Over in Oregon a group of militiamen have taken over a federal building in protest at the prosecution of two ranchers.
They’ve seized a remote building that houses the offices of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, down in the rural south east of the State, The New York Times reports.
The incident began with a demonstration against the government, after a federal judge ordered Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven Hammond, 46, to return to a prison in California because the sentences they’d served for arson were too lenient.
The Oregonian reported that Ammon and Ryan Bundy were among the demonstrators, the two sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy – the older Bundy became a poster boy for anti-government resentment in 2014, after he had a standoff with agents from the Bureau of Land Management who tried to confiscate his cattle, which had been grazing illegally on federal land since 1993.
But according to the Associated Press, a lawyer for the Hammonds said the Bundy’s help was unwanted, adding: “Neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond family”.
Ammon Bundy posted a video on Facebook asking members of ‘different militia groups’ to come join in with the protest. The Bundys also said the government’s persecution of the Hammonds was a tyrannical use of federal authority, with Ammon describing it as a ‘battle over land and resources between the federal government and the American people.’
Mr Bundy said the group would stay there indefinitely, adding: “We pose no threat to anybody. There is no person that is physically harmed by what we are doing.”
But in an interview with The Oregonian, Mr Bundy and his brother didn’t rule out using violence if law enforcement tried to remove them from the building, adding: “The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds”, and that they planned to stay there for ‘years’.
BREAKING! SHARE! Standing for the rights of Men & Women. Calling all freedom loving people to come to Harney County Oregon, come to the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge. The people are finally getting some good use out of a federal facility.
Posted by Bundy Ranch on Saturday, 2 January 2016
The charges against the Hammonds relate to two fires in 2001 and 2006, they admit starting them but say they did it to protect their property from invasive plant species and wildfire, AP reported. The son served one year in prison and his dad three months.