Sunday, January 03, 2016
Militia Occupying Federal Land: 'We Are Not Hurting Anybody'
Most of the protesters who came to Burns did not participate in the armed occupation, and many expressed concern that it would undercut their movement’s credibility. The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, occupied by the Bundys and their supporters, lies roughly a half-hour south of Burns. It was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and is a popular place for birdwatching in the spring. The occupiers draped an American flag over the welcome sign outside the refuge headquarters, and a pick-up blocked the road. As the sun set Saturday, the temperature fell to 10 degrees. A group of five men bundled in coats and scarves fed sagebrush branches into a campfire. Only Ammon spoke to the media, but a few of the men quietly identified themselves as longtime residents of the Burns area and supporters of the Hammonds. Asked how many militia members were at the headquarters, Bundy demurred. “I will not disclose,” he said. “Operational security.” He also did not confirm a report that militia members have occupied a BLM fire station near Frenchglen, Oregon. Bundy said the men hadn’t come into any contact with law enforcement while taking over the refuge headquarters, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether the men had entered the building or were just stationed outside it. There was no sign of law enforcement near the entrance to the refuge, though an Oregon State Police patrol car idled by the side of the road just outside Burns. “We are not hurting anybody or damaging any property. We would expect that they understand that we have given them no reason to use lethal force upon us or any other force,” Bundy said...more