Controversial Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy took a public breather after the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff. This protracted event started with a dispute over grazing laws and somehow turned into ranch-hosted snipers and federal officers pointing guns at each other. The incident put Bundy on the map as a figurehead for hard-core militiamen, who see tyranny in all federal acts. Bundy was later exposed as a proud racist, and Fox News threw him under the bus, but Bundy still holds a following.
On Saturday, Bundy drama returned with militiamen taking up his cause in Oregon, where they occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters. This act followed a peaceful protest over the impending 5-year imprisonments of two Harney county ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond. The father and son were convicted of arson under an expansive terrorism provision (after they set fires that spread to federal lands). The history of these fires (and the means by which they were prosecuted) is engrossing, and Hammond supporters take issue with how the ranchers were treated like “terrorists.”
Saturday’s occupation saw an estimated 300 marchers, but a splinter group of about 100 — including Clive’s son, Ammon, and two other Bundy brothers — later took over the wildlife refuge. They vowed to occupy the refuge “for years.” The Oregonian‘s Les Zaitz updated the situation on Twitter:
These militiamen are prepared for violent ends. One of the occupiers, Marine Jon Ritzheimer, posted a goodbye video to his family on YouTube. In this 13-minute clip, he says, “Daddy swore an oath to protect and defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that’s why he couldn’t be with you on Christmas.” Ritzheimer cited the Bundy Ranch in Nevada as “a prime example” of “oppression and tyranny.”
Zaitz said the group included Army veteran Ryan Payne, who helped Cliven Bundy organize snipers in Nevada.
Zaitz indicated that the group planned to occupy a nearby fire station, and furthermore, “lives are in jeopardy.”
Indeed, Ryan Payne spoke to The Oregonian‘s Ian Kullgren and said the group is “willing to kill and be killed if necessary.”
Meanwhile, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge posted an unequivocal “CLOSED” notice on their Facebook page.
Whereas Cliven Bundy posted a lengthy press release to his Bundy Ranch Facebook page. The release takes the form of a letter he previously wrote to the Harney County Sheriff’s department.
(Via The Oregonian)