Last weekend’s deadly gunfight between rival motorcycle gangs in a popular shopping center, revelations about the massive number of weapons involved and growing concern for the innocent possibly swept up in the arrests of 170 or so at the scene all promised to make an already unique holiday weekend even more surreal for Wacoans.
Memorial Day weekend is a powerful hybrid of an occasion. First, it inspires us (or should) to honor the battlefield sacrifices of those who fight our wars, good and bad, even as more and more of us are willing to let less than 1 percent of our population assume such grim burdens.
The weekend is also a festive prelude to a long summer. In a society that remains among the hardest-working in the world, some try too hard to cram the best of American life into three days, complete with cookouts, family reunions, mini-vacations and household chores.
But the holiday weekend in Waco also finds many of us exhausted, confused, stressed and perplexed as we try to digest an unlikely event in our town that seems to raise more questions by the day, even as our public officials show unusual resolve at transparency. Several of our readers have correctly praised police for being forthright.
Still, it’s been wearing for all who love our town and want our public servants to get this right. There’s no rulebook for what happened at Twin Peaks. It’s not just that we want to show the rest of the nation we can acquit ourselves in such a situation. We want to reassure ourselves that we can truly address a complicated situation with justice, expediency and honesty.
This weekend is one for remembrance of war dead who protect our daily way of life. It’s a time for some of the happiness that our Founders recognized as fundamental to American independence. But it’s also a time to re-energize our batteries so we can begin tying up loose ends in a messy situation that stunned the nation.
This week our criminal justice system must redouble itself and begin sorting out for release those individuals guilty only by association, not deed or intent. No one can blame police for the massive arrests made — not after a gun battle that left nine dead and 18 injured and had diners diving for cover. Now it’s time to make sure no one’s in county jail who quite obviously doesn’t belong.
This week businesses in Central Texas Marketplace can chart commercial strategies to make up for lost sales from being shuttered in the shootout’s wake — and maybe we, the great American consumers who drive the powerful engine of our capitalist society, can help. Certain other establishments may want to re-examine policies about clientele and public safety.
Ramifications from last Sunday’s chaos will be felt over many months. Families will grieve. Court dates will be set and reset. Policymakers will ponder. But our town’s momentum endures. And as the nation’s attention falls elsewhere, let us steel ourselves today to pursue the next chapter.