| 31 March 1993
Siege At Waco, Doctor Murdered in Pensacola
By Leonard Zeskind
Searchlight Magazine April 1993
The concrete dust from the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City had just settled when federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms stormed the compound of a little known religious cult in Waco, Texas. The Bureau was attempting to serve search warrants on the Branch Davidians, as the cult is known. But they were met by a hail of gunfire--including hand grenades and .50 caliber sniper fire which pierced the federal agents' body armor. When the federals finally retreated, they had suffered four dead and 16 wounded. The Branch Davidians may have lost as many as ten dead in the gun battle.
The Branch Davidians are a splinter group off the Seventh Day Adventists. Led by a man calling himself David Koresh, over 100 men, women and children were still on the compound. Drawn from every walk of life and including both whites and blacks, the Davidians were preparing themselves for a final battle of Armageddon. But they were just one more group of heavily armed religious fanatics which dot the map of North America. Knights of the Ku Klux Klan leader Michael Lowe, who also lives in Waco, never made a passing nod at their existence.
On the front lines over 400 law enforcement officials settled into a prolonged siege. A phalanx of tanks, helicopters and armored personnel carriers were poised for a final assault on the compound. Dozens of reporters from every electronic and print media outlet were camped two miles away, waiting for a newsbreak.
As Searchlight went to press, a bevy of white supremacists--calling themselves "Constitutionalists"--landed among the media. Aryan Nations leader Louis Beam was there, posing as a reporter for the California-based Identity tabloid, Jubilee. Richard Ortt, from nearby Richland Hill, Texas, circulated among the press. His Constitutional Foundation Association is busy building support for Randy Weaver--who had his own shootout with federal marshals last August in Idaho. Koresh's people hung a banner "Send In CFA & Don Stewart," but law enforcement kept the right-wingers at a distance. Gary Hunt came from Florida, a stack of racist propaganda in his hands.
But the biggest show was put on by Aryan Nations attorney Kirk Lyons, who held a press conference to announce that he was representing Koresh's mother. He attempted to get a temporary restraining order placed on the authorities, but failed. Lyons, it seems, wants to shake his reputation as a lawyer for neo-Nazis by rushing to the aid of a distressed mother of a man who considers himself the Messiah.
Reporters got the newsbreak they were looking for in Waco, but it wasn't long before another right-wing religious fanatic grabbed the headlines. This time 31 year-old Michael Griffin killed the doctor, David Gunn, of a Pensacola, Florida women's health clinic by shooting him in the back three times. Griffin was a member of a fundamentalist Christian anti-abortion group which called itself Rescue America. Last fall he had pulled his children out of area public schools because he opposed teaching evolution and sex education. The Sunday morning before the shooting, Griffin "prayed" that Gunn would be "sent to Jesus."
After the shooting, John Burt, the local leader of Rescue America, with barely a nod to Dr. Gunn's family, opened a fund for the killer's family. Burt was no stranger to right-wing violence: In 1986 he was arrested for invading a Pensacola health clinic, knocking down two workers and vandalizing the office equipment.
Anti-choice leaders attempted to portray Griffin as a lone nutcase who got violent. But in nearby Montgomery, Alabama, Operation Rescue--one of the largest and most active far right anti-choice organizations--had put out a "Wanted" poster on Dr. Gunn. Over a picture of him it read, "We need your help to stop Dr. David Gunn."
During January and February, there were 27 reported incidents of violence directed at women's health clinics, including bombings and vandalism. There were 186 incidents in 1992, up from 93 in 1991. Clinton's election may have sparked an increase in violence, since it is unlikely that a completely anti-choice majority can now be formed in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The anti-choice violence is just one more sign that the Christian Right has become more aggressive since the election. Now they are imitating the murderous violence of the Klan and Nazis.
Nebraska neo-Nazi Gary Lauck now claims the NSDAP-AO is financing a publication in Russian. Calling itself "Our March," it is published by Ilya Lazarecki and his Union of Russian Youth in Moscow. Lauck is also advertising a bank account run by Michel Faci under the name Slavonie Libre in La Garenne Colombes, France.
Ben Klassen moved the Church of the Creator from North Carolina to Wisconsin last year. Now it seems the COTC's headquarters is moving once again. This time to Florida, where Rick McCarty is the new Pontifex Maximus. If any of the young skinheads who made up the Wisconsin leadership doubted that McCarty is now in control, he published a March edition of <Racial Loyalty> reminding them that he had Klassen's blessings and control of the organization's copyrights. Furthermore, McCarty is ready to institute a purge by forcing everyone to re-apply for membership on a yearly basis.
But whether it is Steve Thomas in Wisconsin or Rick McCarty in Florida who calls the shots, COTC's Hitler-worshipping lunacy will remain a cesspool of racism and violence.
|< Prev||Next >|