Remember Waco


'You could have arrested me jogging as I jogged up and down the road. You could have arrested me at Wal-Mart . . . this ain't America anymore when the ATF has that kind of power to come into anybody's home and kick doors down.' ~ David Koresh (1959-1993)

Ten years ago Saturday, on the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord which began the American Revolution, the United States Government executed 73 innocent Christians. Of these, 30 were women and 22 were children; 41 were of African, Hispanic, or Asian descent. Although there had been no trial, the Government put each one of them, quite literally, to the torch.

It began on February 28, 1993, when the Government's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms tried to shoot its way into the Mount Carmel Center in Waco, Texas, a huge building which also served as both church and home for the Branch Davidians, an outshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists, which had attracted committed followers from several countries; in fact, 29 of those who would be murdered in April were not American. The Government claimed David Koresh, the leader of the church, possessed illegal firearms. But while Koresh never hid himself and often went into town alone, and while he had invited the Government into the church to inspect these weapons, the Government instead decided to invite television crews to film its agents attacking the church. Word of this impending attack reached the Davidians before Government agents did, however, and the well-armed Davidians were prepared.

The Government agents did not knock. They did not announce themselves. Instead, they began shooting indiscriminately, not only from the front into the church but also from helicopters circling above. In the fight that ensued, six Davidians and four Government agents died. More agents would have died if the Davidians had not ceased fire and allowed them to withdraw.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation then took up the cause. They pushed back the cameras, which had filmed the initial attack from the very front of the church, allowing them to film only the front of the church. For seven weeks, the Davidians were isolated, surrounded by armed Government agents who often threw flash-bang grenades at people who tried to come out and who shone bright lights at the building throughout the night and played the sounds of animals being slaughtered at intense volume. They were also defamed constantly in the media, to which they had little if any access to present their side of events.

On the windy morning of April 19, as bullhorns announced 'this is not an assault,' tanks tore holes in the church and pumped it full of CS gas. Several hours later, incendiary devises used by the Government ignited the highly flammable gas, and the wooden structure began burning. Government agents at the rear of the building fired machine guns at those who tried to escape the inferno (most, however, were unconscious from the heavy gassing). The Government kept fire fighters away from the building until it had burned to the ground, and then began bulldozing the site even as the fire burned. According to Carol Moore's The Davidian Massacre, 'Just to make sure no evidence survived, FBI tanks plowed it into the fire. CNN news footage shows tanks pushing the last standing two-story wall into the fire. Network footage . . . clearly shows several tanks equipped with bulldozer blades repeatedly and systematically pushing the remaining debris into the flaming rubble' (p. 415).

The next day, the President of the United States said that the final attack, which was 'not an assault,' had taken place 'because of the children. They have evidence that those children are still being abused, and that they're in increasingly unsafe conditions.'

That's perhaps an understatement, for by the time the President spoke, those children were dead, cold-bloodedly executed by Government agents. 'David Koresh was dangerous,' he said, 'irrational, and probably insane,' which makes one wonder how the President gained this psychiatric expertise. The President of the United States continued: 'Mr. Koresh's response to the demands of surrender by Federal agents was to destroy himself and murder the children who were his captives as well as all the other people there who did not survive.' Two days later, he said at a news conference, 'I do not think that the United States government is responsible for the fact that a bunch of fanatics decided to kill themselves.'

Most Americans, of course, believe the Government. I do not. I have no reason to.

We need to remember this April 19th why the citizens of Concord and Lexington began to fight their Government in 1775. We need to remember the principles upon which this nation was founded.

We need to think upon what it has since become. We need to think about what this Government did ten years ago, what it's doing now, and what it may do tomorrow. We need to think about what it's capable of. We need to think about the lies it's willing to tell and the people it's willing to kill to keep its money, to keep its power and to keep the people weak, fearful, stupid, and submissive.

Please spend some time on this week learning more about the events of that day. Rent the film 'Waco: The Rules of Engagement' (if your video store stocks it); it will also be shown Saturday on the Starz Encore True Stories channel. Borrow The Davidian Massacre by Carol Moore or The Ashes of Waco by Dick Reavis (if your library carries them). Search the Internet for information. You can watch a PBS documentary about Waco online. Here's another good Internet source.

And, finally, please join me in saying a prayer for those who died at the brutal hands of the United States Government in that terrible fire on April 19, 1993. Don't forget: next time, it could be someone you know.

Next time, it could be you.

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Craig Russell's picture
Columns on STR: 35

Craig Russell is a writer and musician in upstate New York.