Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Assault on Waco, Introduction and Part 1

Date: Mon, 20 Dec 93 22:05:44 -0700
From: kevin@axon.cs.byu.edu (Kevin Vanhorn)
Subject: Waco article, foreword
To: libernet@Dartmouth.EDU

I thought the people on libernet might be interested in the following article I wrote. For this article I only used a small fraction of the information I have gathered -- with slight exceptions, it only covers events up to and including the assault -- and I will not have the time to write up the rest any time soon. If anyone out there is willing to *commit* to writing it up, I am willing to send them the information I have collected, which includes

- 200 pages of newspaper and magazine articles;

- nearly 50 ascii files containing newspaper articles, commentary, and documents relevant to the Waco Massacre; and

- notes on all of the above, which have been organized by topic (some notes appearing in several topics), giving page numbers (or document numbers) for each note.

[The article itself follows in a series of separate postings. It is about 12-1/2 pages long.]

Kevin S. Van Horn | It is the means that determine the ends.
kevin@bert.cs.byu.edu |


Date: Mon, 20 Dec 93 22:07:53 -0700
From: kevin@axon.cs.byu.edu (Kevin Vanhorn)
Subject: Waco article, part 1
To: libernet@Dartmouth.EDU

[Author's note: permission is granted for unlimited reproduction of the following article, which appears in the January/February issue of _The American_.]

Assault on Waco
by Kevin S. Van Horn

On January 10 the trials of those few Branch Davidians who survived the Waco Massacre begin. With their home, the Mt. Carmel complex, in ruins, and families and friends dead, they remain stigmatized by the government and press as dangerous, lunatic "cultists." This article is an attempt to counter the defamation they have suffered and publicize the crimes committed against them by the government. Given the limited space available, I have chosen to trade breadth for depth; thus this article will consider only the accusations made against the Davidians, the events leading up to the ATF assault on their home, and the assault itself.

Who Were the Branch Davidians?

Immediately after the ATF assault on Mount Carmel the Federal Government began a campaign of vilification against the Branch Davidians. They were repeatedly portrayed in the press as dangerous, insane, bloodthirsty fanatics. Yet this supposedly sociopathic sect had lived peacefully in and near Waco for over half a century. Let's see what their neighbors have to say about the Davidians.

Collective Impressions

According to the Houston Post, Gene Chapman, owner of Chapman's Fruit Market, has nothing but kind words for the Davidians. "They're just all nice, decent, normal people," he said. "Well, not normal." [30]

A.L. Dreyer, an 80-yr-old farmer, owns a ranch adjoining the Mt. Carmel property. "I've never had no trouble with them people," he said. "I've always said if they stay on their side of the fence, I'll stay on mine... I have no fear of those people." [31]

The ATF's "storm trooper tactics" were "a vulgar display of power on the part of the feds," said former Waco District Attorney Vic Feazell. Feazell unsuccesfully prosecuted seven Branch Davidians in 1988. "We treated them like human beings, rather than storm-trooping the place," he told the Houston Chronicle. "They were extremely polite... They're protective of what's theirs..." [12]

"[T]hey were basically good people," said McLennan County Sheriff Jack Harwell. "All of 'em were good people." [59]


Henry McMahon, a former Waco resident and gun store owner, described David Koresh as a likable guy. "There was nothing out of the ordinary (about Koresh's personality)," McMahon said, adding that Koresh was "an average Joe." [41,43]

"He (Koresh) is a very gentle man," said a Waco doctor who had treated Koresh for three years prior to the ATF assault. "He is very intelligent and articulate. They made him sound like a ruthless killer and that's just absurd." [18]

Gary Coker, a Waco lawyer, said he believed Koresh wouldn't hurt anyone unless he was bothered by outsiders. "It's sort of like a rattlesnake. Unless you step on him, he's not going to hurt anybody." [23]

Steve Schneider

Steve Schneider emerged as a chief negotiator during the standoff, and was considered Koresh's lieutenant. FBI Special Agent Bob Ricks called Schneider "a cool, calm, deliberate individual." Cult Awareness Network `deprogrammer' Rick Ross described Schneider as well-educated, and said he was "a man with a history of deep religious conviction, honesty and integrity." [32]

Wayne Martin

Douglas Wayne Martin held a position of major responsibility among the Davidians; only he and Steve Schneider ever spoke face-to-face with federal negotiators during the siege. Martin was a 42-year-old black lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School. For seven years he was an assistant professor at the North Carolina Central University School of Law. After moving to Waco he maintained a law practice near Mount Carmel. He had a wife and seven children. [38,42]

Martin was viewed by many who knew him as a quiet, jovial and religious person [38]. He was routinely described as professional and competent in court [34].

"People may tend to dismiss this event as just a bunch of religious fanatics, but having known Doug humanizes it for me," said Mark Morris, a law professor at NCCU. "He was a very bright, smart, able, kind person, and it's a real shock (Martin's death)."

"He left about a year after I got here, but he seemed to be a very nice and personable guy," Associate Law School Dean Irving Joyner said [38].

McLennan County Commissioner Lester Gibson said he and others who knew Martin found it hard to believe he could have been involved in anything so violent. "He was very friendly and quiet," said Gibson. "It was common knowledge that he was a Davidian, but he never talked religion." [34]

Gary Coker, a Waco lawyer, described Martin as a kind man and a particularly devoted father.

Waco city council member Lawrence Johnson had known Martin for five years at the time of the assault. He described Martin as a computer whiz and as a diligent lawyer. "I enjoyed working with him. He was smart, he was well-educated," Johnson said.

After the raid, Martin, still the conscientious lawyer, managed to send Johnson money to reimburse clients he was unable to represent while he was holed up in the compound. "That was his sense of responsibility coming out." [42]

Perry Jones

Perry Jones was Koresh's father-in-law. News reports described him as a polite older man, bespectacled and somewhat frail, and well known at various businesses in the Waco community. Jones was once called "the kindest man and a perfect gentleman." "He was nice and he had good manners," said Tim Jander, general manager of Star Tex Propane in Waco.

Jones died a slow and painful death after ATF agents shot him in the abdomen. [49]

Unsurprisingly, the feds decided that they did not want to hold the trials of the surviving Branch Davidians in Waco. Instead they got a change of venue to San Antonio, nearly 200 miles away, where the jury members would be unlikely to have independent knowledge of the Davidians' character.


Part Two.


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