Oklahoma: Does the Song Linger On?

Magazine: the Body Politic
Issue: April, 1994
Title: Oklahoma: Does the Song Linger On?
Author: Anne Bower

In June 1993, Oklahoma City was the site of a national Rescue America conference LIFE - The Choice of the Next Generation. The conference promised a stellar list of the more violent members of the anti-choice community, including Michael Bray, Joan Andrews, Karen Black, and Joe Scheidler. As these gatherings go, it was not a large crowd, but in light of recent events, researchers have begun to wonder if something sinister happened that weekend.

A headline in the August Life Advocate, magazine of activist Andrew Burnett, stated that rescue and the "use of force" were debated at the conference. Mr. Burnett first raised the issue by announcing that, after the March shooting of Dr. Gunn, he was forced to reconsider his previous opinion that the shooting of abortion doctors may be wrong. Mr. Burnett challenged attendees with the notion they have been the best "clinic defenders", due to their unwillingness to destroy clinics because of concern over what other pro-lifers would think. The tone of his speech suggests that Mr. Burnett was moved by the old Operation Rescue motto, "If abortion is murder - Act like it is murder."

Michael Bray, convicted of conspiracy to bomb clinics, also spoke taking to task churches for being afraid to act because of the government. Mr. Bray proclaimed that "ultimately, the government is God."

Part of conference activities were a rescue held on Saturday the 19th. After proclaiming a victory at a clinic closed for vacation, blockaders proceeded to the other clinic where over thirty men and women finally got to be arrested. The _Life Advocate_ magazine picture clearly shows John Burt and Donny Gratton, (last seen on Court TV testifying at Michael Griffin's murder trial) were among those arrested.

Arrest records of this rescue also list one Daniel Ware, 39, of Houston. Mr. Ware was arrested again March 11 in Houston on a federal weapons charge. He had gone to Pensacola for the Griffin trial, and there was a suspicion he was returning to Pensacola for the Gunn memorial service. There were a number of guns in his car when he was apprehended.

When asked about knowledge of Mr. Ware, John Burt first said in the Pensacola paper, he had never heard of him. However, the following day, it was reported that in fact, John Burt was one of three who alerted the federal authorities to Mr. Ware's intentions of executing a "Beirut-rescue" during the NCAP Conference. Reportedly, he planned to kill as many as he could before being killed.

There is, so far, no evidence that Shelley Shannon, currently on trial for shooting Dr. George Tiller in Kansas last August, attended the Oklahoma conference; but her one-way ticket from Grants Pass Oregon led her to Oklahoma City where she then rented a car to drive to Wichita.

Activists are watching and wondering what tune was being sung last June in Oklahoma. Was it the score from Annie Get Your Gun?

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