— Jason Wilson (@jason_a_w) January 3, 2016
A militia led by Ammon Bundy took over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon on Saturday. That name may sound familiar because he is the son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who is known for his outspoken anti-government views. The protesters are accusing government officials of unfairly punishing ranchers who refused to sell their land near the wildlife refuge. The main focus has been the Hammond family, Oregon ranchers who prosecutors say burned approximately 130 acres to cover up poaching in 2001. The Hammonds said they set the fire to reduce the growth of invasive plants and to protect their property from wildfires.
“Five years ago, a federal grand jury charged Dwight and Steven Hammond with committing arson on public lands and endangering firefighters,” acting U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams of Oregon said. “The fires destroyed evidence of the deer slaughter and took about 130 acres of public land out of public use for two years.”
The 73-year-old father and 46-year-old son of the Hammond family were sentenced to five years in prison.
Dwight Hammond told KOIN 6 News that he doesn’t want the Bundy’s help and that “it’s not about me, it’s about America and somehow we have to get the wheels back on this wagon because they are flying off.”
The Bundy family organized a march on Saturday, which then escalated to the armed protesters breaking into the unoccupied management building on the refuge and refusing to leave. Officials said there are no government employees in the building. Militia members claim there are as many as 150 people at the refuge.
On Sunday, Ammon told CNN that they want the federal government to restore the “people’s constitutional rights.”
“This refuge — it has been destructive to the people of the county and to the people of the area,” he said. “People need to be aware that we’ve become a system where government is actually claiming and using and defending people’s rights, and they are doing that against the people.”
“We are using the wildlife refuge as a place for individuals across the United States to come and assist in helping the people of Harney County claim back their lands and resources,” he said.
“We will be here as long as it takes,” Bundy said. “We have no intentions of using force upon anyone, (but) if force is used against us, we would defend ourselves.”
Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan Bundy told the Oregonian, “We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely. This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.”
I talked to Ryan Bundy on the phone again. He said they’re willing to kill and be killed if necessary. #OregonUnderAttack
— Ian Kullgren (@IanKullgren) January 3, 2016
“We are not terrorists,” Ammon Bundy said. “We are concerned citizens and realize we have to act if we want to pass along anything to our children.”
- Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
- Appear intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping;
- Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
“A collective effort from multiple agencies is currently working on a solution, Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said in a statement. “For the time being please stay away from that area. More information will be provided as it becomes available. Please maintain a peaceful and united front and allow us to work through this situation.”
“While the situation is ongoing, the main concern is employee safety, and we can confirm that no federal staff were in the building at the time of the initial incident,” a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representative said. “We will continue to monitor the situation.”
On April 11, 2014, Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada, was the site of a tense standoff between him and the federal government.
Meanwhile on Twitter, the hashtag #OrgeonUnderAttack is the top trending topic, and there are completely different points of view over the situation
Armed Militia Occupies Federal Building In Oregon, Vows To Be There ‘As Long As It Takes’