They call themselves U.S. Patriots. These U.S. patriots are currently occupying a park visited by tourists and nature loving people from everywhere. It’s in the western U.S. State of Oregon. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is located roughly 30 miles south of the town of Burns, Oregon.
The Park Headquarter today has been occupied 150 arnwsmilitiamen. The occupiers carry deadly weapons and claim they are protesting the pending imprisonment of two Oregon ranchers accused of arson. Their argument is that the U.S.federal government has no authority in local cases.
Harney County used to be the richest in the state, and is now the poorest. This radical proposal to solve the situation is to have armed “patriots” come and live in a de-facto self-rule zone independent of the federal authorities.
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge provides numerous recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors every year. Bird watching, wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing or hunting are the primary activities enjoyed by visitors on the refuge. Regulation of recreation activities allow for public enjoyment of the refuge while still protecting wildlife and habitats.
According to one of the occupiers, their hope will spell the beginning of a US-wide movement.
“It doesn’t have to stop here. This could be a hope that spreads through the whole country, the whole United States. Everybody’s looking for this hope because the government has beat us, and oppressed us, and took everything from us; they will not stop until we tell them no,” he claims.
A report just published by The Oregonion newspaper says:
pdate at 9:15 p.m.: Statement from Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward: “After the peaceful rally was completed today, a group of outside militants drove to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, where they seized and occupied the refuge headquarters. A collective effort from multiple agencies is currently working on a solution. 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.”
The Bundy family of Nevada joined with hard-core militiamen Saturday to take over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, vowing to occupy the remote federal outpost 50 miles southeast of Burns for years.
The occupation came shortly after an estimated 300 marchers – militia and local citizens both – paraded through Burns to protest the prosecution of two Harney County ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, who are to report to prison on Monday.
Among the occupiers is Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and two of his brothers. Militia members at the refuge claimed they had as many as 150 supporters with them. The refuge, federal property managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was closed and unoccupied for the holiday weekend.
In phone interviews from inside the occupied building Saturday night, Ammon Bundy and his brother, Ryan Bundy, said they are not looking to hurt anyone. But they would not rule out violence if police try to remove them, they said, though they declined to elaborate.
“The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds,” Ammon Bundy said.
“We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely,” he added. “This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.”
“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.”
Government sources told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the militia also was planning to occupy a closed wildland fire station near the town of Frenchglen. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management posts crews there during the fire season.
Law enforcement officials so far have not commented on the situation. Oregon State Police, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI were involved.
Ammon Bundy posted a video on his Facebook page calling on patriots from across the country to report to the refuge – with their weapons.