A self-organized and self-proclaimed militia group in Oregon has taken control of an empty federal building on the Malheur National Wildlife refuge in Harney County, Oregon. Although local authorities initially responded to the standoff, the FBI has taken the lead in monitoring this situation.
The reported number of people involved in this group of armed protesters, comprised in part of local ranchers, ranges from 15 or 20 to 150. What is certain is the reason. Primarily, this act of insurrection is to bring attention to, and protest, the arrest of the father and son pair of Oregon ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond. Apparently the government has been trying for some time to squeeze, steal, or buy their property to allow the expansion of the bird sanctuary.
Big Brother was really able to put the screws to them when fires they had started on their own property – one to prevent the spread of an invasive species, the other to control a wildfire – inadvertently spread to government land. Several years after these events they were finally arrested and charged with arson under the Anti-terrorism Act. This act requires a sentence of at least five years, but the judge on the case said such a sentence would be cruel and unusual for such a minor offense. They served one year, instead.
Someone at the Bureau of Land Management complained, though, and the Hammonds have been re-sentenced to serve 4 more years. This specifically, and the bullying, harrassing, thug-like way the BLM does business in general, is the reason these armed civilians have taken the action they have.
Significantly, it should be noted that the Hammonds are not part of the group. They have reported to Terminal Island in San Pedro, California, to start serving the additional 4 years of their sentences.
Another rancher who has had run-ins with the BLM is there, however. Ammon Bundy is the spokesman for the group. His father, Cliven Bundy, was the center of a 2014 incident in which the federal government started impounding his cattle after a 20-year long battle about him grazing his cattle on federal land.
Ammon Bundy states the group’s actions are not aggressive, but that their goal is to help local ranchers, miners and hunters be able to benefit from the land that the BLM basically wants to lock up for the bird sanctuary. They claim that the federal government does not have right to own or control land inside the state.
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