About 20 motorcyclists protest mass incarceration of biker suspects
May 23, 2015, 12:14 pm
About 20 motorcyclists stood in front of the McLennan County Courthouse about noon Saturday to protest the arrest of 170 suspects in the Twin Peaks shooting that killed nine people.
Ferrell Surette, 47, said he and other protesters from the Houston area have no motorcycle club associations but know some of those arrested. He said they are “just regular motorcycle guys who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” referring to the meeting of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents that was to take place May 17 when the violence occurred.
Protesters claimed such meetings have happened regularly for as many as 18 years without problems.
The protesters arrived at the courthouse in pickup trucks and cars and contacted law enforcement about their plans to gather. Many said they were friends from the hot rod community who just happen to also own motorcycles and feel passionate about the issue.
They held signs that read “Motorcycling is not a crime,” “I am not a gang member,” “Due process” and “Free the innocent.”
A few cars driving past the site honked and expressed support while sheriff’s officials, including Sheriff’s Capt. John Kolinek, sat watching from a nearby parking lot.
Ric White, 48, a machinist from Trinity, said most of the group aren’t in clubs because “We just do our own thing. We just like riding motorcycles.”
Frank Ballard, 47, of Plantersville added, “None of us were in book club or drama club either.”
White said he came because he wanted to “heighten awareness of the other side of the story. It’s a chance for those locked up to have their voice heard.”
Sheriff Parnell McNamara visited the group, offering words of support and understanding. He declined comment on the investigation but said he appreciated their peaceful protest.
He called Sunday’s events “very brutal,” adding “These murders that happened this past week shed a very bad light on motorcycle riders.