On March 22, 2023, Netflix will release Waco: American Apocalypse, a gripping documentary that delves into the tragic events that took place at the Mount Carmel Center in Waco, Texas, in 1993. The documentary will explore the history of the Branch Davidians, a religious group that was at the center of the siege, and the events that led to the deadly confrontation with federal agents. The Branch Davidians were a controversial group that had been under scrutiny by law enforcement for years, and their standoff with the government would ultimately end in tragedy.
The Branch Davidians were a splinter group of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that was founded in 1955 by Benjamin Roden. The group believed that Roden was a prophet and that he had received a message from God that they were the true followers of the Davidic tradition. The Branch Davidians believed that the end of the world was imminent and that they were called to prepare for the apocalypse. They believed that their leader, David Koresh, was the final prophet who would lead them through the end times.
30 years ago today the ATF began their siege on the Branch Davidians. pic.twitter.com/zBzrvjjnrt
— Tim Tuttle (@JolyonMcVeigh) February 28, 2023
Koresh, whose real name was Vernon Howell, joined the group in the 1980s and quickly rose to prominence within the organization. He claimed to have received a revelation from God that he was destined to father a new generation of children who would be the chosen ones. He also claimed that he was the Lamb of God and that he was the only one who could unlock the secrets of the Book of Revelation. Koresh’s teachings were highly controversial, and many members of the group were deeply skeptical of his claims.
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Despite the controversy surrounding Koresh, the Branch Davidians continued to grow in size and influence throughout the 1980s. In 1987, they moved from California to a 77-acre property near Waco, Texas, that they called the Mount Carmel Center. The compound was designed to be a self-sufficient community where members could live, work, and worship together.
Quite a disturbing mindset at that.
I just can't get my head around how. Similar to what I heard in a podcast about the Branch Davidians at Waco, and there still is followers who…you guess it…support Trump. A culture of cults in the US. Sadly it has spread beyond.
— AvScanNZ 🇳🇿 (@NZ_Trav) March 8, 2023
However, the group’s isolation and radical beliefs drew the attention of law enforcement. In 1992, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) began investigating the Branch Davidians for suspected weapons violations. The ATF believed that the group was stockpiling illegal weapons and explosives and that they were a threat to public safety.
On February 28, 1993, the ATF launched a raid on the Mount Carmel Center. The raid quickly turned into a deadly shootout that left four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians dead. The standoff between the Branch Davidians and law enforcement continued for 51 days, with negotiations and efforts to resolve the situation peacefully ultimately failing. On April 19, 1993, the FBI launched a final assault on the compound, using tear gas to try to force the Branch Davidians out. However, the gas ignited a fire, which quickly engulfed the compound. In total, 76 Branch Davidians died in the fire, including David Koresh.
The siege at the Mount Carmel Center remains one of the most controversial and tragic incidents in American history. The Branch Davidians were a deeply misunderstood and marginalized group, and their standoff with the government is still the subject of intense debate and speculation. “Waco: American Apocalypse” promises to shed new light on this dark chapter in American history, exploring the history of the Branch Davidians and the events that led to the deadly confrontation with law enforcement.
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The documentary will feature interviews with survivors of the siege, law enforcement officials who were involved in the standoff, and experts on the Branch Davidians and their beliefs. It will also use archival footage and reenactments to provide a detailed and nuanced portrayal of the events that took place.