In the wake of the re-sentencing of two Oregonian ranchers to 5 years in prison for clearing grazing land, a group of protesters has taken over a federal building to protest over-reach by the Federal Bureau of Land Management.
Ammon Bundy, the 40-year-old son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, has been acting as a spokesman for the group that took over the headquarters building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Standing for the rights of men & womenBREAKING! SHARE! Standing for the rights of Men & Women. Calling all freedom loving people to come to Harney County Oregon, come to the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge. The people are finally getting some good use out of a federal facility.
Posted by Bundy Ranch on Saturday, January 2, 2016
“Now that people such as the Hammonds are taking a stand and not selling their ranches, they are being prosecuted in their own courts as terrorists and putting them in prison for five years,” Bundy said.
Bundy asserts that the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has taken over the space of 100 ranches since the early 1900s.
“We will be here as long as it takes,” said Ammon . “We have no intentions of using force upon anyone, (but) if force is used against us, we would defend ourselves.”
Cliven Bundy, Ammon’ss father, said in a radio interview Saturday night that he had nothing to do with the takeover.
That’s not exactly what I thought should happen, but I didn’t know what to do. You know, if the Hammonds wouldn’t stand, if the sheriff didn’t stand, then, you know, the people had to do something. And I guess this is what they did decide to do. I wasn’t in on that
The Lake Malheur Reservation was established on August 18, 1908 by executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt in response to wildlife preservationists complaints that cattle were destroying the bird habitat in the region. Roosevelt set aside unclaimed government lands encompassed by Malheur, Mud and Harney Lakes “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.”
While Bundy’s assertion has not been confirmed, there have been recent efforts to turn huge swaths of grazing land into Federal monuments effectively removing them from use by ranchers.
An effort by conservation groups to have a large chunk of Malheur County set aside as a national monument or wilderness area has riled up ranchers and farmers in the area.
Locals say the new monument would eliminate 33% of the county’s grazing land and put many in the area out of business.
The protesters are armed and were part of a rally for convicted ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond who will be serving 5 years for unauthorized controlled-burns of underbrush.
“We are not terrorists,” Bundy said. “We are concerned citizens and realize we have to act if we want to pass along anything to our children.”
A Guardian reporter attempted to get into the facility yesterday, but was turned back by militia security. The reported also noted that no police or federal presence was evident.
Social media reactions are mixed. The Twitter hashtag #OregonUnderAttack is full of comments: