Former president Donald Trump has chosen the first stop on his reelection tour: Waco, Texas, where religious cult leader and anti-government extremist David Koresh led an infamous clash with federal law enforcement in 1993.
Trump will hold a rally in the town on Saturday, during the 30th anniversary of the deadly standoff.
The Trump campaign told TIME that they chose the city because its voters firmly supported the former president in the past. “It is undisputed that Texas is Trump Country after electing 37 Trump Endorsed Candidates and recent polling among Texas primary voters,” they said in a statement.
Trump did win McLennan County, which surrounds Waco, by 23 points in the 2020 election. But Waco has also long been an important landmark for anti-government extremists.
“Waco is hugely symbolic on the far right,” Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, told USA Today. “There’s not really another place in the U.S. that you could pick that would tap into these deep veins of anti-government hatred—Christian nationalist skepticism of the government—and I find it hard to believe that Trump doesn’t know that Waco represents all of these things.”
The siege began on Feb. 28, 1993, when ATF agents carried out a raid on the Branch Davidians cult to serve a search and arrest warrant on the suspicion that they were hoarding weapons. Koresh convinced the group of over a hundred people to arm themselves against the agents, triggering a violent conflict that lasted 51 days. By its end on April 19, the Branch Davidians’ compound was set on fire, killing dozens of cult members, including children.
The rally was announced last Friday, but the timing couldn’t be more serendipitous: Early the next morning, Trump posted that he expected to “BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK” by the Manhattan district attorney, likely as part of the office’s investigation into the $130,000 hush money payment made to Stormy Daniels during his 2016 campaign.
He then called on his supporters to protest his impending arrest and “TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” – a call for unrest that many likened to his incitement of the violence that broke out on Jan. 6 when a mob of his supporters attempted to stop the transfer of power after President Biden’s 2020 victory.
Even Republicans were concerned about the incendiary language and publicly urged that protests remain peaceful and calm.