|(Les Zaitz / Associated Press)|
A protest in support of Oregon ranchers facing jail time for arson has escalated into an armed takeover of a federal wildlife building and an anti-government call-to-arms.
The protest and takeover is being led by Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a previous standoff with the government over grazing rights, and two of his brothers. The brothers are calling on anti-government militia members from all over the country to join the seizure of the headquarters building of the remote Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, some 300 miles southeast of Portland.
"We're planning on staying here for years, absolutely," Ammon Bundy told TheOregonian on Saturday. "This is not a decision we've made at the last minute."
The occupation came after an estimated 300 marchers — militia and local citizens — paraded through Burns to protest the prosecution of two Harney County ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr., 73, and Steven Hammond, 46, who are to report to prison Monday, according to The Oregonian.
The pair said they lit the fires in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires. They were convicted of the arsons three years ago and served time — the father three months, the son one year.
But a judge ruled their terms were too short under federal law and ordered them back to prison for about four years each. Dwight Hammond has said he and his son plan to peacefully report to prison Monday, as the judge ordered.
Through their lawyer, the Hammonds have distanced themselves from the Bundys, according to CBS News. "Neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond Family," lawyer W. Alan Schroeder wrote to Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, according to the network.
My first thought when I read this was, "Can you imagine what would have happened if the "militia" was led by Muslim-Americans?
Or if they were black?
According to reports, the vast majority of the "militia" is from out of state. Even though they claim there are there for the local citizens, the locals have told the media they don't want them there.
In response to the actions taken by the "militia," local schools have been ordered closed for the week out of concern for children's safety.
I get the feeling that a lot of these guys were the same ones who said about the uprising in Ferguson: "If they had just obeyed the orders of local law enforcement..."
Some responses on Twitter - the first is from a reporter at the Oregonian:
I talked to Ryan Bundy on the phone again. He said they're willing to kill and be killed if necessary. #OregonUnderAttack— Ian Kullgren (@IanKullgren) January 3, 2016
We send national guards & military to #Ferguson for protesters & watch on every network but white militia take over a federal building, nah.— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) January 3, 2016
Let me get this straight. 150 armed white men are occupying a federal building & this somehow isn't considered terrorism. #OregonUnderAttack— Farid Senzai (@Farid_Senzai) January 3, 2016
So what qualifies you as a "militia"? Cause last time I checked 150 men with semi automatic weapons in my hood is a gang #OregonUnderAttack— IG: tonylcaldwell (@tonycaldwell) January 3, 2016
We all know these terrorists would be DEAD ALREADY if they were black or Muslim. #OregonUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/Al6B5mzWv7— Scott Wooledge (@Clarknt67) January 3, 2016
Not a Militia but Armed Terrorists on Domestic soil. Just call it what it is Terrorism #OregonUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/Kg3U7cTpEy— Thesheepingofamerica (@tsoamerica) January 3, 2016
12 y/o playing in park: Dead Woman no turn signal: Dead Man sells cigarette:Dead 150 armed white men in fed building Fine #OregonUnderAttack— Matt Garrett (@Matt44G) January 3, 2016
Imagine the sheer excitement on @FoxNews and talk radio if 150 armed Muslims took over a federal building #OregonUnderAttack— Umar Lee (@STLAbuBadu) January 3, 2016
So I guess a white "militia" w/guns is no big deal. While a 12 y.o. w/a toy gun is dangerous & scares cops to kill him. #OregonUnderAttack— K Kelly (@GrainOfSands) January 3, 2016
And this cartoon has been tweeted and retweeted thousands of times: