“Waco & a New Social Contract”
Nine people killed, 170 arrested on a Sunday afternoon and the town I first called WAH-COH (Waco, Texas) makes the news on an otherwise quiet wasteland Sunday (no NFL football, it’s out of season).
Waco, Texas, is known as the place where former President George W. Bush has his little rancho, the home of Baylor University and the place were religious fanatics died 22 years ago on the day I made my first appearance hosting a radio talk show (I substituted for Michael Reagan on his national radio show).
Now, the Sunday Massacre between rival motorcycle gangs (the Bandidos and Cossacks gangs) where two motorcycle punks started a fight in a restroom that spilled out into the Twin Peaks restaurant where guns were drawn and the shooting started.
I first visited Waco in October, 1949, when my new Step dad drove us there to see one of his brothers. When we drove past Baylor University, I asked what it was; he told me and as it turns out that was the first institution of higher learning I ever saw. I saw my second institution of higher learning the next day in Stephenville, Texas – Tarleton State Teachers College.
It was the next year that in one fell swoop I saw my third, Whittier College (Richard Nixon), my fourth, UCLA (Jackie Robinson), my fifth, USC (O.J. Simpson) and what turned out to be my future alma mater, San Diego State.
Waco was a small town then. I wasn’t impressed because I came from Southern California which itself was small at the time but we didn’t need storm cellars, cellars that scared me.
Back to the Sunday Massacre at Waco.
Motorcycle gangs are everywhere. Some years ago my police lieutenant brother led a raid on an El Cajon, California bar in which the Mongol motorcycle-gang congregated. The Mongols objected to being forced to lie down face first on the filthy floor and threatened a shootout with local, state and federal officers armed with shotguns and automatic rifles. A firefight broke out and miracle of miracles, no one was shot. Motorcycle gang members are notoriously bad shooters.
The gang shoot-out in Waco is proof of that. Local, state and federal peace officers, including off-duty officers shopping in the mall where the Twin Peaks restaurant is, massed outside the restaurant and though hundreds, thousands of bullets were fired, there are no reports of any officers being wounded or killed. The nine dead were gang members as were 18 wounded.
170 arrested, over a hundred weapons confiscated and warnings that the gangs had “green-lighted” their members to engage law enforcement officers wherever they found them. Waco is an armed camp today.
Readers will remember Waco for the 1993 incident where a Branch Davidian compound was raided and attacked by local, state and federal officers that resulted in numerous men, women and children dying at the hands of attacking government officers drawn to the compound by federal officers being killed by armed members of the armed religious cult of “Branch Davidians.”
Until this weekend, the most exciting thing to happen in Waco since the Branch Davidian incident was Baylor University football star Robert Griffin III.
Waco and violence will now be interchangeable words. But there is a lesson to be learned here.
Los Angeles reportedly has 100,000 gang members. They are mostly Latino gangs (Mexican and Salvadoran) but with a sizable Black presence (Crips and Bloods) and some Russian and Armenian gangs. They are usually better armed than police forces.
Gang violence is everywhere in Los Angeles. It peaked in 1992 when the Los Angeles Riot broke out when four Los Angeles police officers were wrongly found not guilty of viciously beating a Black man, Rodney King. 53 people died in that riot and neighborhoods of Los Angeles were burned to the ground. Massive looting by Blacks, Salvadoran and Guatemalan “Hispanics” in South Central Los Angeles was de riguer. The only gangs that came out of the riot with some honor were the amalgam of Mexican gangs in East Los Angeles (East Los) where Catholic priests and gangs put out the word, “no looting.” These well-armed gangs patrolled the streets of East Los and there was no rioting, no arson fires and/or gang killings. They were so effective that the police and sheriffs were free to go to where the arson and murders were occurring in South Central, far from East Los.
Nonetheless, Waco 2015 gives us an example of how to handle murderous gangs and protect innocent people.
We should invite all LA gangs to the LA Coliseum, give them gifts of M-16 and AK-47 automatic rifles, grenades, bayonets and all the bullets they can use and turn them loose behind locked gates to compete for a million dollar prize for the last man standing.
That would be cheaper than billions spent on law enforcement to combat the gangs and the vicious way of their lives that threaten the peace we all prefer.
Call it a “New Social Contract.”
Contreras formerly wrote for Creators Syndicate and the New American News Service of the New York Times