The date is not well known like September 11 or December 7, the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Unlike dates that commemorate great military victories or the end of World Wars, April 19 is about a different kind of violence.
Violence between citizens of this nation and the government itself.
Like most traditions it began as a coincidence, but later transitioned into a date of significance for members of sovereign citizen groups like the Posse Comitatus.
It began in 1985. Jim Ellison was the leader of a sovereign group called CSA (The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord. On April 19, 1985, three hundred federal officers surrounded his compound in northern Arkansas. Ellison surrendered and was later convicted of conspiracy and weapons charges. Aside from traditional firearms, the federal officers rounded up hand grenades, plastic explosives, blasting caps, land mines and even a US Army anti-tank rocket. One of Ellison’s men, Richard Wayne Snell was charged with murder and his execution took place ten years later as fate would have it, on April 19.
April 19, 1993 the FBI stormed the Branch Davidian complex outside Waco Texas, killing seventy six members, including seventeen children. David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidian group was sought for illegal weapons charges, something sovereign groups adamantly believed was not a crime, but a right. This came on the heels of the Ruby Ridge shootings which had enraged members like Tim McVeigh. Terry Nichols and McVeigh saw Waco as yet another illegal intrusion by a corrupt government.
Following Waco, April 19 became a date of significance for sovereign groups. They would use the date as a symbol and cause to retaliate against the government.
On April 19, 1994 militia leader Linda Thompson issued a call for sovereign citizen groups to assemble in Washington DC, armed and in uniform. The purpose of the assembly was the forced repeal of the Brady Bill and the arrest of Congressmen and Senators for treason. She identified herself as the acting adjutant general of the Unorganized Militia of the United States. Although later rescinded, her call to arms became known as the Thompson Ultimatum.
At nine pm April 19, 1995, CSA member, Richard Wayne Snell, was put to death by lethal injection in Arkansas. Twelve hours earlier, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols had ignited a truck bomb outside the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killing 168 people.
For McVeigh and Nichols the date was not a coincidence.
About Steve O'Brien:
Steve O’Brien is an author and attorney. Redemption Day is his third novel. His prior works, Elijah’s Coinand Bullet Work, have been recipients of multiple literary awards. Since its release,Elijah’s Coin has been added to the reading curriculum in multiple secondary schools throughout the US and has been incorporated in a university ethics course. Steve is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and The George Washington University Law School. He lives in Washington, DC.