Nel's New Day

January 26, 2016

A Tale of Two Occupations

 

Insurgents at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are in their fourth week of occupation since a small group of armed white people came to central Oregon with the original intent to get two ranchers, in prison for a variety of charges including arson on public lands, released. Occupiers then transferred to a goal of getting all the public land in Harney County given back to ranchers. To accomplish this end, they are keeping the public from using the refuge and rummaging through 4,000-year-old Native American artifacts. Other illegal acts are tearing down a federally-built fence and surveillance cameras while stealing federal vehicles—wrecking at least one of them.

glenn palmerThe debacle took a bizarre turn last weekend when Glenn Palmer, sheriff of nearby Grant County, said he wants the government “concede” to the occupiers by releasing the ranchers from prison and send the FBI away. That action would be just “a start,” according to Palmer. According to the Oathkeeper’s website, Palmer offered occupier leader Ammon Bundy a sanctuary in Grant County if he would leave the Refuge. Palmer has been very definite about not having spoken to Bundy personally, but he has texted him.

Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe, who has been helping Harney County Sheriff David Ward in Burns, said that Palmer “doesn’t help the cause. If anything, it hampers the effort to end this.” Wolfe, president of the Oregon State Sheriffs Association, said the state’s other sheriffs are concerned with Palmer’s conduct.

Palmer’s discussion with the occupiers started almost two weeks ago when he met in John Day with three insurgents and ten Grant County residents. John Day is 100 miles north of the refuge. After meeting privately with the sheriff, occupier Ryan Payne said, “[Sheriff Palmer] has a practical plan for helping unravel the federal government.” Palmer is a part of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a national nonprofit which interprets the constitution to severely limit federal government powers. Founder Richard Mack urges officials to overthrow county governments one by one to pursue a right-wing agenda.

Logger Tad Houpt, whose complaints about federal land management are promoted by the Koch-backed American Lands Council, has advertised a meeting in Grant County to learn about the Constitution and consider a Committee of Safety. Occupiers used the “committee” in Harney County to first establish credibility and then control the committee. Lead occupiers plan to attend the Grant County meeting. Grant County may provide fertile ground for the dissidents with residents unhappy about the slowness in restoring logging on the Malheur National Forest and plans to close forest service roads.

A community meeting in Burns regarding the occupiers scheduled for Monday, January 24, has been cancelled because of safety concerns. Harney County Judge Steve Grasty stated, “Preparations to protest and block entrance to the Senior Center have led me to determine that it’s time to take a time out.” He added that he “will not give these agitators what they want most, which is attention.”

The occupiers have voted to convene a “common law grand jury” overseen by Tea Party activist and so-called “sovereign citizen” Joaquin Mariano DeMoreta-Folch. Earlier illegal “grand juries” have resulted in government officials being kidnapped and beaten. Jury members have also filed fraudulent liens against officials’ homes and stalked or harassed them for years afterward. Typical indictment from extralegal grand juries is usually treason that carries a death penalty.

The FBI refuses to allow media to tape its “negotiations” with the occupiers, but the insurgents have taped and released them to the public. Insurgents have said they will leave only after investigations into a large number of federal agencies and the complete turnover of public lands throughout the nation to private citizens. Law enforcement have allowed armed infiltrators throughout Harney County, creating danger for all residents. Ryan Payne has voiced the opinion of the occupiers that they have the legal authority to kill police officers who, according to the occupiers, are “unlawfully trying to arrest” them.

The Paiute tribe is requesting that occupiers be blocked from free access to come and go from the refugee. Tribal chair, Charlotte Roderique, also told U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch that the government that it is obligated under its treaty with the Northern Paiutes to inflict punishment for “any crime or injury…perpetrated by any white man upon the Indians.” Roderique is concerned that the insurgents will finance their occupation by selling valuable Indian artifacts, especially if they can continue to mail materials. Videos have shown the occupiers rifling through these artifacts.

Drone hobbyist Mark Cooper made this video of the refugee last Saturday.

Palmer is up for re-election in May, and former Grant County Undersheriff Todd McKinley has filed to run for sheriff. McKinley, director of Grant County Community Corrections, said that he decided to run after witnessing the “audacity of individuals who think they can dictate the course of Grant County, without the input of all.” He pointed out that the oath of office states that he “would support the Constitution and the laws of the United States and of the state of Oregon, and to honestly and faithfully perform the duties imposed upon the member under the laws of Oregon. I do not remember that there were any clauses that told me this was optional, and up to my interpretation of the Constitution and laws.”

