This was not an episode of the highly entertaining television series Burn Notice or Sons of Anarchy. This was reality.
By now you are likely aware of the sequence of events. Two to three warring biker gangs were invited to interact in a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, TX. What supposedly began as a verbal fight in a bathroom begat a fisticuffs battle in the dining area, which begat a guns and knives showdown in the parking lot leaving 9 dead, several more wounded, and more than 100 arrested.
And as was the plot of a Burn Notice and Sons of Anarchy episode, once fighting began, more crews took to bikes and to I-35 in order to defend honor and brotherhood. We ride, we die.
As someone who spent the better part of 11 years calling Waco home, let me make a few observations about the social climate of such a scene.
1. Waco is a good town full of good people. By and large people love Jesus, want to be moral, and want to do good. Waco is a town with citizens that fit into a number of categories including entrepreneurs, church planters, Baylor bears, missionaries, the homeless, military veterans, and coaches. The Branch Davidians and this national embarrassment do not speak to the reality of the community. This situation, much like the Branch Davidian crisis, is an example of outsiders coming to bring a negative light on an otherwise great city.
2. We should not be surprised that Twin Peaks restaurant is an epicenter for nefarious activity. Emily Mills, the CEO and corporate soul of Jesus Said Love (a ministry to women trapped in the sex trade industry) has put it quite succinctly in this recent blog post:
If you know anything about Twin Peaks, you know it’s in the same vein as Hooters. Not officially part of the sex industry, right? And yet many of our [sex industry] women transition here to wait tables when they get tired of taking their clothes off. One girl even told us, “I have one old man who comes into Hooters just to touch my butt. I let him because it’s easier to deal with him than some of the jerks in the club.” And so, the cycle of objectifying women and even sexually assaulting them goes unchecked. Times like today, places like this become hotbeds for violence: because where you permit injustice to one, you run the risk of permitting injustice for many…even putting an entire city at risk.
I think it wise for any community to think twice about granting permits to places like Hooters, Twin Peaks, Tilted Kilt, etc… Maybe it is a bit of an overreaction to point to this isolated incident and cry injustice. Or, maybe it is this kind of isolated incident that requires thinking minds to consider the question, “Is this an isolated incident, or a glimpse into the kinds of small evils that occur at restaurants like these everyday of the week?” See here and here for a snippet of the kinds of things that occur here on a weekly basis.
3. Don’t mess with Texas. Seriously, do not mess with Texas. At one of my previous churches in Texas I discovered that all of the deacons went through CHL training. Which means that every week, our entire deacon body was packing in the worship service. When I asked the head of the deacons as to why his deacons were packing he said, quite simply, “Because we will not let something like Columbine happen here.”
Texans, by and large, don’t play around when it comes to the safety of their communities. As the biker gangs discovered, one does not simply bring guns to a gunfight in Texas. If the deacons are packing, you can bet the swat teams have substantially more force available. One sergeant basically said that he would not recommend that any other bikers make their way to Waco after news of the situation got out. Um, yeah. They would have to fight through Baptist deacons just to get to the police just to get arrested.