ARMED MILITIA TAKES OVER FEDERAL BUILDING After Oregon Ranchers Sentenced to Prison for Starting Preventative Fires

In October the Obama administration sentenced two Oregon farmers to five years in federal prison for starting a preventative fire on their land.

The fire spread to federal land and burned less than 140 acres.
dwight steve hammond
Steven Hammond (on left) and his father Dwight Hammond were sentenced to federal prison for five years. (Capital Press)

The government charged the ranchers as “terrorists.”
The Oregon Farm Bureau reported:

Today two Oregon ranchers were sentenced to five years in federal prison under terrorism statutes for setting preventative fires on their own land. We are gravely disappointed at this outcome.

Elderly Harney County rancher Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven, a former OFB Board member and Harney County Farm Bureau president, have already served time in federal prison for their mistakes and paid their debt to society for the less-than-140 acres of BLM land that was accidentally impacted by the fires.

This is an example of gross government overreach, and the public should be outraged.

Today’s verdict is also hypocritical given BLM’s own harm to public and private grazing lands, which goes without consequence. It is unjust. OFB worked on this case quietly behind the scenes with BLM through the spring and summer. That diligent diplomatic effort was fruitless.

This prosecution will have a chilling effect across the West among ranchers, foresters, and others who rely on federal allotments and permits. It will harm the positive relationship many ranchers and organizations have worked to forge with the BLM, and undermine the cooperative spirit most ranchers have brought to the bureau in helping the health of the range.

Ranchers Dwight Jr. and Steven Hammond are to report to prison on Monday.

On Saturday 300 supporters protested in Burns, Oregon against the prosecution of the Harney County ranchers.
burns march protest
A parade of militia members and Harney County residents marches up Court Avenue to show their support for the Hammond ranching family. Two family members report to prison Monday. (Oregonian)

Then after the march 150 militiamen took over the Malheur National Wildlife Headquarters in Oregon to protest the prosecution of the two ranchers.
Oregon Live reported:

Update at 9:15 p.m.: Statement from Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward: “After the peaceful rally was completed today, a group of outside militants drove to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, where they seized and occupied the refuge headquarters. A collective effort from multiple agencies is currently working on a solution. For the time being please stay away from that area. More information will be provided as it becomes available. Please maintain a peaceful and united front and allow us to work through this situation.”

The Bundy family of Nevada joined with hard-core militiamen Saturday to take over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, vowing to occupy the remote federal outpost 50 miles southeast of Burns for years.

The occupation came shortly after an estimated 300 marchers – militia and local citizens both – paraded through Burns to protest the prosecution of two Harney County ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, who are to report to prison on Monday.

Among the occupiers is Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and two of his brothers. Militia members at the refuge claimed they had as many as 150 supporters with them. The refuge, federal property managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was closed and unoccupied for the holiday weekend.

In phone interviews from inside the occupied building Saturday night, Ammon Bundy and his brother, Ryan Bundy, said they are not looking to hurt anyone. But they would not rule out violence if police try to remove them, they said, though they declined to elaborate.

Let’s pray this ends peacefully.

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