Nel's New Day

January 18, 2016

MLK Day: Bundy Clueless about Civil Disobedience

MLK Day honors a man who tried to makes lives better for poor and black people through civil disobedience while Malheur occupiers use firearms to keep people from using public land. 

If Martin Luther King, Jr. had not been murdered in 1968, he might have turned 87 years of age last Friday. For 30 years, the man who espoused nonviolent civil disobedience has been remembered by a federal day in his honor, but the country has not been solidly behind King’s achievements. Ninety representatives and 22  senators, mostly Republican, still opposed this commemoration, arguing that the nation had been “misled into believing MLK was a great man.” President Ronald Reagan threatened to veto the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Day until Congress passed the bill by a veto-proof majority.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) defended his state’s governor, Evan Mecham, in rescinding the state holiday in 1986. Mecham told a group of black community leaders, “King doesn’t deserve a holiday. You folks don’t need another holiday. What you folks need are jobs.” Arizona started celebrating MLK Day only after NFL threatened to boycott hosting Super Bowl XXVII in 1990.

South Carolina was the last state to recognize the day as a paid holiday for all state employees. Prior to that, Southern states avoided the celebration of MLK Day by forcing employees to choose between this day or one of three Confederate holidays. Even today, three states—Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi—honor both MLK and Robert E. Lee, Confederate general on the third Monday of January.

Eight men who voted against honoring MLK are still serving in Congress: all are Republicans although Richard Shelby was a Democrat when he cast his vote in 1983. Senate: Richard Shelby (AL), Chuck Grassley (IA), John McCain (AZ), and Orrin Hatch (UT). House: Jim Sensenbrenner (WI), Hal Rogers (KY), Jim Scalise (LA), and Johnny Isakson (GA).

This is the first year that the Confederate flag has not flown over the South Carolina state capitol on MLK Day. North Carolina educator and activist Bree Newsome climbed the 30-foot flagpole in front of the statehouse and removed the flag ten days after a white man, showing white supremacy symbols including the Confederate flag on his website, killed nine black people during a prayer service in their church. This tragedy occurred in a state where the governor, Nikki Haley, said last week, “We’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion.” After heated arguments last summer, the state authorized moving the flag to a museum at a cost of over $3 million.

Today, MLK Day, people were allowed to go into national parks for free—except for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in north-central Oregon. That’s because a group of armed white people occupy the refuge, asserting that the public land belongs to “we the people.” Yet their occupation keeps everyone else from being able to use land that belongs to all the people, not just the few who patrol the land with semi-automatic rifles.

Environmentalists are taking on these men. A group of almost 300 people gathered at a protest in Bend, 150 miles southeast of Malheur.  Bitterbrush Broadband and their parent group, Old Broads for Wilderness originally designed to protect the country’s public lands on behalf of the elderly and not-so-able, are joining the Audubon Society and other advocacy groups against the occupation of Malheur. According to the broads, it’s time for people to push back against the hooligans. At their rally, they explained how Malheur had been the poster child for collaboration between locals and the feds and how hypocritical and racist the militants are. A “bro,” or male broad, described how he had been turned away from the refuge by a man with a large assault rifle.

hendersonToday environmental activist Candy Henderson, 64, attended a briefing by Malheur occupiers on her way from Walla Walla to Houston for breast cancer treatment. when occupiers claimed that the U.S. must turn the land back to the people because the government has no right to purchase property, Henderson asked if Alaska should be returned to Russia or if the Louisiana Purchase was to return to France. She said that she wanted the government to keep the refuge and other federal properties:

“I want to go to Mt. Rushmore again. I want to go to the national forests and the national Parklands.”

Bundy

One of the occupiers asked if the people behind Henderson were FBI informants and yelled at a man holding a sign that read, “Ideas, not guns”:

“Do you remember what I said to you about that sign? Don’t bring a butter knife to a gun fight.”

When Newsome came down from the South Carolina flagpole on June 17, 2015, she said, “I’m prepared to be arrested.” That is an act of civil disobedience, a peaceful type of protest used by Henry David Thoreau when he refused to pay his taxes in protest of the Mexican-American War and slavery in 1846 and continued by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his attempt to improve the plight of poor and black people. King was arrested 30 times and peacefully went to jail each time.

In contrast, Malheur occupiers threaten violence to anyone who opposes them and aren’t willing to be imprisoned to highlight what they perceive to be injustices. Instead they are capitalists living off the government and donations to get attention. Occupier spokesman is Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy who owns almost $1 million worth of cattle and grazes them free on public lands in Clark County (NV) because he has refused to pay any fees since 1993.

Bundy wants to “return” the land to the “people,” meaning ranchers although the land was Northern Paiute Indigenous territory called Malheur (“misfortune” or “tragedy” in French) in the 1870s where occupiers now live. Malheur, like much of public land in the United States, is owned by “we the people” because native peoples were forced to leave them and the federal government purchased the land. Ranchers like the Bundys have broad expanses of land because the federal government privatized land after dispossessing indigenous peoples or maintained public land for their use.

The two ranchers of Harney County, imprisoned for arson and illegal activities, have received federal largess. Hammond Ranches received $295,000 in payments between 1995 and 2012 under various conservation, livestock disaster, crop disaster and other federal assistance programs. Other federal bonuses for the Hammonds:

  • A government program that protects ranchers’ and farmers’ livestock from predators, including killing five coyotes for the ranchers between 2009 and 2011.
  • Charges to the ranchers of only $1.35 for a cow and calf per month, a savings of 93 percent for the ranchers for using public rather than private lands.
  • Reimbursement of half the grazing fees to the ranchers for range betterment to benefit the ranchers.
  • A federal drought disaster relief program that provided two insurgent rancher families in Nevada $2.2 million in 2013.
  • The federal “emergency feed program” providing money for feed even with no emergency.

Removal of wild horses from public lands to make way for cattle.

Many people in Harney County suffer from poverty, but these aren’t the people who would get the land if the Bundys were successful. Occupiers want to give the land to other ranchers like these:

Treetop Ranches, controlled by Larry and Marianne Williams who complain about government overreach, owns 6000 cattle impacting 750,000 acres and 100 race horses, one of them finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby. The Williams also made millions in timber.

Roaring Springs Ranch with its manager, Stacy Davies, extols the virtues of cattle grazing and subsidized taxpayer-funded clear cutting of Western juniper. The Sanders family, timber mill barons, purchased the ranch in 1992. Its 1,011,792 acres, three-fourths leased from the government, sustains over 6,200 head of cattle and 150 horses as well as 2,500 acres of meadow hay and 1,200 acres of alfalfa. The owners of six sawmills have an agreement with the federal government that precludes an endangered-species listing while government subsidizes projects, disguised as watersheds and redband trout protections, that maintain high levels of grazing disguised as watersheds and redband trout protections. Taxpayers provided the Sanders with $300,000 over five years starting in 2007 to provide the ranch with fencing. Davies praised this “funding and expertise” as a “fantastic partnership.”

Ranchers have succeeded in exempting agreement information from Records Act requests in Oregon, and the federal Farm Bill prevents anyone from discovering who is receiving government munificence. The Roaring Springs Ranch has its own biologist to ensure that these agreements keep benefitting themselves. The result is use of federal funding to protect wildlife going to wealthy ranchers who destroy wildlife.

Bundy wants these people to get public lands purchased by taxpayers—i.e., “we the people.” He and others claim the occupiers use “civil disobedience,” but their using weapons to keep people off public land mark them as insurrectionists trying to destroy the federal government. Lack of prosecution for the Bundy family and their followers in 2014 after they pulled guns on federal agents and anyone near the Bundy ranch in Nevada has led to a geometric increase of white supremacists who are terrorizing the United States. It’s past time for the government to stop the current insurgency.

January 15, 2016

Insurgents Intimidate Oregon Residents; One Arrested

Filed under: Terrorism — trp2011 @ 9:42 PM
Tags: , ,

Thirteen days after a small group of armed militants took over federal buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in north-central Oregon, one of them finally got arrested. After a number of law enforcement agencies monitored their illegal activities, Oregon State Police on Friday arrested 62-year-old Kenneth Medenback of Crescent (OR) for driving a stolen federal vehicle into Burns to the grocery store. Medenback is facing federal charges in Medford and had been released on the condition that he would not “occupy” any federal land. The man has a long history of convictions.

Opinion about their insurgency was mixed, but the residents have become increasingly concerned by the insurgents’ intimidation, threatening and following people who live in Burns. Refuge employees have been forced to leave the area, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “is taking necessary steps to ensure employee and family safety.” Harney County Sheriff David Ward said that his deputies and own family members had been followed home, photographed, and had personal property damaged in recent months.

Members of the Pacific Patriots Network from Oregon, Washington and Idaho, carrying rifles and sidearms and clad in military attire and bulletproof vests, tried to join Bundy’s group at Malheur. Told to leave, they moved on to Burns where they harass the residents. The occupation has developed the feeling of a siege.Malheur

The insurgents’ illegal actions began with taking over a federal building and the surrounding lands. If a person “knowingly converts to his use” property of the federal government, that person could face a fine and a prison sentence of up to 10 years if the value of the property is greater than $1,000. Willful property destruction at protected sanctuaries could yield a six-month prison sentence. A separate statute says that if someone “willfully and maliciously” destroys property on certain federal lands, then he or she could face a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.

The militants promised that they wouldn’t damage any property while they squatted on the land in their attempt to get public land given to private individuals, but thus far they have

  • Used the site’s kitchens, beds, offices, museum, and other buildings.
  • Driven federal vehicles around the compound and into Burns.
  • Used federal IDs found on the premises.
  • Accessed government computers to find personal information about employees such as addresses and Social Security numbers.
  • Used a federal excavator to remove government fencing between private and public lands.
  • Built new roads with no attention to cultural artifacts, habitat, and wildlife.
  • Removed surveillance cameras near Burns.

