A demonstration against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms by about 40 people prompted McLennan County Sheriff officials to close off the entrances to Frazier Road near Elk for at least two hours Saturday.
The protest was not related to a meeting held earlier Saturday by a group calling itself the Unorganized Militia.
“We’re just a group of people who show our concern for our rights,” said Cristin Hines, a housewife who made the trip with others from San Antonio. “We hope to show authorities that we are concerned about the way they carry out their type of justice.”
The men and women organized after a call went out on the radio stations, said Robert Wilgen, also of San Antonio: “All it said was, if you want to stand up for freedom, meet in Waco.”
Jack DeVault, a rescue consultant from San Antonio, said the crowd started its journey at Loop 340 and FM 2491.
“When we got to Frazier Road they brought in a helicopter, and got out with sharpshooters,” DeVault said. “They circled around two or three times. That last time five or six ATF agents in full combat gear jumped out with assault rifles.”
At the end of Frazier Road, about two miles from the compound, the people were forced to turn around, said Karen Tegtmeyer, secretary of the Libertarian Party of Texas.
“All we wanted to do was present a message to the BATF and to the Texas Rangers. We believe in law and order,” Tegtmeyer said. “But they had a lineup of guns that you wouldn’t imagine. It was an intimidating sight.”
Each individual wore a red and white arm band that read “Unarmed Patriot.”
DeVault said the group was trying to send a message that ATF agents are out of control. The people, he said, support Vernon Howell’s right to bear arms.
“We also want justice for the people inside the compound. If they’ve done something wrong — fine, let a jury decide their fate but there’s no sense in treating them like they’ve been treated.”
Tegtmeyer said the ATF has a history of violence and abuse.
“What they’re doing is totally uncalled for,” she said. “They’re trying to cover their butts. Our concern is that the ATF is violating the constitutional rights of the people inside the compound.”
A sergeant with the sheriff’s department said Frazier Road was closed because of safety purposes.