Vol. 6, Issue 4, April 15, 2008
Authorities Raid Texas 'Star Wars' Compound
Texas officials are still struggling to cope with the aftermath of last week's raid on the Skywalker Ranch compound ten miles outside El Paso, where over 200 children were taken into custody following a tip to animal control about 'wookie sanitation issues'.
"The problem is these kids have no social skills, no way of relating to the world outside," said El Paso county sheriff Arnold Mocke. "They've been told for years that we, the authorities, represent an evil empire of some sort and must be resisted at all cost. It's kind of disturbing."
The Skywalker Ranch is a compound founded by former Star Wars fan club president Olaf Gundersen, who brought over 300 followers to the isolated Texas property following the release of Star Wars Episode I, "The Phantom Menace". Gundersen felt the prequel showed that George Lucas had lost his way, and claimed to be the holder of the true Star Wars vision.
"His message was very appealing to a certain demographic," said Mocke. "What's surprising is how the group has managed to sustain itself for all these years."
Indeed, the original ratio of males to females was about twenty to one at the ranch, which promised followers a chance to pursue a 'purer' way of life. Today there are nearly a thousand people on the ranch, and women make up an estimated ten percent of the population, leading authorities to speculate that at least some of the hundreds of children may have wandered into the compound on their own.
"There are appealing aspects to the culture on this compound," said Mocke. "Apparently every night was movie night, although the selection appears to have been pretty limited. There is a cantina of some sort, which may or may not have been serving inappropriate beverages to underaged kids, including Mountain Dew Extreme. In addition, the curriculum for the school on site appears to have been driven by Star Wars collectibles."
When authorities arrived, they were greeted by a shouting horde of beige-clad youths ranging in age from 7 to 17, who vigorously defended the compound gates with plastic lightsabers.
"They were enthusiastic," admitted Mocke. "Unfortunately, they were so enthusiastic that they proved more of a danger to themselves than to us."
129 of the children taken from the ranch are being treated for lightsabser-inflicted contusions. They also show signs of malnutrition, having subsisted almost entirely on shipments of Doritos, Mountain Dew, and Bugles. However, authorities are having difficulty interviewing the children, as they have proved uncooperative.
"They were living in an environment designed to resemble huts on a desert world, operating non-functional 'moisture farms' and dressing up their dogs like banthas," said Mocke. "We're pretty sure that there's more to this story. However, they've apparently been coached against cooperating with us. They just sit there waving their hands before the interviewers, repeating 'these are not the droids you're looking for.' It's kind of weird. But we have, in fact, discontinued our investigation into the robots rolling around the compound, for some reason."
It remains unclear what, if any charges will be brought against Gundersen, although the children are being kept at a secure location for their own protection by authorities.
"George Lucas found out that this group was using his trademarks without permission," said Mocke. "We anticipate a major assault by his legal team within the next 24 to 48 hours. I don't think it'll be safe to move the kids back there for a while. Or ourselves, for that matter."