesn’t look like he’s hurt or anything.’ And that was that.”

Police told everybody to stay on the ground.

“If I remember right, there was one policeman, he was pointing his weapon at your back,” Walt says. “The other one would come to you and ask you if you had any weapons on you. You would say either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ “

For Walt and Ester, the answer was “yes.” They both had new Smith & Wesson five-shot revolvers. They say they didn’t draw their guns that day. Both have concealed-handgun licenses and carry their guns most of the time.

Eventually the two were rounded up, handcuffed with zip ties and bused with hundreds of other people to a nearby convention center.

“The assumption was that they were gonna keep us. We were gonna make witness statements. ‘What did you see? What didn’t you see?’ ” Walt says. “And then we were gonna go home.”

But that didn’t happen.

Walt and Ester say police did question them a little but did not read them their rights. Then, around 3 a.m., they were herded into buses again and taken to jail.

“So I remember as soon as I got off the bus and he got off the bus, I went to give him a kiss,” Ester says. “And the guard pulled me and pulled him, and we’re like being pulled away as we’re trying to kiss each other. And we never got to kiss. And then that was it ’til I saw him again 18 days later.”

So in Waco you are arrested for being at the scene of a shooting and get eighteen days in jail. As far as we can tell, the only thing that might have added to the arrest was the fact that they both legally carried and possess five-shot-revolvers on their persons that had not, in fact, been fired.

Bond was set at a million dollars for each of them.

The Weavers hired a lawyer (who I doubt represented them for free), and got their bond reduced so that they could get out of jail.

But still, Walt and Ester are on a curfew, they can’t associate with other members of motorcycle clubs, and they could still be indicted. Walt says he can’t believe this happened in his state.

“This is Texas,” Walt says. “This is a good Republican red state. They don’t violate people’s rights here. Take that to Chicago, New York, not here.”

Walt, I’m sorry to break it to you, but Texas has unaccountable police departments just like those other places. You don’t get to escape the police state just because of your heritage. I wish it were not so, but that is the way it is.

NPR spoke to Sgt. Patrick Swanton of the Waco Police Department. His response to the Weavers’ situation: “They will be allowed to have their say” in court.

Again, lawyers aren’t free. Beating a false accusation is not guaranteed. Nothing about the Weavers’ right to a trial makes it okay for the Waco PD to engage in Banana Republic arrests.

This is the police state we live in now. From sea to shining sea.