Another act of domestic terrorism has taken place as armed White militia terrorists have occupied a government building near Burns, Oregon. At the center of the action is Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who gained national attention for holding off federal authorities in a dispute over land rights in June 2015. During that standoff, armed protesters pointed weapons at law enforcement. This time at least 100 armed White militia members have occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, a federal facility. The occupation came after a peaceful protest in support of Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, a father and son who are due to report to prison soon. The ranchers have been involved in a long running legal battle with the federal government over land and grazing rights. The legal battle became a personal issue to the Hammonds, who have owned extensive land and cattle since the 1870s.
In June 2012, the Hammonds were convicted of starting fires in 2001 and 2006 by a federal jury. They were labeled terrorists and actually convicted using the 1996 Antiterrorism Act. A judge sentenced Dwight (the father) to three months in prison and Steven to 12 months in federal prison and they were ordered to pay a fine of $400K to the Bureau of Land Management.
The charges carried a minimum/maximum of five years but the judge in the case decided it would by a violation of the 8th Amendment resulting in “cruel and unusual punishment” to sentence the men to five years. Both men served their time but in October 2015, they were re-sentenced to serve out a prison term that equaled the five-year minimum. This unusual decision by the 9th US District Court meant that the men would report to prison on Monday, Jan. 14, 2016. This is why the militia has occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, which has been at the center of the dispute. The area of the refuge covers 187,000 acres and stretches over 45 miles long and 37 miles wide and surrounds the Hammond’s land.
Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward issued a statement asking for calm and telling the public to stay away from the area as a multi-agency task force is gathering to plan their next move.
“The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds. … We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely. This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute,” stated Bundy.
Bundy would not say whether the militia group is armed, but they apparently have Internet access. He posted a video on Facebook asking for patriots across the country to come to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge with their weapons. Bundy and the other protesters are demanding that the Hammonds be released and the federal government give up control of 187,000 acres of the refuge to ranchers and miners.
“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. 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,” said Bundy, insisting that he and the occupiers are not terrorists.