Davidians Look to New Church

The Associated Press, April 19, 2000
By Connie Mabin

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - For six years, those who came to mourn the lives lost in the fiery end to the Branch Davidian siege saw only slabs of concrete and the rusted carcass of a motorcycle.

This year, the organizers of a new Branch Davidian church built near the site hope it will serve as a more appropriate reminder of the tragedy that took place near Waco on April 19, 1993.

"The whole point is just to say that, 'Hey, we think that what happened here was wrong,"' said Alex Jones, a radio talk-show host who organized the $92,000 construction effort.

A dedication service was scheduled today in Mount Carmel, 10 miles west of Waco. Survivors and supporters were expected to attend.

"It's a memorial to those who died and is a statement, a positive statement that says we are not going to stand by," said Violet Nichols, a volunteer.

Davidian leader David Koresh and some 80 followers died during the fire that occurred several hours after the FBI tear-gassed their compound to end a 51-day standoff with federal authorities. The government contends their deaths, whether from fire or gunshot wounds, came by their own hand.

Relatives of Branch Davidians have filed a wrongful-death suit against the federal government over the raid's fiery conclusion. A trial is scheduled to begin June 19.

Many in the university city of 103,600, about 100 miles northeast of Austin, have hoped for closure of the issue.

"Unfortunately, I thought someday we would shake it," said Robert Darden, a Baylor University English professor who studied the sect and wrote a book about Koresh after the standoff. "But I was wrong."

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