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The Ruby Ridge Incident

Just about every group has a good reason to loathe the federal government. The feds have proven time and again that they are perpetually just a pussyhair away from victimizing the people Tienanmen Square-style. Native Americans have Wounded Knee. Japanese Americans can point to the World War II internment camps. African Americans, of course, have 100 years of slavery. But no longer is this sense of disenfranchisement and oppression strictly the domain of ethnic or religious minorities. And thanks to the brutal incident at Ruby Ridge (and later, Waco) rednecks can feel entitled to their rage as well.

Randy and Vicki Weaver were just your average white supremacist couple trying to make their way in Iowa. After a string of lost jobs and a failed Amway franchise, they became convinced that the Zionist Occupation Government was about to launch an all-out war against its own citizens. So they spent $5,000 on a 20-acre parcel in Bumfuck, Idaho and tried to raise a family beyond the clutches of the imminent New World Order.

If you're the anal-retentive type, you probably already know that there is no "Ruby Ridge" in Idaho. The Weavers built their cabin out of scrap lumber on Caribou Ridge, near Ruby Creek, eight miles from Bonners Ferry.

They homeschooled their kids and decorated their property with signs proclaiming White Power is Supreme and Bow Down to Yahweh.

Then Randy started hanging around with committed white supremacists. In July 1986, Randy attended the World Congress of Aryan Nations at their headquarters near Hayden Lake. In all, he would attend at least three Aryan Nations functions during his time in Idaho.

the setup

At the 1996 World Congress he befriended a 245-pound biker by the name of Gus Magisono. (In actuality, Magisono was an undercover ATF informant by the name of Kenneth Fadeley.) Three years later, Gus asked Randy to sell him some sawed-off shotguns. Randy agreed. According to Fadeley, the guns were sawed off shorter than the legal minimum -- meaning, Randy had violated federal weapons laws.

Of course, even if the guns were exactly as the snitch described, the whole setup reeks of entrapment. Coincidentally, the ATF confronted Randy in June 1990 and offered him the opportunity to be their eyes and ears in the Aryan Nations organization. Either that, or face hard time in a federal penitentiary for sawing off the shotguns. It was an offer he couldn't refuse.

Weaver's first mistake

Randy refused. He gave them the big "fuck you" and promptly told his white supremacist buddies. Not exactly what you'd call smart, but you have to admire his sense of personal loyalty.

The ATF spent a few months pondering their next move, then arrested Weaver in January 1991. They took him to the county lockup, where he spent the night. The next day, Randy was brought before federal judge Stephen Ayers.

the government's first mistake

During the hearing, Judge Ayers told Randy that he would probably have to pay the government's court costs. Weaver immediately realizes that, having no financial assets to speak of, this would mean losing his property.

Weaver's second mistake

Rather than call around and see if they could get a lawyer to represent Randy pro bono, the couple decides that their best legal tactic would be to taunt the Feds. In February 1991, Vicki mailed two angry letters to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boise. One was addressed to "The Queen of Babylon" and stated in part:

A man cannot have two masters. Yahweh Yahshua Messiah, the anointed One of Saxon Israel is our law giver and our King. We will obey Him and no others. ... "a long forgotten wind is starting to blow. Do you hear the approaching thunder? It is that of the awakened Saxon. War is upon the land. The tyrants blood will flow."

The other letter was addressed to "Servant of the Queen of Babylon, Maurice O. Ellsworth, U.S. Attny." It contained another friendly greeting:

Yah-Yahshua the Messiah of Saxon Israel is our Advocate and our Judge.

The stink of your lawless government has reached Heaven, the abode of Yahweh our Yahshua. Whether we live or whether we die, we will not bow to your evil commandments.

the government's second mistake

Weaver failed to show up in court on February 20, so the judge declared him a federal fugitive. Seems simple enough. Except that the summons they received in January had the wrong date printed on it. It said he was to appear March 30, not February.

Early on, the family assumed that the feds were trying to humiliate Randy as an example to other potential snitches. When they discovered that he was now officially classified a fugitive for no apparent reason, they turned paranoid and concluded that the government's goal was to assassinate him.

So they hid out in the cabin for a year and a half, making few appearances in town, and keeping rifles at easy reach.

the government's third mistake

Then the U.S. Marshals decided to mount a raid on the Weaver property. They knew that this would be difficult. The family lived in a remote, mountainous area. They kept rifles and knew how to use them. And Randy was a former member of the Green Berets in the Army. So the feds opted for a military-style operation.

It was probably the single worst decision in the entire chain of events. The escalating tension on both sides could have been defused if the feds had only dispatched a plainclothes agent to the cabin accompanied by the local sheriff. It probably would have mitigated the Weavers' fears that the government was trying to kill Randy. Maybe he would have refused to accompany them back to jail, but he would have understood that they were at least willing to obey the law.

When the family noticed their dogs barking at something in the trees on the morning of August 21, 1992, they soon realized that the Zionist Occupation Government had finally launched a sneak attack.

the assault

An armed reconnaissance team crept up to the cabin. When one of the dogs noticed them it began barking, so they shot it. By this time, the two boys in the household were already outside. Sammy Weaver shot at the camoflauged intruders. One of the men returned fire and killed Sammy. Then Kevin Harris shot back at the commandos, killing U.S. Marshal William Degan.

