In 2014, when the Statesman asked readers to choose the top stories during the 150-year history of the newspaper, the 11-day FBI standoff at Ruby Ridge in 1992 ranked 15th on their list.
“Ruby Ridge is a wooded crest in Idaho’s northernmost county. It’s also a flashpoint for anti-government anger and suspicion,” Reporter Kris Rodine wrote for the retrospective of most important Idaho stories.
The siege at Randy Weaver’s property near Bonners Ferry stemmed from his refusal to appear in court on charges that he sold sawed-off shotguns to a federal informant at a meeting of white supremacists.
Aug. 21 is the 25th anniversary of the standoff, which left three people dead — Weaver’s wife, Vicki Weaver, their 14-year-old son, Sammy Weaver, and U.S. Marshal Billy Degan.
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The siege sparked outrage and mistrust of the federal government, spawning the modern American militia movement, according to the new documentary “Ruby Ridge” that will air on Idaho Public Television’s popular history show, American Experience at 9 p.m. Tuesday and 1 a.m. Thursday.
The Ruby Ridge incident, along with the fiery, fatal conclusion to the Waco siege in 1993, changed the way law enforcement officials approach standoffs, such as the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns. The leaders of the armed group who seized the wildlife refuge were acquitted in October.
The one-hour American Experience film includes eyewitness accounts from the Weavers’ daughter, Sara, and federal agents who were involved. Get an introduction, view bonus video and articles about Ruby Ridge on the American Experience Web site. Also, Sara Weaver has her own Web site about Ruby Ridge, check that out here.