Monday, January 04, 2016

Oregon Militia News

In Oregon a group of militiamen "peacefully" occupied a federal building at a national wildlife refuge. It has been very strange to see the way in which the media is covering the incident, or not covering it. The possessive investment of whiteness is in clear display today, as media which finds a seemingly endless number of ways to degrade or denigrate people of color protests or social movements, is suddenly being very controlled and very forgiving with their language. Check out the articles below to read more. 

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A Militia Has Taken Over a Federal Building in Oregon
Associated Press
1/2/16

BURNS, Ore. (AP) — A peaceful protest Saturday in support of an eastern Oregon ranching family facing jail time for arson was followed shortly afterward by an occupation of a building at a national wildlife refuge.

Ammon Bundy, the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a standoff with the government over grazing rights, told The Oregonian he and two of his brothers were among a group of dozens of people occupying the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Bundy posted a video on his Facebook page asking for people to come help him. Below the video is this statement: "**ALL PATRIOTS ITS TIME TO STAND UP NOT STAND DOWN!!! WE NEED YOUR HELP!!! COME PREPARED."

Ammon Bundy said the group planned to stay at the refuge indefinitely.
"We're planning on staying here for years, absolutely," Ammon Bundy said. "This is not a decision we've made at the last minute."

An Idaho militia leader who helped organize the earlier march said he knew nothing about activities after a parade of militia members and local residents in Burns walked past the sheriff's office and the home of Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven.

Beth Anne Steele, an FBI spokeswoman in Portland, told The Associated Press the agency was aware of the situation at the national wildlife refuge. She made no further comment.

Some local residents feared the Saturday rally would involve more than speeches, flags and marching. But the only real additions to that list seemed to be songs, flowers and pennies.

As marchers reached the courthouse, they tossed hundreds of pennies at the locked door. Their message: civilians were buying back their government. After the march passed, two girls swooped in to scavenge the pennies.

A few blocks away, Hammond and his wife Susan greeted marchers, who planted flower bouquets in the snow. They sang some songs, Hammond said a few words, and the protesters marched back to their cars.

Dwight Hammond has said he and his son plan to peacefully report to prison Jan. 4 as ordered by the judge.

Dwight Hammond, 73, and Steven Hammond, 46, said they lit the fires in 2001 and 2006 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their property from wildfires.

The two were convicted of the arsons three years ago and served time — the father three months, the son one year. But a judge ruled their terms were too short under federal law and ordered them back to prison for about four years each.

The decision has generated controversy in a remote part of the state.

In particular, the Hammonds' new sentences touched a nerve with far right groups who repudiate federal authority.

Ammon Bundy and a handful of militiamen from other states arrived last month in Burns, some 60 miles from the Hammond ranch.

In an email to supporters, Ammon Bundy criticized the U.S. government for a failed legal process.


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Published on
by

Media Coverage of Oregon Militia Standoff Raises Eyebrows — and Ire

Despite the extreme nature of the demonstration, both media and law enforcement response appears muted, especially in comparison to other recent protests
After members of a rightwing militia—many armed with assault rifles—seized the headquarters of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon on Saturday afternoon, observers questioned the corporate media's treatment of the event, pointing to a double standard in coverage compared to other recent protests.
The Oregonian reported Saturday that Ammon Bundy, the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was the leader of a notorious standoff over cattle grazing rights last year, had "joined with hard-core militiamen Saturday to take over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, vowing to occupy the remote federal outpost 30 miles southeast of Burns for years."
The occupation—protesting the prosecution of two Oregon ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, who are to report to prison on Monday for arson—followed a march through the town of Burns.

According to The Oregonian:
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 tried to remove them, they said.
"The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds," Ammon Bundy said.
But despite the extreme nature of the demonstration, both media and law enforcement response appears muted, according to critics on social media and beyond.




This isn't the first time the Bundys have seemingly benefited from such a double standard.
In November 2015, watchdog site Media Matters pointed out that while Fox's coverage of campus protests against racial discrimination was—at best—dismissive, its reporting "looked drastically different when those protesting have aligned with the network's conservative agenda."
Media Matters' Olivia Kittel wrote:
Recall when Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy faced off with the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over his refusal to pay grazing fees for his cattle's use of public lands in April 2014; he threatened violence and incited protests -- which included armed militia supporters -- to resist BLM efforts to collect on his debt. Fox News rocketed Bundy to conservative folk-hero status, lauding the rancher with the network's support even as numerous media reports described Bundy supporters pointing guns at federal law enforcement. BLM was even forced to suspend its operations when protesters -- some of them armed -- marched toward where BLM had impounded Bundy's cattle. Fox personalities praised Bundy supporters as "good, hardworking Americans," "law-abiding American citizens," and "patriotic Americans," and one Fox host, Clayton Morris, sanitized the interactions between Bundy supporters and law enforcement, claiming, "Suddenly people are there protesting peacefully, arguing against government intervention here ... and all of these police and folks roll in with guns and sniper rifles pointing at them."
Critics highlighted the hypocrisy on Twitter with the hashtag #OregonUnderAttack:

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 Militia takes over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters
by Les Zaitz
The Oregonian
http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2016/01/drama_in_burns_ends_with_quiet.html#incart_big-photo
1/2/16

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 30 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 100 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 tried to remove them, they said.
"The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds," Ammon Bundy said.
"We're planning on staying here for years, absolutely," he added. "This is not a decision we've made at the last minute."
Neither man would say how many people are in the building or whether they are armed. Ryan Bundy said there were no hostages, but the group is demanding that the Hammonds be released and the federal government relinquish control of the Malheur National Forest.

He said many would be willing to fight — and die, if necessary — to defend what they see as constitutionally protected rights for states, counties and individuals to manage local lands.
"The best possible outcome is that the ranchers that have been kicked out of the area, then they will come back and reclaim their land, and the wildlife refuge will be shut down forever and the federal government will relinquish such control," he said. "What we're doing is not rebellious. What we're doing is in accordance with the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land."
Government sources told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the militia also was planning to occupy a closed wildland fire station near the town of Frenchglen. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management posts crews there during the fire season.
Law enforcement officials so far have not commented on the situation. Oregon State Police, the Harney County Sheriff's Office and the FBI were involved.
Ammon Bundy posted a video on his Facebook page calling on patriots from across the country to report to the refuge – with their weapons.

The dramatic turn came after other militia groups had tried to dampen community concerns they meant trouble.
Brandon Curtiss, a militia leader from Idaho, told The Oregonian/OregonLive he knew nothing about the occupation. He helped organize Saturday's protest and was at the Harney County Fairgrounds with dozens of other militia for a post-parade function. Another militia leader, BJ Soper, took to Facebook to denounce the occupation.
The occupation is being led by hard-core militia who adopted the Hammond cause as their own.
Ammon Bundy met with Dwight Hammond and his wife in November, seeking a way to keep the elderly rancher from having to surrender for prison. The Hammonds professed through their attorneys that they had no interest in ignoring the order to report for prison.
Ammon Bundy said the goal is to turn over federal land to local ranchers, loggers and miners. He said he met with 10 or so residents in Burns on Friday to try to recruit them, but they declined.

We went to the local communities and presented it many times and to many different people," he said. "They were not strong enough to make the stand. So many individuals across the United States and in Oregon are making this stand. We hope they will grab onto this and realize that it's been happening." 
Among those joining Bundy in the occupation are Ryan Payne,  U.S. Army veteran, and Blaine Cooper. Payne has claimed to have helped organize militia snipers to target federal agents in a standoff last year in Nevada. He told one news organization the federal agents would have been killed had they made the wrong move.
He has been a steady presence in Burns in recent weeks, questioning people who were critical of the militia's presence. He typically had a holstered sidearm as he moved around the community.
At a community meeting in Burns Friday, Payne disavowed any ill intent.
"The agenda is to uphold the Constitution. That's all," he said.
Cooper, another militia leader, said at that meeting he participated in the Bundy standoff in Nevada.
"I went there to defend Cliven with my life," Cooper said.
Ian K. Kullgren of The Oregonian/OregonLive contributed to this report. 
-- Les Zaitz

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