The bikers claimed the police invited them to guard the funerals
On Thursday, funerals were held for several of the 19 students and two faculty members of Robb Elementary School who were killed in a mass shooting last month. The funerals were private, but an area for reporters was established outside the cemetery where the press was ostensibly allowed to operate.
However, on the day of the funeral reporters found themselves being harassed by a group of bikers who claimed the Uvalde police asked them to block the press.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the Uvalde police and members of the biker groups threatened to arrest journalists if they left the designated press area. There were no reports that members of the press were attempting to leave the designated area.
Additionally, some bikers tried to block the camera of reporters on the scene and followed members of the press around, according to the outlet.
One of the groups present, the Guardians of the Children, issued a statement following the funerals saying that none of its members “physically obstructed” the press and claimed they were not there at the request of the police.
“Our only goal in Uvalde is doing just that, allowing these families to have privacy in their time of grieving,” the organisation’s board said in a statement. “We are not there to intimidate the press or anyone else, but we will do our best to help provide the privacy these families need.”
The executive editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Nora Lopez, told CNN that her photographers were confronted by bikers while they operated within the designated press area.
“The bikers were the ones who told us they were there on the invitation of the police,” she said.
She said the bikers told her photographer they were there to “protect the families,” but she noted that the families did not need protection from her reporters, who were staying on public property away from the private funerals. She said she had reached out to the Uvalde police to confirm if they had invited the bikers, but she has not gotten a response.
Ms Lopez said that not only were the bikers trying to prevent reporters from doing their jobs, but they were also trying to prevent families who did want to speak to the press from speaking out, telling them to “move along.”
The biker incident is the latest incident to stir criticism of the Uvalde police department, which allowed an 18-year-old gunman to stay inside Robb Elementary for 90 minutes before a Border Patrol team rushed in and killed him.
Parents and the public have questioned why the police did not act sooner.