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Republic of Texas leaders warn of possible
By STEVE RAY and ANNA M. TINSLEY
Harte-Hanks Austin Bureau
AUSTIN - Republic of Texas leaders warn that federal and state
officials could use a kidnapping by breakaway dissidents to stage
another siege similar to the Davidian compound in Waco.
For weeks, the Internet website of the Republic of Texas Embassy
in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, has predicted an "Orange
1 Alert" - a signal that FBI agents and Texas law enforcement
officers were moving in on the compound.
On Sunday, that prediction came true - but only after members
of the group seized two critics of the organization from neighboring
property, calling them spies.
The siege came as members of three separate factions of the
Republic of Texas group planned a May 4 summit to reunite the
movement. Organizers of that effort say it may still take place,
but doubt that any of McLaren's supporters will attend.
The Republic split into different groups last year after a
feud over money and how to pursue independence.
Republic of Texas members contend that the state was unlawfully
annexed as a state by Congress in 1845. Because of that, they
refuse to acknowledge state or federal laws and claim Texas is
a free and sovereign nation.
McLaren warned of state and federal efforts against his followers
in an interview with Harte-Hanks Newspapers, today just minutes
before his phone was disconnected, apparently by law enforcement
But he said the Davis Mountains were strategically different
than the compound in Waco and said he had followers all across
the mountainous area surrounding the so-called embassy.
Acting Republic of Texas President Steven Crear, who is associated
with McLaren's breakoff group, sounded the same alarm earlier
He said the government was planning an attack on the Jeff Davis
County compound to divert attention away from the prosecution
of Anthony McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing case.
"The U.S. government has many problems and many things
to answer for," Crear said. "They will do anything,
even shed innocent blood, to get out the negative spotlight. Will
the people of an enlightened age turn their heads again while
a desperate government lashes out against a peaceful people?"
State lawmakers have expressed concern about tactics used by
the Republic of Texas on numerous occasions.
"Republic of Texas members have their minds made up that
the government in Texas is illegal and they can make and enforce
their own laws," said state Rep. Allen Hightower, D-Huntsville,
who has authored a bill to crack down on paper terrorism. "I
really feel sorry for the hostages and for the Attorney General's
office and law enforcement agencies because they are going to
have to deal with it."
Attorney General Dan Morales has charged that Republic of Texas
members have filed dozens of phony liens against public officials
and state employees.
Last year, a state district judge ordered the Republic group
to stop filing such documents, but group leaders said they don't
recognize the judge's actions.
Hightower's bill would make filing fake liens be punishable
by up to two years in state jail and a $10,000 fine. It also would
make it a Class A misdemeanor to issue a false court complaint,
judgment or summons. State Sen. Ken Armbrister, D-Victoria, is
sponsoring the bill in the Senate.
The bill, approved by the House and Senate, is pending before
a conference committee. It is directed at any paper terrorism,
"The Republic of Texas has been one of the big users of
paper terrorism," Hightower said. "In Texas, most of
us who don't consider ourselves wealthy have most of our money
tied up in land - farms, ranches or real estate. Having that tied
up for two years in the courts creates a hardship."
Republic of Texas members contacted Sunday from the two factions
not associated with McLaren said they did not support McLaren
but some indicated concern that the situation could escalate into
a more serious situation.
Wesley Walker Burnett, publisher of the <I>Republic of
Texas<I> magazine, which is independently owned and operated,
said many of the group's leaders probably fear the Fort Davis
situation could escalate into a Waco situation.
"It is sad to see such a brilliant man going off the deep
end," Burnett said. "It could be that being isolated
like that ... he has lost touch with reality."
David Johnson of Odessa, a leader in a third faction of the
Republic of Texas, said McLaren is a lawbreaker and unstable.
And he predicted that the militia forces - called bodyguards
- that surround McLaren will desert him in case of trouble.
"The militia forces he has spoken about have indicated
to me they are not coming to his aid," said Johnson, whose
faction is being investigated for four possible banking law violations
for selling about 60 unauthorized banking charters for $2,000
On Sunday, members of the Republic of Texas stressed that they
were not part of McLaren's group - and did not support his actions.
"I think he's gone off the deep end," said Robert
William Kesterson of Mesquite, who says he is the secretary of
state for the Republic of Texas. "The one time we got through
to him on the phone, he hung up on us.
"We've offered to help however we can, but so far I don't
think that's going to work," he said. "We've got nothing
to do with what's happening. But I wish he'd calm down and act
like a normal person."
There are now several groups that claim to be the one true
group of the Republic of Texas. Each group thinks they are the
true Republic of Texas.
Kesterson said the Republic of Texas has between 20,000 and
30,000 known members.
(Harte-Hanks staff writer Ben Tinsley contributed to this report.)
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