Racism and Ruby Ridge

How the popular narrative around the 1992 incident led to a nation of white supremacists and mass murder

Christopher Keelty
3 min readMay 25, 2022


Government photo showing some of the Weavers during the siege. (Public domain)

I think often about Ruby Ridge.

In 1992, Randy Weaver was indicted by a grand jury for supplying illegal guns to white supremacist terrorists. After he ignored numerous attempts to summon him to court, federal agents went to his ranch to arrest him.

Rather than surrender peacefully, Weaver and his family fortified themselves and engaged in an armed standoff with the agents. In the resulting shootouts, Weaver’s family killed a federal marshal, and Weaver’s son and wife were killed by federal agents.

In the wake of the incident, the Right Wing positioned Randy Weaver and his family as the victims of government tyranny, and the mainstream media adopted this narrative.

This framing intensified after the events at the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas in 1993. In that case, federal agents attempted to execute a search warrant for illegal weapons. Rather than allow the search, the Branch Davidians (who did in fact have hordes of illegal machine guns) fired on federal law enforcement and engaged in a standoff that led to the complex burning down and 86 people dead: 82 Davidians and four ATF agents.

These incidents are often cited as inspiring the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, committed by white supremacist terrorists who sold copies of “The Turner Diaries” at area gun shows, and with motivating the white supremacist militia movement across the United States.

Less often mentioned is that the political backlash against President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno led the federal government to all but ignore firearms enforcement and white supremacist domestic terrorism for the ensuing 30 years.

Only a decade after Ruby Ridge, the United States would engage in the systematic assassination of hundreds, if not thousands, of “suspected terrorists” in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in neighboring nations. Very often these individuals were posthumously revealed to have been innocent civilians. But our media barely batted an eye.

Contrast that with the way white Americans who shot at federal law enforcement agents trying…



Christopher Keelty

Writer, cartoonist, and nonprofit pro. I have too many interests, but let’s focus on culture & politics. Bisexual, cis. He/him, please. | Twitter: @keeltyc.