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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Armed militia group attempting to overthrow the government

    Oregon sheriff says refuge occupiers trying to overthrow government


    An entrance to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge about 30 miles southeast of Burns, Ore., on Jan. 3.
    (Les Zaitz / Oregonian)


    Nigel Duara Contact Reporter

    A group of armed activists who have seized control of part of a federal wildlife refuge in southern Oregon appear to be aiming "to overthrow the county and federal government," a local law enforcement official said Sunday.

    Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said authorities from "several organizations" are working to peacefully resolve the standoff, which began Saturday when an unknown number of armed activists occupied an uninhabited building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, about 30 miles outside the town of Burns, Ore.


    "These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers, when in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States," Ward said in a statement Sunday.


    There were no signs of confrontation Sunday at the small refuge headquarters building, seized in what activists said was a protest against the federal prosecution of two ranchers and a bid to reclaim local control of federally managed land.


    One of the protesters just at the entrance to the refuge, Jon Ritzheimer of Phoenix, said the activists were not blocking access to the facility and were breaking no laws.

    "There's Oregon county residents coming here, the refuge is open, there's zero no trespassing signs, we're breaking no laws. We're out here on public lands," Ritzheimer said in a video posted on Facebook.


    He warned law enforcement officials against creating "another Ruby Ridge," a reference to a deadly 1992 siege in northern Idaho between the FBI and backwoods cabin dweller Randy Weaver.


    "We will not fire unless fired upon, but we will stand and defend the Constitution," Ritzheimer said. "Yes, there are some people that are armed. We need to defend our rights. That's what the Second Amendment is there for, people."


    Ward said police are asking residents to avoid the refuge for their safety.”

    Burns, Ore.
    (Los Angeles Times)


    "At this time, we do not have any information that any other areas in Harney County are in immediate danger," he said.

    County officials announced that schools would remain closed through the week pending a resolution.


    U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the FBI was leading the law enforcement response, in coordination with the Oregon State Police and local law enforcement authorities. Wyden said he was himself heading to southern Oregon to meet with local residents.


    "I understand why rural Oregonians are so frustrated about this economy," Wyden said a a press conference.

    "But the next step from frustration is not to walk off a cliff, misled by some outsiders who seem willing to take the law into their own hands."


    Those leading what amounts to an armed occupation at the small, remote building say they are the vanguard of a national movement to resist the government’s ownership of vast stretches of land in the West.


    The move began Saturday after a peaceful rally near Burns, where more than 150 people gathered in support of the ranchers who are facing additional jail time for arson.


    A small, armed breakaway faction then moved on the wildlife refuge, which was closed and empty.


    Dozens of protesters who marched through the town of Burns called for the federal government to back down in its enforcement of public lands regulations.


    "We're here to stand up for our brothers and sisters and show the world, show America: You mess with us, you mess with all of us," co-organizer Jeff Roberts told a gathering.


    "This isn't an Oregon problem, this is a national problem, and it's happening everywhere," he said.


    Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven Hammond, 46, said they set fires in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires.


    The two were convicted of the arsons three years ago and served time — Dwight three months, and Steven a year.

    But a judge ruled their terms were too short under federal law and ordered them back to prison for about four years each.


    Hammond has said he and his son plan to report to prison Monday in San Pedro as ordered by a judge, but the court decision has generated controversy across the West.


    Protesters at the Burns rally came from as far away as Idaho, Nevada and Arizona.


    "It's about this community being trampled on," one of the organizers, who did not identify himself, said as he stood on the bed of a pickup truck in the parking lot of a Safeway supermarket.

    "This is the public saying we're not going to take it anymore, we've had it.... The people of the republic are tired, and it starts right here in this parking lot, guys."


    The procession stopped briefly at the Hammonds' home, where supporters greeted the elder Hammond on the front porch and sang "Amazing Grace."


    The group at the wildlife refuge is apparently led by sons of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who in 2014 led a standoff against federal agents who sought to collect Bundy’s cattle over his $1-million debt to the Bureau of Land Management for grazing fees.


    Hundreds of self-styled militiamen flocked to Bundy’s ranch and, after pointing weapons at federal agents, ended the standoff without paying the grazing fees or losing their cattle.


    At the time, BLM and law enforcement officials worried privately that the standoff would embolden the movement and cement Bundy’s status as a movement leader.


    "We can enforce the Constitution in Harney County and that’s what we intend to do," Bundy's son Ammon told reporters at the rally. "We have a lot of plans."

    His father told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he had spoken to his son and it appeared he and his cohorts were equipped with food and a generator.


    "He told me that they were there for the long run. I guess they figured they're going to be there for whatever time it takes — and I don't know what that means," the elder Bundy said.


    Another of Bundy's sons, Ryan, who also appears to be at the wildlife refuge, told the Oregonian that the protesters want to see local control of federal land.


    "The best possible outcome is that the ranchers that have been kicked out of the area, then they will come back and reclaim their land, and the wildlife refuge will be shut down forever and the federal government will relinquish such control," he said.