The peaceful life of the occupiers of federal property is a huge contrast to another occupation over 40 years ago. While the occupiers can come and go from the refuge whenever they want, shopping at local stores and eating at local restaurants, Leonard Peltier, leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), has been imprisoned since the federal government’s armed raid on Indian land at Wounded Knee in 1973. Peltier was convicted on the word of Myrtle Poor Bear who retracted her statement 16 years ago, explaining that FBI agents had abused her to get the testimony. The FBI admitted that they didn’t know who was responsible for the deaths of two FBI agents, but Peltier is not scheduled to be released from prison until 2040 when he will be 96 years old.

Beatings, deprivation of medical care, inadequate nutrition, and a disregard for his failing health are causing Peltier to die a slow isolated death. A stroke left him almost blind in one eye, he can barely walk because of untreated bone spurs, and an ever-worsening jaw condition from a prison beating causes difficulty in eating. Peltier has had a heart attack, a severely inflamed prostate condition, and diabetes. Early this month he was diagnosed with a serious abdominal aortic aneurism requiring immediate surgery, but nothing has been done about it. White insurgents, several of them at Malheur, have never been charged for pulling guns on federal officials last year on Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada.

Bill Means, veteran of the Vietnam War and the standoff at Wounded Knee, said:

“The Feds didn’t serve us coffee and pizzas. They came heavily armed, ready to do battle, and opened fire before they asked the first question. The laws are recast and enforced in order to suppress any type of minority movement to shift all the power of recognition to the white community. So that when the posse comitatus or bunch of racist ranchers take over a piece of land, they do it in the name of their country, and they become immune to the criminal laws of the United States.”

Means remembered his experience in 1973:

“We were immediately surrounded by over 7 or 8 federal jurisdictions: FBI, U.S. marshals, U.S. Border Patrol, BIA police. I’m missing a few, but you can understand the type of response we get as Indian people.”

Native American activist Morningstar, a member of the Pit River Tribe that shares a boundary with the Paiute, also commented about the people whose land has been “occupied again by armed white people,” this time white ranchers and cattlemen. They claim “sovereignty” over land that has been inhabited by these tribes for thousands of years, calling themselves the “original caretakers of the land.” She is highly concerned about the occupation of the refuge that contains sacred burial grounds of their tribes’ ancient ancestors and extensive personal records about the community and its people.

“The Paiute have 420 members enrolled, half of whom live on and near the reservation. And so they have essentially taken over the bird refuge. The main concern right now is that there are over 4,000 artifacts. There are maps within the BLM offices. These are maps that are not disclosed to the public, and so we’re hearing stories now of the militia members, Bundy’s faction, you know, going through personnel files of the staff members there, many of which include tribal members. They have access to this classified material, and to the 4,000 artifacts.”

Morningstar also mourned the damage from driving large herds of cattle over sacred Indian land:

“[The occupiers] are contaminating our springs, our waterways, our creeks. They’re inside the rivers and stream ways. We’re having to do a lot of restoration work along the creek ways because we have cattle that are just pushing the soil and dirt into the water.”

Whenever unarmed black people are killed, conservatives are fond of saying, “If you don’t comply, you die.” They become enraged when President Obama trades prisoners with Iran. Yet the current conservative position is that the lawbreakers at the refuge should be given everything they want.

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.

January 4, 2016

Oregon Insurrectionists Live off Government

Overthrowing the U.S. government can be expensive. That’s why Daniel Brewer needs his federal disability check to join the attempted government overthrow on the Malheur Wildlife National Refuge in Harney County (OR). On a posting for people to come help the “militia,” Brewer commented:

“$300 it’s a shame. The Federal Government can’t get my disability straight. $300 I and my Sons could be there. Shoulder to shoulder. My heart tells me to get there. I simply can’t find the gas money. I’m so sorry. I know I can make a difference. My prayers, are with you. I feel so bad its $ keeps me from doing what my heart tells me is right. If they want blood, make sure it’s theirs my brothers and Sisters. Damn. Please lord find me a way to help these people…. Amen.”

Brewer’s position is similar to that of the woman who wrote President Obama: “I don’t want government-run health care. I don’t want socialized medicine. And don’t touch my Medicare.”

