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Group that organized biker meeting gets city proclamation

FILE - In this May 17, 2015 file photo, a McLennan County deputy stands guard near a group of bikers in the parking lot of a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas. The prevailing images of protests in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, over police killings of black men were of police in riot gear, handcuffed protesters, tear gas and mass arrests. The main images of a fatal gun battle between armed bikers and police in Waco, Texas, also showed mass arrests _ carried out by nonchalant-looking officers sitting around calm bikers on cell phones. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

Days after a biker shootout at a Texas restaurant, the same group that organized the motorcyclists’ meeting that turned violent received a proclamation from the Waco City Council designating May as “Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month.”

The council issued the proclamation Tuesday, two days after nine people were killed in the shootout at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. The proclamation was to be presented to Steven Cochran on behalf of the Confederation of Clubs, which had organized the Sunday biker meeting, but Cochran decided not to attend the City Council meeting, Waco City Secretary Esmeralda Hudson said Friday.

Cochran declined an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, but posted a picture of the proclamation on his Facebook page. In his post, he said he and Sandra Lynch accepted the proclamation in absentia.

Lynch couldn’t attend because she is one of about 170 people who were arrested after Sunday’s shootout. She remains jailed on a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity.

Restaurant footage viewed by The Associated Press shows the shooting began after a confrontation between two rival gangs in the eatery’s parking lot. Police said they returned fire after being shot at.

Some bikers have complained that police acted too hastily in making arrests and scooped up riders who had nothing to do with the violence.

In his Facebook post, Cochran praised Waco City Council members for their support of motorcycle safety but complained about the Waco Police Department’s characterization of the bikers at Sunday’s meeting.

“I felt it was prudent to not have a public display at the city counsel meeting after all being hardened gangsters according to the Waco PD we didn’t want to put anyone in harm’s way quite unlike the local police department did at Twin Peaks,” he wrote.

Hudson said the city issues the “Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month” proclamation annually. Nothing was said about the proclamation at Tuesday’s meeting, she said.

Also Friday, Texas lawmakers approved motorcycle safety legislation that supporters say was going to be discussed at the bikers’ meeting.

The measure, which now heads to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, would funnel some of the state’s motorcycle-related fees to state Department of Transportation campaigns that remind motorists to share the road and look twice for motorcycles. Some fees already help boost the Texas Department of Public Safety’s motorcycle education efforts.

“We need to be more visible to the general public, which these campaigns do,” said Ty Yocham, who was among five men wearing leather jackets and vests who watched from the Texas House gallery as the chamber approved the bill.

The men advocated for the legislation in place of three bikers who helped write the legislation but were among those jailed following the shootout.

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Associated Press writer Eva Ruth Moravec in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.

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