    "What we're doing is not rebellious. What we're doing is in accordance with the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land."


    The main body of protesters sought to distance themselves from the breakaway faction, which Ammon Bundy said does not consider itself a militia, and the father and son for whom the protest was held are similarly unaffiliated with the occupation.


    In Western states, idea of reclaiming federal land still has a strong allure

    A number of Western conservatives have called for the return of federal lands to state and local government. The movement has waxed and waned since the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1980s, which centered on ranchers’ rights and the money that could be made from timber harvesting, mining and ranching, if only the federal government didn‘t forbid such profitable endeavors.

    The movement has picked up steam in recent years, led by Utah legislator Ken Ivory, who helms a national organization called the American Lands Council that tries to persuade county and state governments to pursue the ownership of federal lands. A watchdog group has accused him of fraud in three states for his use of taxpayer dollars.


    The Southern Poverty Law Center, in a report on the Bundy standoff, said the militiamen and the federal land-return movement are part of the same spectrum.


    “Antigovernment extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement,” the center said in the report.


    The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, incorporated in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, has grown since its inception and presents challenges to the ranching families in the area, who say they are increasingly hemmed in by the federal preserve.


    Beginning about one month ago, Ammon Bundy and others arrived in Burns and agitated locals, who wondered what they were up to. By Saturday, the plan became clear, and the Bundys, via their ranch’s Facebook page, called for “all freedom-loving people” to help occupy the wildlife refuge.


    “The people are finally getting some good use out of a federal facility,” read a post by the Bundy Ranch on its Facebook page.


    The wildlife preserve is in a remote region of south-central Oregon, and the protest overwhelmed the already limited Harney County Sheriff’s Office, which asked the public to stop calling on Saturday because residents were having trouble reaching emergency dispatchers.


    “A collective effort from multiple agencies is currently working on a solution,” Ward said in a statement Saturday night. “For the time being, please stay away from that area.”


    http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-...103-story.html
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    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    One of the protesters just at the entrance to the refuge, Jon Ritzheimer of Phoenix, said the activists were not blocking access to the facility and were breaking no laws.

    "There's Oregon county residents coming here, the refuge is open, there's zero no trespassing signs, we're breaking no laws. We're out here on public lands," Ritzheimer said in a video posted on Facebook.
    So what's the problem?
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    Terrorists? Freedom fighters? Oregon standoff poses quandary for media.


    Rancher Cliven Bundy speaks at an event Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Bunkerville, Nev. (John Locher/AP)


    By Paul Farhi
    January 3 at 7:37 PM


    Militiamen? Activists? Terrorists?


    In the wake of the seizure of a federal wildlife management building in eastern Oregon by armed protesters on Saturday, the news media have struggled with how to refer to the people involved.


    The descriptions have included “self-styled militiamen” (Reuters), “armed activists” (the New York Times) and “armed protesters” (The Washington Post), as well as a number of other variations on the theme.


    The media’s attempts to find a neutral formulation were in stark contrast with the partisan fray on social media, where supporters and detractors of the protest group found their own adjectives.

    The majority of those posting under the Twitter hashtag *#OregonUnderAttack seemed to prefer more loaded phrases, such as “domestic terrorists.”


    The debate over what to call the 150 or so men involved in the standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is reminiscent of other long-standing controversies involving labels that can be interpreted as biased.

    Republicans, for example, have pressed President Obama and Democratic presidential candidates to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe various terrorist acts — something the Democrats have rejected as unhelpful to combating terrorism as well as inaccurate.


    News media wrestle frequently with such characterizations, hoping to steer as neutral a course as possible.

    Almost all major news outlets surveyed on Sunday said they were avoiding the use of the words “terrorist” and “terrorism” in connection with the Oregon protest, saying it was unclear that the group’s action was designed to terrorize or harm anyone.


    “We are mainly referring to them as ‘protesters’ or ‘armed men who are occupying the refuge headquarters,’ ” said Kim Murphy, the assistant managing editor for foreign and national news at the Los Angeles Times.

    “This is a dispute that clearly goes to a fundamental public policy debate, and we don’t add any value by attempting to characterize it.”


    Scott Wilson, The Washington Post’s national editor, said the paper is using the terms “occupiers” and “militia members” when those involved identify themselves that way.


    “We believe these terms most precisely describe what is taking place, the tactics being used and those involved,” he said. “Further, terrorism is a tactic meant to instill fear in a population or group. In this case, the occupiers, though armed, are not terrorizing, but rather occupying a government building in protest or solidarity.”


    The group’s apparent leader, Ammon Bundy, told CNN:

    “We are not terrorists. We are concerned citizens and realize we have to act if we want to pass along anything to our children.”


    The group’s leaders said they occupied the empty government building near Burns, Ore., to protest the federal government’s treatment of two local ranchers convicted of arson for burning federal land.