Ammon Bundy claimed that rancher Tim Puckett asked him to take down the fence, but Puckett denied Bundy’s allegation and said that the occupiers are not allowed on his land. A federal statute prohibits the possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in federal facilities, with only limited exceptions for law enforcement. Violation could lead to a fine and a one-year prison sentence, and the use of the weapon in the commission of a crime can extend the sentence to five years.

The cost for the occupiers exceeds $133,400 per day amounting to over $1.8 million for just the first 13 days:

$23,400: Almost 120 refuge BLM and refuge employees now on paid administrative leave with another 50 employees also on paid leave.

$40,000: Lost tourism from a variety of outdoor recreationalists, about 119,000 annual visitors to the refuge who spend about $15 million a year.

$70,000: Security costs and school closures.

Self-described ISIS supporter and new “recruit” David Fry is using government computers to build a website for the occupiers. A big fan of Adolf Hitler, Fry said that “there has to be some point where people have to put their foot down against [government] problems” and he thinks that the insurgents are “pretty good people.” The website liberally uses videos that Fry made of himself playing video games almost a year ago.

The occupiers have decided that they will develop an alternative legal system in the area with their own judge, sheriff, and other elected officials. Partnering with self-proclaimed “Superior Court Judge” Bruce Doucette, they would declare themselves “sovereign citizens” with no mandate to follow any city, county, state, or federal laws. Doucette is a conspiracy theorist who thinks that the 9/11 attacks and the Boston Marathon bombing are government hoaxes and that the earth is flat. The occupiers could then use a “grand jury”—and their guns—to arrest people. Self-proclaimed “sovereign citizens” have a history of extremist violence.

Tensions have been building at the refuge.

Joe “Capt. O” Oshaugnessy left after a drunken argument with participants over bringing their wives and children to the standoff.

Brian “Booda” Cavalier left the compound because news reports revealed he had lied about serving in the military. (Since then, Cavalier has been arrested in Maricopa County, OR on an outstanding warrant.)

Blaine Cooper, sucker-punched one of his former friends, sending the man to the hospital with a concussion and serious facial injuries.

Lewis Arthur, the recipient of the injuries, said he came to remove a “radicalized” and “suicidal” veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has a tendency toward violence when he’s placed under stress. He said that Cooper attacked one of Arthur’s three-man team over an argument about removing women, children, and Ryan Payne, a U.S. Army veteran who had bragged about his sniper teams to target federal agents during the 2014 Bundy ranch standoff. Cooper said that Arthur started the fight.

John Hildinger, arrested on a Maryland firearms charge on his way to the anti-Obama “Operation American Spring” rally in 2013, described Cooper, Payne, and Cavalier as loose cannons.

Jon Ritzheimer had a temper tantrum on video after people sent “a bag of dicks”—Ritzheimer’s description—following the insurgents’ begging for a long list of items including tampons, cigarettes, and snacks.

Many members of the so-called “militia” take advantage of government financial support such as the $530,000 Small Business Administration loan that Ammon Bundy received in 2010. Ritzheimer has only his government disability check and “a wife that works.” Mark Pitcavage, researcher of far-right movements for 22 years and studier of the Harney County occupiers said, “Right-wing extremists, generally speaking, have very little money.” Daryl Johnson, a former DHS domestic terrorism analyst, said that the militants “think nothing” about spending half their money “to buy ammunition and guns.”

Occupier LaVoy Finicum said earlier this week that the group would outline their exit strategy today, but nothing has been said about it since then. They’ve also said that they would leave if the community didn’t want them. It doesn’t, but they’re still there. Residents have repeatedly told the insurgents to leave, including the call for one of the insurgents to stop talking at a community meeting this past week. The audience applauded as law enforcement ushered Pete Santilli, earlier arrested in Ohio for illegally carrying a concealed weapon, out of the building. In 2013, Santilli was investigated after he threatened to shoot Hillary Clinton “in the vagina” and described 15-year-old Ashley Presley, granddaughter of a county judge, as a political “prostitute” after she said she was afraid of the insurgents.

Malheur flockOne protester holding a sign said, “I never thought I’d have to say this, but I’m here to oppose the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge.”

So a bunch of white people, mostly men, have forced a public school of 800 to close down for a week, followed and harassed citizens of a town, illegally accessed government computers to gain personal information about federal employees, destroyed public property, blocked public land from use by U.S. residents, illegally occupied a federal facility and used its utilities, stolen federal vehicles, and broken other laws. They cost taxpayers millions of dollars as well as create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in a formerly sleepy Oregon town. These are members of the Tea Party that want to save money and throw immigrants out of the country because they “break the law.”

The insurgents’ actions are clearly domestic terrorism, but their white skin protects them from death—and possibly future imprisonment. Conservative candidates campaign by raging against ISIL while domestic terrorists—mostly white Christian men—take over the United States.

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