Maybe Ammon Bundy could send some of his government money to Brewer. Although Bundy’s father, Cliven, refuses to pay the $1 million in grazing fees owed to the federal government, it loaned Ammon Bundy $530,000 to start Valet Fleet which services semitrucks throughout Arizona. There is no public record about how the money was spent or whether it was repaid.

The people who who took over a federal building now need snacks, according to anti-government terrorist Blaine Cooper. Ammon Bundy had said that they had planned for months; evidently the plan didn’t include packing “snacks.” Cooper’s desperate message stated:

“We do not stand for fame or fortune….We don’t want your money. If you have supplies or snacks … please send them to the address above…. The last sentence in the Declaration of Independence reads: And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Who knew that meant snacks! And sent through U.S. mail—paid for by the U.S. government. The occupiers also want a government handout, free land. They have support from conservative lawmakers in at least nine western states who want to take over federal lands in order to make a profit off them—possibly even selling the lands to private owners.

Ranchers grazing cattle on public land are getting a much better deal by paying the federal government instead of private owners. BLM fees for grazing are 93 percent than on private land and become cheaper as the years go on. In 2012, annual fees were $1.35 for supporting a cow and her calf for a month. In 2014, grazing fees covered only 15 percent of the bureau’s costs to maintain the lands.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, home to 320 bird species, is a “tool of tyranny,” according to Ammon Bundy. Actually, it’s a major tourist attraction and staple of local economy, drawing visitors from all over the world. Bundy wants to give the land, which President Ulysses S. Grant, gave to the Paiutes, “back to the people,” but the people had access to it until Bundy and his tribe moved in. Children in Harney County can’t even go to school now because of Ammon Bundy. The group, now know known as Ya’llQueda are illegally occupying federal land for what they see as their constitution rights to burn public lands, use taxpayer money to freely graze cattle, and ride their ATVs to destroy archaeological sites.

The occupiers started by claiming that they are protesting the Hammonds’ being sent back to prison. The two men flew down to southern California before turning themselves in at the Terminal Island federal correctional facility in San Pedro. The lawbreakers no longer have an excuse to be in central Oregon illegally living in a federal building.

One anti-federal extremist, “Captain Moroni,” claims that the Mormon religion inspired the insurrection. In that religion, Moroni organized weapons, strategy, and tactics to allow Nephites to worship and govern as they wished. Like Christians, Mormon protesters claim that Jesus inspired the U.S. Constitution, making the document scripture. The man calling himself Captain Moroni said he was inspired by a call to come to Oregon: “I’m willing to die here.”

These so-called “conservatives” are opposing a century of GOP-led commitment to conservation and the protection of wildlife initiated by GOP President Theodore Roosevelt, who established the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 1908. It is “one of the crown jewels of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” according to the Audubon Society of Portland, “and belongs to all Americans.” Bob Sallinger said:

“The occupation of Malheur by armed, out of state militia groups puts one of America’s most important wildlife refuges at risk. It violates the most basic principles of the Public Trust Doctrine and holds hostage public lands and public resources to serve the very narrow political agenda of the occupiers. The occupiers have used the flimsiest of pretexts to justify their actions—the conviction of two local ranchers in a case involving arson and poaching on public lands. Notably, neither the local community nor the individuals convicted have requested or endorsed the occupation or the assistance of militia groups.”

The news repeatedly states that the event in Burns (OR) is an “occupation” following “a peaceful protest” and “an expression of anti-government sentiment.” An examination of the situation, however, shows that it is a gang of people with guns who declare themselves outside the law and plan to overthrow the government.

One state legislator who supports Bundy and his people is GOP lawmaker Any Holt in Tennessee who doesn’t see the problem with the “militia” despite Article III of the Constitution:

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

And U.S.C.S 2383 follows up:

“Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

Instead of pursuing the illegality of the “militia’s” actions, the media follows the event with a certain level of bemusement. talks to whites occupying a federal building in Oregon about how they cook, find bunks, etc. In contrast, black protesters–labeled by Fox as “terrorists,” “Nazis,” “sub-human,” a “hate group,” “extremists,” “thugs,” “rioters,” and “grave threats” to the police–are killed.

  • Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was murdered with impunity within two seconds after a police officer saw him with a toy gun.
  • Laquan McDonald was killed with 16 shots in one-fourth of a minute as he walked away from police officers.
  • In 1985, heavily armed members of MOVE in Philadelphia were surrounded by police answering a noise complaint and bombed by a military helicopter. The fire destroyed several blocks and killed 11 people, including five children.
  • When armed supporters of the American Indian Movement occupied the town of Wounded Knee (SD) in 1973, police, military, and FBI created a war zone on the reservation and killed two AIM members. They just wanted the federal government to honor their treaties by granting Indians greater control of their own lands.
  • Gun control in the 1960s came after armed Black Panthers peacefully marched on the California capitol in Sacramento.

Law enforcement analyst and retired U.S. marshal Art Roderick drew a comparison between heavily armed whites and unarmed blacks. As black people pose no violent threat in their neighborhood, law enforcement pulls out military gear to force protesters to disperse. Faced with heavily-armed white “militias,” law enforcement works on a peaceful resolution.

Many of the people now in Oregon pulled guns on law enforcement in Nevada with a declaration to seize land nationwide but faced no criminal charges for sedition. That experience allows them to believe, perhaps correctly, that they will not face any prosecution for their treasonous actions. Meanwhile, they try to overthrow the government that provides them with their livelihood.

Late this afternoon, Ammon Bundy said that the insurrectionists will leave the community if it asks them to. Maybe they’re running out of food—and snacks. If they leave, they’re sure to pop up somewhere else to create more havoc and get more publicity.

January 3, 2016

Media Coddles White Lawbreakers in Oregon

Two central Oregon ranchers, father and son, were convicted of arson on public land in 2012 in an attempt to cover up an illegal deer slaughter on federal land in 2001. U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan Dwight ruled that Hammond, 73, spend three months in prison, and his son, 46-year-old Stephen, be incarcerated for a year. Under Amanda Marshall, then U.S. attorney for Oregon, a successful government appeal under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 changed the minimum sentence to five years, and the Hammonds are due to report back to prison tomorrow. At the trial, witnesses, including a relative of Hammonds, had testified that Steven Hammond handed out “Strike Anywhere” matches with instructions that they be lit and dropped on the ground because they were going to “light up the whole country on fire.” The government spent $600,000 fighting the fires.

watch towerEnter heavily armed gun-toting men this past November, including at three sons of Cliven Bundy, who had gathered around the Nevada rancher and aimed their guns at federal officials last year because they thought that Bundy shouldn’t have to pay his debt to the U.S. government for grazing his cattle on public land. After parading around the small town of Burns, they took over the federal building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, created 30 miles southeast of Burns by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 from unclaimed government lands. The occupiers declare that they will occupy the facility for “years” and are calling on “patriots” to join them and bring their guns. [Refuge watch tower above]

The men’t goal is not to protect the Hammonds but force the federal government to give the land to local ranchers, miners, and loggers. The land in question was once part of a Northern Paiute reservation established by President Ulysses S. Grant, but whites used violence to force the Paiutes off the reservation in the late 19th century.

ammon bundyClosed for the holiday weekend, the building is now being monitored by federal officials, and Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward warned people to avoid the area. The Bundys claimed that about 150 people were in the building, but witnesses report between 12 and 15 are there. Ammon Bundy (right) said, “We are not hurting anybody or damaging any property. We would expect that they understand that we have given them no reason to use lethal force upon us or any other force.” Cliven Bundy said, “If the Hammonds wouldn’t stand …, the people had to do something.”

Several GOP presidential candidates support the Bundys’ actions. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) calls for private ownership of federal land, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) agrees with Paul and blames President Obama for his “assault” on “liberty.” Ben Carson calls the Bundy group “pretty outstanding people” before he rambles on into “freedom.” Donald Trump said, “I like him, I like his spirit, his spunk and the people that are so loyal…I respect him.” Mike Huckabee is another strong Bundy supporter.

The Hammonds are willing to go back to prison,  and many Burns’ residents, who have posted signs with “Militia go home,” are unhappy with the out-of-towners wandering the town while openly carrying guns. Rancher Melodi Molp said that the Bundys “are way more aggressive than what we want to do,” and Candy Tiller said, “I’m worried that there’s a trigger-happy idiot out there.”  She added, “This is crazy. This does not fit. These people need to go away.” Chris Briels, Burns fire chief for 24 years, said that the militia “seems like a bunch of people ready to shoot.  I don’t want that in my county.” Rancher Gary Marshall wants the Bundys to let the community “think and decide for ourselves” and said that 50 percent of the employed people in the county of about 7,000 people work for the government. “A lot of the people who work at the BLM are of families of the community,” said Marshall. “It’s not in any way a ‘them against us’ kind of a scenario here.”

