Cultural Revolutions

"Roby Ridge"

Ruby Ridge and Waco are two nightmares now slowly fading from the public mind, but not because some law enforcement officials have learned anything. In Roby, Illinois, a 51-year-old widow named Shirley Ann Allen was ordered by a local judge to submit to a psychological profile after her relatives expressed concern about her behavior. When the police came to take her away, Mrs. Allen would have none of it. She met the arresting officers at the door with shotgun in hand, pumped off a couple of shells into the air, and graciously declined to come out.

Twelve days later, she was still declining, but so were the police who had laid siege to her house. On the first day of the siege—dubbed "Roby Ridge" by a local wag—state troopers surrounded her residence, turned off the power, closed up her well, flooded the place with searchlights, called in relatives to beg her to come out, fired beanbag bullets at her, and—was she to be spared nothing?—played Barry Manilow music around the clock. Still she didn't budge, to the dismay of the cops. "We'd like her to start going about business as usual," police spokesman Mark McDonald announced to an alarmed public. "I think most people would seek help before they die of starvation or lack of water." Whom exactly does Mr. McDonald expect Mrs. Allen to contact? The police, perhaps?

Around the same time, a white separatist and his family...

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