Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ranchers vs. Feds: Armed Showdown Over Seized Lands

Showdown in Burns, Oregon

  Western Ranchers are taking to arms and occupying a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.  The issue stems from the disputes over land and private property rights.

CNN reports:

(CNN) - Armed anti-government protesters have taken over a building in a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, accusing officials of unfairly punishing ranchers who refused to sell their land.One them is Ammon Bundy, the 40-year-old son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who is well-known for anti-government action.
"We will be here as long as it takes. We have no intentions of using force upon anyone, (but) if force is used against us, we would defend ourselves." - Ammon Bundy
  He spoke by phone to CNN on Sunday at 8 a.m. ET. Asked several times what he and those with him want, he answered in vague terms, saying that they want the federal government to restore the "people's constitutional rights."
  "This refuge -- it has been destructive to the people of the county and to the people of the area," he said.
  "People need to be aware that we've become a system where government is actually claiming and using and defending people's rights, and they are doing that against the people."
  The group is inside part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns after gathering outside for a demonstration supporting Dwight and Steven Hammond, father and son ranchers who were convicted of arson.
  Prosecutors said the Hammonds set a fire that burned about 130 acres in 2001, to cover up poaching. The father and son were sentenced to five years in prison.
The Hammonds said they set the fire to reduce the growth of invasive plants and to protect their property from wildfires, CNN affiliate KTVZ reported.
  CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick, a retired U.S. marshal who investigated anti-government militias for years, warned that Bundy's call for supporters to join him might "turn into a bad situation."
  "What's going to happen hopefully (is) ... we don't go out there with a big force, because that's what they're looking for," he said. "The last thing we need is some type of confrontation."
  He said that over the years, law enforcement has learned how to handle a situation like this; one that hasn't erupted in violence and in which a law may be broken, but there's no immediate threat to anyone's life.
  The best approach now, Roderick said, is to wait the group out and to figure out how to bring a peaceful end to the standoff.
Read the full report, at CNN
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