Federal employees report they have been followed around town and to their homes. Three men, one of them with a gun strapped to his hip, and a woman went up to the county sheriff’s parents at an American Legion yard sale. When they criticized the sheriff, his 74-year-old mother, accompanied by the sheriff’s 78-year-old father, said that she didn’t need their protection from the government. Later the men went to the sheriff to say that she had threatened them.

After Sheriff Ward told “militia” organizers that he would not give sanctuary to the Hammonds, he received death threats from people in other states who called him an “enemy of the people.” He said, “What we’ve been threatened with here is civil unrest and the insinuations of armed rebellion.” According to Ward, the groups has come to town under false pretenses: instead of supporting local ranchers, they want to overthrow the government.

Mainstream media expresses little concern about a group of armed men taking over a federal building, depicting the event as a “peaceful protest.” Fox’s early report overlooked the danger of men in camo outfits with long guns who are frightening Harney County’s residents. Ryan Bundy tweeted that the self-appointed “militia” are “willing to kill and be killed if necessary.” Ammon Bundy said, “We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely. This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.” One member of the group, Jon Ritzheimer, posted a goodbye video to his family on YouTube today and said “I want to die a free man.” For safety purposes, Harney County schools will be closed this week.

ABC didn’t bother to investigate the explosive situation: the network merely copied Fox news with the headline, “Peaceful Protest Followed by Oregon Wildlife Refuge Action.” NBC’s headline calls the armed men “Rancher’s Rights Protesters.”

The state’s largest newspaper, The Oregonian, used its conservative bent to whitewash past events concerning the Hammonds although a few facts can be cleaned from this article.

  • In 1994, Dwight Hammond was arrested, but not prosecuted, in his dispute regarding water access with the refuge managers when he tried to stop a fence to keep out his cattle.
  • In 1999, Steven Hammond fired shots at hunters on federal land but claimed he was shooting at rabbits. He objected to “authorized commercial hunting of wildlife that temporarily wandered onto barren public land from private land lush with forage” but was convicted of interfering with use of public land.
  • In 2001 the Hammonds claimed that they lit the 2001 fire to take out invasive juniper and didn’t see any reason to put the fire out when it reached public land. They were convicted of arson because of poaching.
  • In 2006, the Hammonds list another fire to keep a lightning-caused fire from burning only the Hammonds’ ranch in spite of a countywide burn ban and endangering firefighters camped nearby.
  • In 2007, the Hammonds were investigated for child abuse. Stephen Hammond, upset because a 16-year-old boy living with them carved initials in his chest with a paperclip, used coarse sand paper to sand them off. Hammond’s mother, Susan told the teen to clean up and “not to have a pity party.” Her husband, Dwight, said it was “decided by the family” to sand off the initials.

According to a new poll, conservative whites are angrier than the rest of the population in the United States because they feel more oppressed than any other group, often from their feelings about having a black president. Three-fourths of Republicans get angry every day about current events, and at least one-third of white people—over three-fourths of the people in the United States—own guns. Exploited by conservative politicians and media, these expressions of fear become increasingly toxic, resulting in the acquisition of increasing gun ownership by people who plan to take over the government. Combining this anger with guns results in increased gun violence.

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd did his usual avoidance of conservative views regarding the latest “militia” standoff. He didn’t asked interview guest Paul anything about the situation, and he nodded sagely while hard-right panelists Washington Post columnists Jennifer Rubin and Sara Fagen, the latter a former political director for George W. Bush’s administration, blamed a weak president and bad foreign policy for all the anger.

Tonight, CBS Evening News segment showed a benign view of the ranchers who determined that they could take public land by force through arson and other acts of violence, one man who abused a teenager, and a group of heavily armed men who charmingly said that they meant no harm as long as the law gave them whatever they wanted. The “militia” wants publicity, and they’re getting plenty of it, much of it positive  Angry armed white men are determined to overthrow the government, undermine the courts, and receive positive media attention for their actions, and the media media is obliging them–because they are white.

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: