Remembering the Waco massacre, 30 years later
Waco represents a federal government out of control, and we must never forget the people who died thirty years ago.
Printed in the Herald-Times, April 9, 2023
To the Editor:
April 19 is the 30th anniversary of the federal government’s raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The Clinton Administration used military force – including tanks – against American citizens on American soil. We have heard much about police militarization driven by the War on Drugs over the last decade, but we should not forget that Waco was a worrisome escalation in use of force by law enforcement. By the end of the day, 76 people, including 25 children, had died.
The standoff should not have escalated in the first place. It was a botched paramilitary SWAT-style raid two months earlier that led to the standoff. Had the federal government arrested David Koresh when he was in town, perhaps this tragedy could have been prevented.
There is no question that Koresh was an evil man. When he died, the world instantly became a better place, because a monster who victimized innocents was no longer able to commit crimes. However, the outrage over the federal government’s incompetent and recklessly aggressive actions in Waco is not about Koresh: It is about the innocent people who died that horrible day.
Thirty years later, we must never forget the people who died that day or the lessons that we should have learned. Domestic law enforcement officers are not and should not be soldiers. This ought to be true at the local and state level, but is especially important at the federal level. Never again!
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