Destroying Waco Essay

1482 words - 6 pages

By: Chris Watkins E-mail: November 28, 1999 I was one of only nine survivors of the Waco blaze -- 74 men, women and children died -- and I've devoted the last six years to understanding what happened there. Back in 1990 I had been drumming in a stagnant Los Angeles rock band when I met and befriended David Koresh. I needed some new drumsticks, and on the way to a gig stopped in at the Guitars R Us on Sunset Boulevard. Seeing the sticks in my hand, two strangers introduced themselves and asked if I was playing in a band. The two were David Koresh and Steve Shumacher, the closest thing Koresh had to a deputy. Schumacher gave me his card and I promptly handed it back. The backside was full of Bible verses. "You guys are a Christian band," I said. I had never been religious in my life, but I was curious. There were questions that I wanted answers to. Schumacher and Koresh weren't pushy and made it clear that all they really were looking for right now was a drummer. "I'd like to play some music with you," Koresh said, "and see where we can go from there." My band was going nowhere, and Koresh intrigued me. So I took the card back, and a few days later gave him a call. Over the next weeks I hung out with Koresh and some other musicians in his band. I got to know Koresh and was tremendously impressed. Having never paid much attention to the Bible, I was astonished to find that it actually did have some relevance to my life. And while Koresh had never gotten much in the way of formal education, it was clear that his knowledge of and insight into the scriptures was remarkable. That fall I went out to Waco to play music and meet the larger community. The people at Mount Carmel were extremely involved in knowing and learning the Bible. In the process of demonizing Koresh and the Branch Davidians, a name we never used when describing ourselves, people have made it seem as if Mount Carmel came out of nowhere. In fact, Koresh was the third leader of a religious community that spun off from the Seventh Day Adventists in 1934. They had been living outside of Waco for almost 60 years before the ATF raid in 1993. I was fascinated with their spiritual search, and I began to read the Bible. Koresh was interesting, and the ways in which he explained the scriptures were complex and demanding. He was clearly a serious religious scholar and I wanted to understand what he was saying. So I stayed. The people around Koresh came from many backgrounds. I met folks who hadn't finished high school, and others with degrees from places like Harvard law school. I spent time with African-Americans, Australians, black Britons, Mexican- Americans and more. We certainly weren't as isolated as people seem to think. We shopped in town, some of us worked in the community and our band performed in Waco clubs. I worked as a bartender in Waco for a time and I doubt a single customer would tell you that I stood out in any way other than my ability to mix a mean...

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