Trump's Next Rally Is on 30th Anniversary of Worst Gov't 'Overreach' in Town's History - Did He Do It On Purpose?


Thirty years on, the mainstream media would like America to forget the anniversary of the government siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas — an assault that killed 86 people.

Former President Donald Trump, on the other hand, chose to remind everyone in a major way.

On Saturday, Trump planned to host the first mass rally of his 2024 presidential campaign — in Waco, three decades after the March 25, 1993, FBI raid of the religious group’s complex.

The New York Times, naturally, was wringing its hands over the symbolism in a Friday article titled, “A Trump Rally, a Right-Wing Cause and the Enduring Legacy of Waco.”

“Mr. Trump has not linked his Waco visit to the anniversary,” the Times reported. “Asked whether the rally — the former president’s first in the city of 140,000 — was an intentional nod to the most infamous episode in Waco’s history, Steven Cheung, the campaign’s spokesman, replied via email that the Waco site was chosen ‘because it is centrally located and close to all four of Texas’ biggest metropolitan areas — Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio — while providing the necessary infrastructure to hold a rally of this magnitude.’

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“But the rally comes amid a spate of increasingly aggressive statements by Mr. Trump claiming his persecution at the hands of prosecutors, and the historical resonance has not been lost on some of his most ardent followers.”

Of course, the “resonance” of the term “ardent followers” could (and given the source, probably should) be seen as likening Trump supporters to the Branch Davidians who were inside the compound when the FBI laid siege to it.

At the time, the members of the religious group were painted as a cult by those in the media. To say their beliefs were unorthodox or that their devotion to the group’s leader, David Koresh, was intense is beyond question. The Times, using typically neutral language, called it “a doomsday sect.”

However, the sentiments of one of the Trump supporters quoted by the Times in the article, Sharon Anderson, was fairly on point: “Waco was an overreach of the government, and today the New York district attorney is practicing an overreach of the government again.”

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Just so we’re clear on the particulars of the Waco raid: According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Branch Davidians were initially founded in 1959 by Ben Roden and, in 1962, the group established a settlement they called Mt. Carmel outside of Waco. In the 1980s, after a power struggle, Vernon Howell — who would later become known as David Koresh — took control of the group.

In the 1990s, allegations of child abuse were lodged against Koresh, but what really attracted the attention of the feds was the fact Koresh had opened a gun store. That led the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to get an arrest warrant against Koresh and descend upon the complex on Feb. 28, 1993. Gunfire was exchanged — it’s a matter of debate which side fired first — and a standoff ensued. Four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians reportedly died in the initial gunfight.

At this point, almost 900 law-enforcement officials surrounded the Mt. Carmel complex and engaged in a months-long standoff. Janet Reno, then the attorney general under Bill Clinton’s administration, didn’t think Koresh would surrender, so she believed an all-out raid was called for.

This is what happened next, as it was covered at the time:

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Quoth Encyclopedia Britannica: “At approximately 6:00 am on April 19, 1993, the FBI began spraying tear gas into the complex. Soon thereafter, the Branch Davidians began firing weapons. For more than five hours armored vehicles, some of which punched holes into walls, deposited 400 tear-gas canisters inside the compound; at 11:40 am the assault ended. Some 25 minutes later, the Branch Davidians set several fires, and at 12:25 pm gunfire was heard inside the compound. Due to safety concerns, firefighters were not allowed into the area for another 15 minutes, by which time the compound was beyond saving. While nine people managed to escape, the rest died. Investigators ultimately found 75 bodies, 25 of which belonged to children. A number of the deceased had been fatally shot, including Koresh. While some of the wounds appeared to be self-inflicted, others did not.”

You would think that, after dozens of people died in an FBI raid that was wholly unnecessary, this would be considered a highly unsuccessful end to the standoff. Reno didn’t resign, however, and the media still seem to believe that anyone who thinks this was excessive force or government overreach is a fringe lunatic.

Again the Times: “The attention to Mr. Trump’s choice of locale highlights the long political afterlife of the Waco standoff. A polarizing episode in its own time, the deadly raid was invoked in the 1990s by right-wing extremists including Timothy McVeigh, often to the dismay of the surviving Branch Davidians. It has remained a cause for contemporary far-right groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.”

Yes, and it also remains a cause for people who believe that owning a gun shop isn’t cause to believe that a group is stockpiling weapons, nor is it reason to use force majeure to the extent that roughly 900 law-enforcement officials were surrounding the complex of a small religious group, then proceeded to kill them in order to prevent … something that they may have done in the future?

Well, we don’t know. There’s never been any evidence that the Branch Davidians were planning a terror attack. The allegations of child abuse were disturbing, of course. However, I don’t see how a raid in which 25 of those children were murdered made things any better for them — but what do I know? The government knows best, as always.

Now, no, the potential indictment against former President Trump isn’t a one-to-one analogous situation with the Waco raid. However, it’s a reminder that, when the government decides it’s going to pursue something, believe you me — it will pursue it.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is, apparently, determined to reopen l’affaire Stormy Daniels and take the former president to court over it during the 2024 presidential primaries. Mind you, this case has been kicking around for years, and the idea that justice is somehow being served in 2023 by a progressive, George Soros-backed DA pursuing it at a conspicuously convenient time for Democrats is ludicrous.

Perhaps you could accuse Trump of comparing apples to oranges. We’ll see what he says Saturday, but I’d counter with this: Yes, Waco and Bragg’s potential Trump prosecution may be apples and oranges, but both are still very rotten fruit. You couldn’t pick a better place on a better date to remind America about the poisoned tree that produced both.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture