The Waco siege is a siege that started in February 28, 1993. The cause of the blockade was when the government, through the American federal and Texas state law, took raid on a compound of the Branch Davidians, which was a religious group in Texas. Waco siege resulted in a 51-day repulsion between the agents of the American federal and the religious Branch Davidians. The siege ended on April 19, 1993 (Garrett, 2001). This discussion aims at examining events during the Waco siege, the background, effects, and the significance of the attack.
Background on the Waco Siege
The Waco siege began on February 28, 1993, following claims that the Branch Davidians owned weapons illegally hence had committed a weapons violation crime (Garrett, 2001). The religious group, which was an outgrowth of another group that was named the shepherd's rod, was led by David Koresh, who was a self-proclaimed prophet. Members of this group had their residence in the Mount Carmel Center in Texas, where they had established a compound in which all their activities were carried out.
The American federal bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearm (ATF) agents, in collaboration with the federal bureau of investigations (FBI), busted the Davidians' compound in the Mount Carmel Center near Waco. They intended to retrieve weapons that the Davidians had and take their leader, David Koresh, into custody for illegal possession of firearms. The raid took place in February 28, 1993, and thus marked the beginning of the siege of Waco. The first attack on the Davidians, however, left four agents of the federal and six Davidians dead after uncontrolled gunplay.
The death of agents of the federal in the uncontrolled gunplay initiated a truce, and approximately 900 officers of law enforcement surrounded the compound in Waco (Hall, 2002). The number included the surety negotiators and recovery team that was sent by the state of Texas. Having begun negotiations, which was a result of the organized truce, David Koresh, in his defense, stated that he was a figure of the messiah that the Bible revealed. He further noted that the Almighty God had given him the surname that he possessed. In his discussions with the FBI, he posed a threat of violence to anyone that would stage an attack on either him or his family. Besides, he affirmed solemnly that the Branch Davidians were not organizing any mass martyr operation.
Further, in the negotiations, it was realized that according to the Branch Davidians, Koresh received consideration as 'the lamb.' David being a lamb, was a religious belief that the community of the Davidians had extracted from the book of revelation, and they believed that he could unlock the seven seals and unveiling the teachings of the Bible to the world(Hall, 2002). The identification of Koresh as the lamb tended to justify him and his controversial actions, including the possession of weapons.
David Koresh's statements of justification that were in defense of himself and his group did not satisfy the negotiators and the recovery team that had the responsibility of truce. The two parties went into a disagreement on how to handle the siege. The recovery team became impatient as the negotiations were taking a little bit longer; therefore, they put aggressive tactics into use against the Davidians(Mulloy, 2004). The latter decision threw the negotiation efforts into a disorder rendering them unsuccessful as they did not yield any peace between the two parties; the Davidians and the state.
In April, scholars of religion made attempts to communicate to Koresh through a discussion on radio. The study focused on the teachings of revelation, and after that, Koresh, through his lawyer, announced that he had received word from God and was writing a message about the seven seals(Garrett, 2001). After completion of the writing, Koresh stated that he would come out with the message accompanied by his followers.
The federal bureau of investigations, however, was not convinced with the announcement that Koresh's lawyer made and therefore decided to take action to end the siege. It made a plan to fire tear gas into the compound of the Davidians in Mount Carmel to evacuate them. The attorney general, however, reluctantly approved this plan, and it went into action(Mulloy, 2004). On April 19, 1993, agents of the federal went into the compound through tanks that were fitted with special equipment and wedged 400 containers of gas in the compound.
After the wedge of the gas in the compound of the Davidians, multiple fires erupted simultaneously within the compound, and gunshots followed them. The fire flames spread rapidly and covered Mount Carmel and its property. After the fire, 76 bodies of the Davidians were retrieved from the compound, including 25 children(Hall, 2002). Some of the bodies among them being Koresh's had deadly gunshot wounds that indicated martyr suicide. However, 9 Davidians managed to escape the fire. The consummation of the Mount Carmel compound by the fire marked the end of the Waco siege that had lasted for 51 days.
Effects of Waco Siege to Homeland Security
The government's way of handling the Waco siege founded many different ideas to the public. The views of the people had an impact on homeland security, which was the responsibility of the federal agency for the citizens. For some, the Waco siege became a story of a government that was not conforming to legality, moral law, and social convention. The views came as consequences of the actions of the federal body in handling the Davidians. The act of wedging flammable gases in Mount Carmel, the compound of the Davidians, made the public lose confidence in the federal (Newport, 2006). This is because the body that was obligated to provide security to its people took an action of poisoning its people.
Homeland security became threatened as the federal could no longer offer protection effectively to the public as it was not trusted anymore. In some other published reports, the government, which was responsible for security through its federal bodies, was described as brutal, illegitimate, and ready to wipe out its people at any time (Newport, 2006). Through such publications from scholars, the efforts of the government in improving security became crippled as they there was no public support on bills dealing with security hence most of them did not get amendments or recommendation of the congress.
Significance of the Waco Siege
Scholars who over the years have made analysis and publications on the Waco siege have stated that the blockade had an importance to the public. It acted as an eye-opening event that eroded the public trust that the people had in the government. The populace, in most cases, has held the government responsible for the siege. As a result of the government actions in the siege of Waco, it has received opposition from the public(Mulloy, 2004). Unfair trials and charges that were made against the survivors of the fire of Mount Carmel, where the Davidians resided, are one of the pieces of evidence of an unjust government.
The charges of the survivors, which were read in a federal court, ranged from allegations of weapons to charges of murder. However, the charges against the survivors were not supported by any evidence as they were mere accusations against them. The judgment by the court, however, found some Davidians guilty. The unfair trial of the surviving Davidians portrayed the government as a brutal and unjust government which the people had no trust in as it did not mean to protect its people, however being inflicted on criminal charges but rather to suppress them.
However, the Waco siege unveiled some actions that the government had to protect its people against them. This included the physical and sexual child abuse that was in the culture of the Davidians. Findings showed that before the Waco siege, Koresh had engaged in sexual abuse with children, some being as young as 11 years of age (Mulloy, 2004). The hygienic state of Davidians' residence served as a piece of evidence that the government had to improve the sanitary conditions of its people. Following the revealed actions, the government found solutions to the problems in the quest to protect its citizens. Some were made by congress, an example being the child abuse law, which was passed to protect the children against any form of physical or sexual abuse (Wright, 2014).
In summary, the Waco siege has not yet received establishment as to whether it was a martyr suicide action or it was a way the federal body used to wipe out the Davidians. However, it was recommendable for the government to use more peaceful methods in the retrieval of the weapons that were owned by the Davidians.
Garrett, T. M. (2001). The Waco, Texas, ATF raid and Challenger launch decision: management, judgment, and the knowledge analytic. The American Review of Public Administration, 31(1), 66-86.
Hall, J. R. (2002). Mass suicide and the Branch Davidians. Cults, religion, and violence, 149-69.
Mulloy, D. (2004). American extremism: History, politics and the militia movement. Routledge.
Newport, K. G. (2006). The Branch Davidians of Waco: The history and beliefs of an apocalyptic sect. Oxford University Press.
Wright, S. A. (Ed.). (2014). Armageddon in Waco: Critical perspectives on the Branch Davidian conflict. University of Chicago Press.
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