An Oregon rally in support of two ranchers facing jail time for arson took a drastic turn towards the end, when an armed mob led by the sons of racist Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy took over a federal wildlife refuge building and accused government of unfairly punishing the duo.
Reports say that three sons of Bundy, who achieved national recognition last year after a standoff with federal agents when he refused to pay fees for letting cattle graze on government property, led the takeover. Ammon Bundy confirmed his participation to The Oregonian, and he posted a video to Facebook saying he was prepared to stay there for years, and called for other people to join the participants at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
“This is not a time to stand down,” Bundy says, “it’s a time to stand up and come to Harney County.”
Dwight and Steven Hammond were reported by CNN to be the father/son ranchers who were sentenced to five years in prison for covering up poaching and setting fire to 130 acres, which they alleged was to reduce invasive plants. A lower court reduced their sentences below the 5 year mandatory minimum, but a federal judge subsequently restored the stiffer sentences.
Dwight Hammond and his wife greeted the demonstrators in front of the courthouse, but told the media that the protesters went their own way afterwards, and that he and his son plan to peacefully report to prison tomorrow as scheduled.
An Idaho leader who helped set up the march said he was not aware of what the protesters planned to do after the peaceful march, and Bundy’s father reportedly told Oregon Public Broadcasting he had no knowledge of what his sons had in mind. Around 150 people were reported to have stormed the unoccupied building, and no reports have confirmed any hostages were taken.
“We are not terrorists. We are concerned citizens and realize we have to act if we want to pass along anything to our children,” Ammon Bundy said. “We have no intentions of using force upon anyone, (but) if force is used against us, we would defend ourselves.”
Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward warned local residents to stay away from the building, and FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele stated that authorities were aware of the situation and at work to defuse it. NY Daily News noted, however, that no formal plans have been issued yet for handling it, and the FBI’s Portland office has declined to comment. Named for an early pioneer, the refuge’s name also means “misfortune,” perhaps an omen of the eventual outcome.
The takeover has since prompted a flurry of activity on Twitter:
— CJ Washington⚡️ (@BKCJ) January 3, 2016
white ppl storm locked fed buildings: Militia patriots. Black ppl carry guns on Capitol: Saint Reagan nixes open carry. #OregonUnderAttack
— Alpha Foxtrot (@Af209) January 3, 2016
— Steve Lehto (@stevelehto) January 3, 2016
The Bundy bros have taught me that white privilege is a super power. #OregonUnderAttack
— mohammad barakat (@Mbarakat1990) January 3, 2016
— Jeffrey Cagliklub (@CagleAndrew17) January 3, 2016
That building BELONGS to the tax payers, all federal building do. Those guys in Oregon have a legit reason. #OregonUnderAttack
— The Conservative (@mikeymikedavis) January 3, 2016
— Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) January 3, 2016
[Image via Twitter]
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