Thursday, January 07, 2016

Insight - Pizza, rifles and tension: a night inside the Oregon protest

The doorknob rattled. Two of the men occupying a federal biologist's office in a stand-off over land rights hopped from their chairs and swung rifles towards the locked door. There was no knock - the established procedure for gaining entry to the nerve centre of the siege mounted by brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy at this eastern Oregon nature centre. The Bundys’ body guard stood in silent alert but heard no voices from the snowy darkness outside. "Should we approach the door or not?" Ryan asked, creeping towards a window. Ammon, armed with only a cell phone, remained seated and shook off the tension, saying dryly, "Oh, it's fun to live this way." Since Saturday, the brothers and a small band of supporters have occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which they seized to protest the U.S. government’s control of vast tracts of Western land. On Tuesday, for the first time, they allowed two reporters to join them inside their refuge for a night marked by long discussions and moments of hair-trigger tension. Earlier, the Bundys had heard from people they trusted that federal law enforcement agents were assembling in Burns, the nearest town, a half hour’s drive away. Federal officials have said they have no plans to approach the refuge...Reuters

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