Thursday, January 14, 2016

Eastern Oregon officials worried protest could migrate, occupiers visit neighboring sheriff

By Sean Hart

Members of the armed group occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge traveled to John Day Tuesday to ask the Grant County sheriff to join their cause.

He declined, but county commissioners throughout Eastern Oregon have discussed the possibility that the protest could “migrate” elsewhere in the region.

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer said three members of the militia asked him to travel to Harney County, but he refused to do so without the approval of the Harney County sheriff. Palmer would not say whether he agreed with the occupation, but described those participating as “patriots.”

“I think it’s brought some things to light that might not have otherwise got the attention that they did,” he said of the occupation. “I do believe that the resolution and solution to the way this is going to be handled, if it’s handled properly, could have a long-lasting effect on our county as well.”

Palmer said any positive outcome, however, would require the government to make some concessions.
“I believe the government is going to have to concede to something,” he said. “I don’t think these guys are going to give up without knowing that they’ve done something that benefits the people of our country or our region.”

...Palmer said he has spoken to Harney County Sheriff David Ward and told him he would not interfere without permission. Palmer said he has “a pretty good working relationship” with the sheriff from the neighboring county.

Palmer said, however, that he was not willing to excoriate the occupation either.

“About the only thing (Ward) really told me is I’m welcome to come down there if I would shame and humiliate them into giving up and I said, ‘No, I won’t do that,”’ Palmer said. “I’m not in the business of denouncing or shaming or humiliating anybody.”


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