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Les Zaitz of The Oregonian says Militia takes over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters 50 miles southeast of Burns

Saturday, January 2, 2016 19:26
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Militia takes over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters |

By Les Zaitz | The Oregonian/OregonLive

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on January 02, 2016 at 3:20 PM, updated January 02, 2016 at 6:13 PM

Showdown in Burns

Militia takes over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters

Burns residents confront militia over fears of violence

Oregon ranchers’ fight with feds sparks militias’ interest

Militiamen, ranchers in showdown for soul of Burns

Updated at 4:01 p.m.

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 year.

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 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 was closed and unoccupied for the 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 law enforcement tries 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.”

Neither would say how many people are in the building or whether they are armed. Ryan Bundy said the group would release a statement shortly.

“We will do whatever it takes to maintain our freedom,” he said.

Pennies In Protest Marchers pause outside the entrance to the Harney County Sheriff’s Office to toss pennies. The coins were meant to symbolize citizens buying back their government

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 had a video posted on his Facebook page calling on patriots from across the country should to report to the refuge – with their weapons.

Burns Protest Marchers including militia and local residents Saturday head for the Harney County Courthouse as part of a protest against government.

The dramatic turn came after other militia groups had tried to damp down community concerns they meant trouble.

Brandon Curtiss, a militia leader from Idaho, told The Oregonian/OregonLive he knew nothing about the occupation. He helped organize Saturday’s protest and was at the Harney County Fairgrounds with dozens of other militia for a post-parade function.

The occupation is being led by hard-core militia who adopted the Hammond cause as their own.

Ian K. Kullgren of The Oregonian/OregonLive contributed to this report.

Les Zaitz


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