The 1992 standoff at the remote cabin took the lives of three people, and inflamed simmering anti-government resentment among groups who were already becoming active in the Pacific Northwest, director Barak Goodman’s film suggests.
“Ruby Ridge” tells the story of how things went tragically wrong in a confrontation between Randy Weaver — who was wanted for failing to appear in court on a weapons charge — and federal agents, who knew from surveillance camera footage that the Weaver family had weapons.
Seen together with Goodman’s companion “American Experience” documentary, “Oklahoma City,” which aired Feb. 7, “Ruby Ridge” links the Idaho siege with the deadly 1993 Waco standoff between the FBI and the Branch Davidian apocalyptic Christian cult. Both events played a significant role in convincing Timothy McVeigh that the government was his enemy, and contributed to McVeigh’s decision to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, a domestic terrorism attack that killed 168 people.
In “Ruby Ridge,” Goodman includes a detailed chronology of what led up to the 11-day standoff that became national news and, Goodman contends, formed the basis for the modern American militia movement.