January 3, 2016
So a militia associated with angry rancher Cliven Bundy has taken over a wildlife refuge center to protest something to do with federal land management.
A so-called militia with ties to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy seized a federal building in a southeast Oregon wildlife refuge and have no plans to leave.
Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, was among the self-described militiamen occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters and visitor center with eyes on a U.S. Bureau of Land Management fire station near Frenchglen, the Oregonian reported.
“We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely,” Ammon Bundy told The Oregonian. “This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.”
Bundy, who lives in Idaho, called upon fellow militia members to “come prepared” and join protesters rallying for two ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven, who have been ordered to serve a five-year prison sentence for arson.
It’s unclear if the militia members camped out at the Malheur building are armed.
“I just felt like what happened to us is happening to them,” Bundy said in a video shared Friday.
“This is not a time to stand down, it is time to stand up and come to Harney County,” Bundy said in a separate video on Facebook.
Despite Bundy’s claim he and other protesters are in it for the long haul at the wildlife refuge, he told his wife he would only “be gone for a couple days.”
Bundy’s call-to-action garnered an apparent goodbye video from one of his militia followers addressed to his wife and two daughters, ages 3 and 5. The video was recorded at some point before the holidays, tearfully explaining why he wouldn’t be home during Christmas or New Years.
“Kids, I’m sorry. I won’t be coming home for Christmas. I may never be coming home again. I have to sacrifice my life, to fight a war against the greatest enemy of mankind: land management agencies.”
“This is one of the tougher videos I’ve had to make,” said a man identified as Jon Ritzheimer. “I love you, my beautiful wife. I know I never said it enough but I’ve become so proud of the mother you’ve become.”
“We the people need to take a stand,” said Ritzheimer, adding he expects 75-year-old Dwight Hammond to die in prison.
“Dwight, do you want die in prison labeled as a terrorist by these oppressors,” Ritzheimer asked. “Or do you want to die out here with us a free man. I want to die a free man.”
A judge has ordered the Hammonds to report to prison Monday to serve a lengthier sentence after being convicted in 2012 of igniting two fires in 2001 and 2006 on federal land leased for cattle grazing.
The father and son claim the blazes were a precaution against future wildfires and invasive plants.
Presumably, that is the truth about why they did it. But I would also presume they knew it was illegal to do so.
Bundy’s father, Cliven, made headlines in 2014 as the anti-government rancher who got into an armed confrontation with federal agents over unpaid grazing fines.
In a statement, Cliven Bundy asked the Hammonds to seek protective custody at the Harney County jail instead giving into a tougher prison sentence.
Ammon Bundy and two of his brothers were among hundreds of protesters in Burns rallying in support of the Hammonds outside the Harney County courthouse in Burns Saturday afternoon before a splinter group broke into the remote refuge headquarters about 245 miles southeast of Portland.
A FBI spokeswoman is aware of the militia take-over at the Malheur refuge, but would not comment further.
The refuge encompasses nearly 190,000 acres of wetlands and desert frequented by hunters and fishermen with a visitor center. Because of the militia occupation, the refuge will be closed to the public instead of opening at 8 a.m. Monday.
If you want to know more about this, you should probably check infowars.com. This isn’t really my beat.
Of course, if they end-up in a Waco-style shootout with the BATF, that will certainly be a happening. I just wish their agenda was more clear, as I don’t really think “Federal land management” in relation to cattle grazing regulations is a particularly important issue to the public at large, which means these people end up looking simply unhinged, if not like actual terrorists.
I’m sure some of our readers are more informed on this than I am. I want to note that I am not saying these people don’t have any valid issues. Presumably they do. I just don’t personally view cattle-grazing laws as of key importance at present.
Obviously, it can be framed as a “last straw” type thing, where the Federal government has pushed us so far that we just can’t take anymore, but it seems like another issue would have been a better place to make a last stand, as “these people are telling me I have to pay extra taxes on my cows and say I can’t burn forests to clear the weeds” is not something that is going to get a lot of popular sympathy.