Authorities Predict What’s Next with Oregon Militia

Authorities Predict What's Next with Oregon Militia

What started over the New Year weekend as a rally supporting two local ranchers led to a broader anti-government protest and now the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building near Burns, Oregon. Two days after taking over the federal building, the armed protesters in are refusing to budge until they get what they want.

The problem is they haven’t said exactly what they want.

Spokesperson for the group Ammon Bundy told CNN that they would occupy the building for as long as it takes, and have no intention of using force upon anyone. He did, however, state that if force was used against them, they would defend themselves.

Bundy said he, and many others, are standing up to the federal government over land rights. Bundy believes that officials are unfairly punishing Dwight and Steven Hammond (father and son ranchers) of arson. The Hammonds have said they started a fire in 2001 to reduce the growth of invasive plants and to protect their property from wildfires, but that fire got out of hand.

The father and son are scheduled to turn themselves in Monday, January 4 to serve their sentences.

As of early Monday morning, there was no police presence at the building, but the FBI said it will be taking the lead on the investigation, working closely with the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and other local law enforcement.

“Due to safety considerations for both those inside the refuge as well as the law enforcement officers involved, we will not be releasing any specifics with regards to the law enforcement response.”  The agency’s Portland office said in a statement.

Bundy has since called for supporters to join him and most authorities are concerned this may turn into a bad situation.

Art Roderick, a retired U.S. marshal who has investigated anti-government militias believes that law enforcement will not show excessive force when dealing with this group of protestors because it is the exact thing that they are looking out for. 

“The last thing we need is some type of confrontation,” he said.

Law enforcement has learned how to handle these types of situations in which a law may have been broken but there hasn't been any eruption of violence and no threats to lives yet. The best approach now, Roderick said, is to wait the group out and try to figure out how to bring a peaceful resolution.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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