What’s Different About The Waco Gang Shooting?

Photo: Rod Aydelotte/AP Photo.
More than 150 people are being held after the massive biker gang shootout that happened in a Waco, TX parking lot Sunday afternoon, and while police collect evidence and investigate whether there are any ongoing threats, many writers have already pointed out that a gun fight that killed nine and injured 18 has gotten more muted coverage than recent protests against police brutality. Hundreds of bikers from rival gangs gathered in a sports bar parking lot on Sunday to settle scores, and they came prepared; the AP reports that police found guns, knives, chains, clubs, and other weapons at the scene. Gang members had their bail set at $1 million, and some of them could face capital murder charges.
On Monday morning, Akiba Solomon at Colorlines posted a rundown of how the fight has been covered by outlets large and small. "No Thugs at Scene of Biker Gang Rumble," is  a long list of questions about word choice, police behavior, and cultural stereotypes at play in the media. Salon also compiled its own list of what words different outlets used; smashing a window at a CVS is a "riot," for example, but a massive gang shooting could be a "ruckus." The Colorlines piece makes it impossible to ignore: well-known gangs planned a confrontation, assembled in broad daylight, and terrorized a commercial strip, but they were allowed to sit quietly and wait to be taken to jail after the shootout ended. Last week in Minnesota, police pepper sprayed a 10-year-old boy at a peaceful protest. And in Baltimore, a teenage boy caught on film smashing a police car during unrest there had his bail set higher than the police officers charged with murdering Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old whose death sparked the protests. One depressing similarity? Just as in Baltimore in April, in New York in December, and in Madison last week following the decision not to charge an officer who shot a Black teenager in March, rumors are swirling that police officers could be targets of violence in Waco in the coming days — the latter coming straight from a Waco police sergeant speaking with the Houston Chronicle. None of the concerns that surfaced in other cities turned out to be real threats; whether the heavy gang presence in Waco means they are more credible this time around remains to be seen.

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