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Texas Police Cut Power To Separatists

Fri., May 2, 1997

Police Thursday cut electrical power to the trailer here in the West Texas mountains where armed separatists have been holed up for five days.

Despite a promise not to pull the plug as long as Richard L. McLaren and members of his so-called Republic of Texas were willing to resume negotiations, authorities decided the measure was necessary “just to show that the Department of Public Safety is serious about bringing this matter to a resolution,” said state police spokesman Mike Cox.

Earlier in the day, after listening to pleas from his attorney on Fort Davis’ only radio station, McLaren agreed to resume talks with authorities, who had lost contact with him Tuesday night. He also went back to preparing reams of supposed “diplomatic” documents, which SWAT agents picked up in an armored personnel carrier and delivered to his lawyer.

“So far, no substantial developments have occurred, but we’re delighted that talking is under way,” Cox said. That optimism, however, was tempered by a number of bizarre twists that added to the ordeal’s surreal air.

In a statement from another Republic of Texas faction, which had split with McLaren earlier this year, the militant group expressed newfound solidarity with its breakaway “ambassador.” Wary of “a massive military-style assault” by police, the Republic indicated that its defense forces had been placed on “Yellow Alert One,” apparently a heightened degree of readiness.

As if to prove the point, two Republic of Texas members - Leonard Martin, 60, of Sanderson and Dale Martin, 37, of Longview, Wash. - were arrested at a security checkpoint with a stolen semiautomatic rifle in their car.

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