CNN U.S. News

Randy Weaver tells his side of the story

Tom Brokaw interviews white separatist

September 8, 1995

Transcript of interview on CNN's Larry King Live

R. Weaver

(A Senate sub-committee's investigation into an alleged FBI cover-up continues today. White separatist Randy Weaver has accused the FBI of using excessive force but federal law enforcement officials said Weaver brought the siege upon himself by skipping a court date on a weapons charge.)

Randy Weaver, in his first television interview, talks with Tom Brokaw about Ruby Ridge, his beliefs, and government on Larry King Live.

BROKAW: We are back now with Randy Weaver to discuss the Senate hearings about what happened to him and his family at Ruby Ridge, Idaho two years ago. Randy, what do you think will come of these hearings?

WEAVER: (OFF-MIKE) ... the committee Members will make up their minds and I'm not sure what all they can recommend or what comes out of this. I just hope some justice comes out of it. And that the American people can count on their government to correct any wrongs that there are in the government.

BROKAW: Do you want the FBI officials who are responsible for those orders and those actions that day and the FBI sharp shooter to stand trial?

WEAVER: Absolutely. I think they should.

BROKAW: And do you think the FBI sharp shooter should stand trial for the murder of your wife?

WEAVER: Yes, I do.

BROKAW: And the federal Marshalls who were involved in the fire fight that cost you your son, Sammy? You want them to stand trial?

Face to Face

WEAVER: I think they should, yes.

BROKAW: What do you think the chances are that that will happen?

WEAVER: I really, I don't know, Tom. I'm hoping it does happen.

BROKAW: You are a man who was deeply suspicious of the federal government, I think that is fair to say, when you were living on Ruby Ridge. So far, this week in Washington, you have been at the center of hearings in the august chambers of the United States Senate.

You have received more than $3 million from the United States government. You were acquitted of most of the charges that the federal government had leveled against you in a federal courtroom in Boise, Idaho. Has that in any way changed your attitude about the role of the federal government in your life or in the lives of most Americans?

WEAVER: Yes, sir. I think that possibly the American people have gone to sleep for awhile maybe. Or slowed down and they haven't demanded accountability on the part of certain people in the government. And that happens at times. And I believe that this incident got publicized well enough and so many people got involved and you might say woke up. And it's a good thing for all the people in this country.

BROKAW: Extremists around the country continue to use what happened to you at Ruby Ridge to whip up an anti-government sentiment to forment, if you will, hatred. Does that trouble you at all?

WEAVER: Yeah, it has all along. But I think that these people, you're right, I don't think they'd hate the government any worse now than they did before. But they should be able to see now that as far as this is concerned, things are changing and that the system can work when they get out and push for it.

BROKAW: Stand by there for just a moment Randy Weaver. We'll be back with you in a moment and we'll be taking your phone calls.


BROKAW: Welcome back. We're talking with Randy Weaver who has been the center of a good deal of attention in Washington this week as he has testified about the death of his wife and his son at the hands of federal authorities on Ruby Ridge in Idaho two years ago.

A lot of people are enormously curious about your beliefs and how you came to arrive at them. And just what exactly it is that you do believe. Sam Donaldson told a newspaper columnist this week that you have on your living room wall a sign that says "death to Jews" and a swastika on a calendar on Martin Luther King's birthday. Is that true?

WEAVER: I can honestly say that I never saw the calendar ever and I never saw the other sign until I went back up there with him a couple of weeks ago.

BROKAW: At Ruby Ridge?

Brokaw and Weaver

WEAVER: In my son's room. Right. And I'm not sure if my son made that sign or not but so, what can I say?

BROKAW: How do you feel?

WEAVER: You want to know how I feel about racists?


WEAVER: I'll put it this way. I would go back to back in the trenches with any man of any race if he wants to fight for justice. Every man of every race, man, woman, child should be proud of who they are and what they are. Racist to me means loving your race. Being proud of yourself and who you are. And that's the way I have believed. I have never for, you know, I've always believed that way.

BROKAW: But you went as well to the Aryan Church of Jesus Christ, Paul Butler's church. And he teaches more than just racial separatism.

WEAVER: Right. Yeah, he does. And I don't agree with that. We disagree on a lot of things. But I went to four maybe five meetings over a four year period and usually ended up in arguments when I was there about racial, political, religious beliefs. I don't follow anybody. I've never joined that church. I haven't belonged to a church since I was 12 years old and that was Presbyterian. I quit the NRA in 1980. I don't belong to anything. I'm not a joiner.

BROKAW: You were a U.S. Army Ranger?

WEAVER: Green Beret.

BROKAW: Green Beret.

WEAVER: Special Forces.

BROKAW: Blacks and whites as well as Asians and Latinos belonged to those units.

WEAVER: And Jews.

BROKAW: Right. And Jews.


BROKAW: And you worked side by side.


BROKAW: And got along well.

WEAVER: Oh, yeah.

BROKAW: So when you left the Green Berets and the Rangers why did you decide it was necessary for you and your family to live separately from those kinds of groups?

WEAVER: Ah, scripturally speaking I believe that is what it tells us to do. I realized that that's impossible to do. Part of the separation was to get out away in a remote area. Not just because of the racial thing, but because we wanted to teach our children at home and in case of, at the time was believing that, you know, this government seemed shaky at times. And if it ever fell, I'll let the people down below do the fighting and I'll sit up on the hillside and take care of family.

BROKAW: You were heavily armed on the hillside?

WEAVER: Well, that's relative.

BROKAW: How many arms did you have? How many rifles did you have?

WEAVER: I think we had 14 weapons. What they counted, that was including two BB guns. And that's not very many. That's approximately two per person. I know a lot of people...

BROKAW: How many rounds did you have?

WEAVER: I'm going to guess up to 20,000 rounds and half that was .22 ammunition. But that's a small amount compared to a lot of people I know too. But if the disaster came or the fall of the government came and you were in a survival situation, Tom, you can't go to the store and buy bullets. You can't buy guns. If you're not set up there and have it ready for survival, you have to have it ahead of time.

BROKAW: Do you continue to believe that that day will come when the government will fall and you'll have to survive on your own in Grand Junction, Iowa or in some other place?

WEAVER: If history repeats itself, this country could fall. And if it never does, great. But if it does, there's nothing wrong with being prepared for it.

BROKAW: Given your tragic and very painful experience with guns, being on the wrong end of them, the receiving end, how do you feel about guns today?

WEAVER: Not much different. I always respected them. I taught my children to respect them. I tell you what, I don't ever want to see anybody shot again. Anybody. It's a terrible thing to see. I didn't even like hunting. I didn't like shooting a deer, but I would for, to eat a deer. Guns are scary. You know, you have to respect them and handle them properly. And I, the gun advocates saying that guns don't kill people. People kill people. I believe that.

BROKAW: Before we get to the calls, let me ask you very quickly what did you think, what was your first reaction when you heard about Oklahoma City?

WEAVER: It upset me. Especially when they started saying my name and all that, and I'm going oh, boy, here we go again. Terrible, terrible tragedy. I totally understand how the relatives, the mothers and fathers or the spouses feel about their lost loved ones. I understand that totally and I think a lot of people that don't go through that, they can't understand the pain. You have to be there.

BROKAW: You have a call from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. You're on the air.

CALLER: Randy, how can you feel that the same government that arranged for the execution of your wife is any less treacherous when that same department of government murdered 17 children in Waco, Texas about a year later?

BROKAW: They do connect the two.

WEAVER: Yes. I have to believe that there are good people in government and bad people. I might be a fool but I've always had, I've always had to have some faith in people. And if you lose total trust and faith in the people, I mean it's a terrible way to live.

And I believe there are some good people in the government that want to see things done right and made right. Sam and Vicky would want things done right and as far as this is concerned, there are people trying to do that.

BROKAW: We've got another caller here from Liberty, Tennessee. Let's hear that call.

CALLER: Yes. Do you think that it will come to the point in life that we'll all have to protect ourselves with guns against the government?

WEAVER: Ma'am, I'm not sure in our lifetime. There has been times when I really believed that that's possible. And I'm not going to say it's not possible. I hope it's not possible. I don't want to see it because I've saw what my children went through and I hope they don't have to do it again.

BROKAW: How are your children doing?

WEAVER: They're ... for what they've been through, my kids are doing real well. I mean, the pain always will be there and we get to talking about it and over and over and over and do a lot of crying and probably will until the day I die.

But one reason I came out of the cabin when I did was because I thought if I don't I know they're going to come in and try to at least try to kill Kevin and I and all I could think about was if they just wound the children. Maybe they're just blow one of their arms off or something, they'd live the rest of life crippled. That was one big reason I came out because I couldn't stand the thought of that.

BROKAW: What about the future for Randy Weaver?

WEAVER: The daughter ... my daughters and I, we want to go back West. We love the mountains. We want to get a remote, maybe a little small remote ranch and raise horse, and have dogs and cats and chickens again. And live as peaceful as we can and enjoy the elk, and the bear and the deer and nature.

BROKAW: Randy Weaver, thanks you very much for being with us tonight. I know this has not been an easy week for you to revisit these painful experiences.

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