Anti-government protestors armed with guns have taken over a federal building in an Oregon wildlife refuge, because they say federal officials have unfairly punished ranchers.
The Oregonian reports an estimated 300 people marched through the town of Burns, Oregon to protest the impending imprisonment of two area ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond. According to the L.A. Times, the Hammonds (a father and son pair) were convicted of arson for fires they set in 2001 and 2006, which they said were to reduce the growth of invasive plants and protect their land from wildfires.
But the protestors, including Ammon Bundy (the son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who staged an armed standoff against the Bureau of Land Management in 2014) say that the ranchers land rights are being stomped on by #biggovernment.
Following Saturday's march, a smaller group headed to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters about 60 miles away, which they then took over. Militia members claimed there were about 100 of them occupying the refuge.
Ammon Bundy, the group's
outspoken whackjob unofficial fearless leader told CNN that the wildlife refuge, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "has been destructive to the people of the county and to the people of the area."
"The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds," Bundy told the Oregonian. "We're planning on staying here for years, absolutely. This is not a decision we've made at the last minute."
Bundy had a lot of choice words, which you can watch for yourself in this video he posted to his Facebook page:
A statement from the Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward warned people to stay away from the refuge:
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.
"We're not used to this kind of thing here," Burns resident Kainan Jordan told KTVZ. "It's sort of frightening when there are people making threats and people toting guns."
And here's a couple tweets chronicling
domestic terrorism in action what's been hashtagged on Twitter as the "#BundyMilitia":