Suddenly, the firefight ended and both sides retreated. Kevin returned to the cabin and the surviving Marshals carried their comrade's body back to base camp. Both groups would later claim they had acted in self-defense, and that the other was first to inflict death. In other words, both sides laid claim to the legal argument in John Rambo v. United States Government: "They drew first blood, not me! They drew first blood!"

Sadly, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in the beginning of the 21st century gives some indication of the potential for abuses that far outweigh the ones committed by the ATF.

From the beginning, Randy insisted that he had never been a white supremacist per se. As he reiterated for the zillionth time from prison:

"I'm not a white supremacist. I'm a white separatist. I was born white. I can't help that. If I was black I'd probably be affiliated with Louis Farrakhan's group, but as it is, I don't belong to anything. I don't believe I'm superior to anyone, but I do believe I have the right to be with my own kind of people if I choose to."

Nowadays, Randy Weaver spends a lot of time on the gun-show circuit, although as a convicted felon he is ineligible to legally own a firearm. Weaver gives speeches and signs copies of his autobiography.

And he's become an atheist. Consequently, he no longer believes that God loves the white man most of all. Randy still thinks the races shouldn't mix, but there's no thelogical basis for it. It's just his personal opinion.

See also Janet Reno.

Timeline

Jul 1986 Attending the World Congress of Aryan Nations near Hayden Lake, Idaho, Randy Weaver befriends a 245-pound biker by the name of Gus Magisono. In actuality, Magisono is an ATF informant by the name of Kenneth Fadeley.
24 Oct 1989 Randy Weaver sells two sawed-off shotguns to Magisono in Sandpoint, Idaho for $300.
12 Jun 1990 ATF Agents Herbert Byerly and Steve Gunderson offer to drop the weapons charges against Randy if he would agree to become an informant on the Aryan Nations. Weaver declines.
17 Jan 1991 ATF agents arrest Randy Weaver in an ambush on the Ruby Creek bridge.
18 Jan 1991 Randy Weaver is arraigned on the firearms charges. U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Ayers mistakenly informs Weaver: "if you're found guilty of this charge, you will probably be required to reimburse the government for the cost." He then explains that this will likely mean that the government will seize Weaver's land. He is released on bail.
22 Jan 1991 Randy Weaver receives a summons in the mail, instructing him to appear in court on March 20. Unbeknownst to Weaver, the date is a typo -- it's supposed to say February 20.
7 Feb 1991 The U.S. Attorney's Office in Boise receives a threatening letter from Vicki Weaver, addressed to "The Queen of Babylon."
20 Feb 1991 Randy Weaver fails to appear in court, and the judge declares him a federal fugitive.
21 Aug 1992 At 4:30am, a heavily-armed six-man U.S. Marshals "SOG" team sneaks onto the Weaver property for reconnaissance. A few hours later, two people are shot dead in a firefight: Marshal William Degan and Randy's son Sammy Weaver.
22 Aug 1992 FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi blows off the head of Randy's wife Vicki while she is standing in the cabin doorway holding their 10-month-old baby in her arms. It takes her at least 30 seconds to finally die, in plain sight of the sniper.
24 Aug 1992 FBI negotiator Fred Lanceley plies some psychological warfare by shouting out "Good morning, Mrs. Weaver! We had pancakes this morning. And what did you have for breakfast? Why don't you send your children out for some pancakes, Mrs. Weaver?"
28 Aug 1992 Colonel Bo Gritz is sent to negotiate with the Weavers.
30 Aug 1992 Colonel Bo Gritz returns to the cabin with a body bag to fetch the corpse of Vicki Weaver.
31 Aug 1992 Bo Gritz finally convinces Randy Weaver to surrender, averting a full-out assault scheduled for later that day.
15 Aug 1995 For $3.1 million, the United States government settles the lawsuit filed by the Weaver family for the wrongful death of Vicki Weaver. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an official from the Department of Justice later tells the Washington Post that if the case had gone to trial, the family would probably have won $200 million.
19 May 1996 CBS television airs its made-for-TV movie Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy, starring Randy Quaid and Laura Dern.
30 Oct 1996 Former FBI section chief E. Michael Kahoe pleads guilty to obstruction of justice. In doing so, Kahoe admits instructing a subordinate to destroy all outstanding copies of an internal "after-action" report on the Ruby Ridge incident, despite having previously agreed to hand it over to the Justice Department.
21 Aug 1997 A county prosecutor in Bonner's Ferry, Idaho indicts Kevin Harris for murder and FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi for manslaughter.
13 Aug 1999 Randy Weaver tells a gun show audience in Kingsport, Tennessee that the federal government is planning to declare martial law no later than January 1, 2000. "I think the government will declare martial law at the first of the year, probably before the first of the year. I think they know they're going to have problems with Y2K and they're going to have riots in the streets if the power goes out in the big cities. Man is about five minutes away from becoming a savage."


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