    The ranchers, Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven Hammond, 46, are scheduled to report to federal prison Monday.


    Several news organizations, including Reuters, The Post and the New York Times, called the occupiers “militiamen.” But even that word was up for debate.

    The New York Times’ editors wrestled with the best description when the story broke late Saturday, said Marc Lacey, the newspaper’s weekend editor.

    “We are currently using ‘militiamen’ in a headline on the website that is in the process of being updated, and we believe the most accurate term in the article may be ‘armed anti-government activists,’ ” he said.


    Bundy, on CNN on Sunday, said he wouldn’t describe his group as a militia. For what it’s worth, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “militia” as “a group of people who are not part of the armed forces of a country but are trained like soldiers” — a description that would not cover the loose assemblage that broke away from a larger protest in Oregon to occupy the building.


    A further issue: How, if at all, to characterize the politics of the group involved? Many media accounts left that question untouched, but several noted that the protest had its roots in conservative resentment over the government’s efforts to enforce land-use restrictions on ranchers.


    The Oregon protest appears to be an outgrowth of a 2014 standoff between Bureau of Land Management authorities and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, the father of Ammon Bundy, after BLM agents had attempted to confiscate cattle Bundy had illegally grazed on federal land.


    Fox News, on its website, noted that the protest was touched off by the sentencing of the Hammonds, which it said “touched a nerved with far right groups who repudiate federal authority.”


    The New York Times also said that Cliven Bundy “previously galvanized conservative critics” with his stand against federal authorities.


    The Post noted all this background but avoided using the terms “conservative” or “right wing” to describe the occupiers. Wilson, the national editor, said the paper will “likely try to avoid [such labels] unless we have evidence to support one of those characterizations.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifes...1de_story.html

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    So what's the problem?
    So far only "Breaking and entering".
    They broke into a locked building.

    . . . "After the march Saturday, the armed protesters broke into the refuge's unoccupied building and refused to leave. Officials have said there are no government employees in the building." . . .
    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/03/us/ore...efuge-protest/
    Last edited by JohnDoe2; 01-03-2016 at 09:35 PM.
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    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDoe2 View Post
    So far only "Breaking and entering".
    They broke into a locked building.

    . . . "After the march Saturday, the armed protesters broke into the refuge's unoccupied building and refused to leave. Officials have said there are no government employees in the building." . . .
    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/03/us/ore...efuge-protest/
    The article didn't say it was locked. They may have just opened the door. They're assembled to protest and at least one person at the gate doesn't feel they've broken any laws. I don't agree with what they're doing but they do have the right to protest so long as they don't break any laws. That Bundy guy is a strange bird. He claims the federal government is taking land from farmers, but aren't those lands public lands and the farmers are just leasing them and paying very little on the leases to begin with? I think that was the story on another situation down in Texas. It wasn't the government taking more land, it was the government terminating ranch leases, which it has the right and full authority to do.
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by JohnDoe2
    So far only "Breaking and entering".
    They broke into a locked building.

    . . . "After the march Saturday, the armed protesters broke into the refuge's unoccupied building and refused to leave. Officials have said there are no government employees in the building." . . .
    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/03/us/ore...efuge-protest/


    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    The article didn't say it was locked. They may have just opened the door. . . .
    The article did say "BROKE INTO".
    I do not know Oregon laws but in most places being armed during the commission of a crime is a separate crime.
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    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDoe2 View Post
    Originally Posted by JohnDoe2
    So far only "Breaking and entering".
    They broke into a locked building.

    . . . "After the march Saturday, the armed protesters broke into the refuge's unoccupied building and refused to leave. Officials have said there are no government employees in the building." . . .
    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/03/us/ore...efuge-protest/


    The article did say "BROKE INTO".
    I do not know Oregon laws but in most places being armed during the commission of a crime is a separate crime.
    But JohnDoe2, you know you can't rely upon that phrase "broke into" by the media as being an actual breaking of a lock. If they actually committed the crime of breaking and entering, the media would have said how they broke into the building. My guess is it's an empty unoccupied building and the doors weren't locked.

    The Sheriff didn't say they broke into the building. He said they're "occupying it". They may have broken into it, but until someone says they broke a lock or knocked out windows or tore open a door with a crow-bar or however they committed the crime of "breaking and entering" or "broke into" a locked facility, I'm for giving them the benefit of the doubt, even though I don't agree with what they're doing, it may well be a perfectly legal protest on public property.
    Last edited by Judy; 01-03-2016 at 10:15 PM.
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    As per usual anything you say has to be fact

    and anything anyone else, or the media says has to be wrong?
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    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDoe2 View Post
    As per usual anything you say has to be fact

    and anything anyone else, or the media says has to be wrong?
    Well, no, JohnDoe2. Just tell me how they "broke in" before you tell me they committed "breaking and entering". That's a pretty essential element of a breaking and entering charge is how they broke in. And we know CNN is dishonest and sloppy as hell, so why stand up for them instead of my point?
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