From: Gary Hunt at the Outpost of Freedom in Waco, Texas
Date: MARCH 25, 1993
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" reads the first amendment to the constitution. This amendment being first was not by accident, the fundamental rights protected by the first are considered the most sacred for they deal with everyday circumstances that affect virtually all Americans.
Welcome to Waco, Texas, where peaceable assembly has been disturbed by glaring lights and loud music, music which, in some cases, has a theme religiously contrary to those to whom it is directed. These people are also being denied the fundamental right of speech. They are unable to send out communications, radio stations have been threatened for attempting to get messages out from the complex, the only word that does get out is filtered by that very dirty filter known as the FBI morning press conference.
What of this press that is reporting the news from the morning conferences? Thus far at least two people have been barred from the conferences. The first was Lewis Beam, who, under credentials from a religious newspaper, posed a question that may have been a bit embarrassing. The question was whether the Gestapo type tactics used in the initial assault were indicative of the imposition of a police state in America. Mr. Beam was escorted from the conference at the point of a gun, never to return.
I had been attending the conferences for a few days when I was barred, taken aside and questioned as to the legitimacy of my credentials. I answered questions about my newspaper, "Outpost of Freedom", and was finally allowed to enter the conference. I was told that the questioning was a result of a disturbance that had occurred at the federal courthouse a few days before. That disturbance was the result of the FBI detaining me while I was in the Clerk of the Court"s office. I did not start the disturbance, but did participate since I was being detained when the FBI agreed that I had broken no laws. It did, however, appear that there was a determination that my credentials were legitimate and that I would be allowed access to the conferences in the future.
Saturday I did not attend the conference, however, there was another disturbance that evening when I went to the press site near the Church complex. I was with two members of the Associated Electronic News (AEN) of Indianapolis Indiana, and was using a press pass issued by them. We had no trouble entering the area, however, upon leaving the area we were detained, at gunpoint, by BATF and State Troopers until the FBI arrived and interrogated each of us. They then retained our "falsified" press credentials, whatever that is, and let us out of where we should never have been in.
Sunday, when I attempted to enter the press conference, I was, once again, barred from entry. I asked to speak to the person who had made this decision and was given the phone number of the FBI in Washington, D.C. On Monday I contacted the D.C. Office and was directed to the San Antonio office. Mr. Joe Hanley, of the San Antonio office, upon hearing the story indicated that I should not be barred from the conferences. He said that he would contact the Waco people and would get back to me. I have yet to hear from Mr. Hanley.
On Tuesday, I was accompanied by Mr. Dick Reavis of the Dallas Observer. At the conference I was again denied access. Mr. Reavis was almost denied access as a result of the FBI associating him with me. He was able to report, after the conference, that he had been unable to find any other member of the press that cared whether another member of the press, myself, was being denied access. Perhaps they are part of an elite class such as those that rule this country, and look down upon the rest of us as a sort of scum that must be tolerated. Interestingly, these are the same people that appear to be stenographers for the government. Regardless of the nature of the questions posed by smaller, or foreign press, they tend to follow the lead of the FBI and assure us that we will know what color the car was that removed Church members from the complex.
Yesterday I was finally able to meet a person close to those that have made the decision to bar me from the press conferences. Previously I had dealt with Melissa Simms, of the Waco Police Department, who had been able to tell me nothing more than that I could not go in "cause the FBI said so. Both Randy D. Parsons and Carlos Hernandez, supervisory special agents, whatever that is, posed a number of questions. I was asked if I was legitimate press, to which I responded, what is legitimate press? I was asked where I got my pass and explained that I got mine the same place that NBC got theirs, I made it at Kinkos. They asked if I would be on their list (presumably a national press association) and I explained that I had not joined any press organizations, then asked if it was required to be legitimate press. They answered no, it was not necessary, they said. It appeared that they were attempting to find some means of rejecting me as not legitimate press. So, what am I getting at?
Through the history of our country the press has always defended the right to gather news without government intervention or licensing. It has been held that the first amendment has provided that no law (law enforcement agency) may be made that would abridge that right. It also appears that, here in Waco, this fundamental right is going to be trashed, as have so many others these past few weeks.
We will see. The two FBI agents were supposed to get back with me yesterday, however, from my experience, I will have to find them to see if they have found another means of barring me from the conferences. So much for redress of grievances!
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