- On the 25th anniversary since the religious compound became a fiery charnel house, the 77-acre plot east of Waco remains a symbol of the tragic consequences of both the violent defiance of authority and the overreach of government.
The 51-day siege remains among the most controversial operations in law enforcement history. Its effects were both immediate and longlasting, prompting lawsuits, hearings in Washington, an independent investigation, and pain and distrust that still reverberate.
Agents carry the memories of their fallen colleagues. Some surviving Branch Davidians continue to defend their dead leader. Fringe groups still spin conspiracy theories, debating who shot first. And the government treads much more carefully in similar standoffs.
For law enforcement unaccustomed to defiance, the catastrophe was a wake-up call to overhaul their operations. For the survivors and relatives of the 82 Davidians who died, including more than 20 children, it was a life-altering tragedy.