April 19 marks a grim anniversary for two separate 90s events that were both deadly and devastating: the end of the siege in Waco, Texas and the Oklahoma City bombing.
The first occurred on April 19, 1993, when following a 51 day standoff with Christian Cult leader David Koresh, FBI agents stormed the Branch Davidian Compound where Koresh was holed up with his followers.
Modified tanks rolled up to the complex and rammed holes in the walls of the sprawling building and then sprayed a fine mist of tear gas inside.
As described on Ep # 27 of History of the 90s, the tanks sprayed tear gas into the building off and on for about four hours but no came out.
Then around 12 p.m. a set of fires broke out within the compound and aided by strong winds, the fire moved quickly engulfing everything in flames. 75 people, including 25 children died. Nine people survived.
On the political far right the Waco tragedy became something of a rallying cry for those who were concerned about unlawful government overreach.
Partly in response to Waco, two years later on April 19, 1995 at 9:02 a.m. Timothy McVeigh detonated a 5,000 pound truck bomb in front of the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
168 people were killed, including 19 children who were in a daycare centre in the building. 500 others were injured.
As explained on Episode #19 of History of the 90s, McVeigh, an ex-military antigovernment fanatic, picked April 19 because it was the second anniversary of Waco but also because April 19, 1775 is the day that the American Revolution is reported to have begun.
McVeigh was arrested within hours of the bombing and when he was taken into custody he was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Abraham Lincoln and the words shouted by his assassin John Wilkes Booth, Sic Semper Tyrannis, which translates to Thus Always to Tyrants.
On the back was a quote from Thomas Jefferson, “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
On June 11 2001, McVeigh was executed by lethal injection at a federal prison in Indiana.
For more stories from the 90s, check out my podcast “History of the 90s” available on ApplePodcasts, Spotify, Google Play and anywhere else you stream audio. You can also listen at http://www.curiouscast.ca