Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Oregon standoff venue changes to Grant County, where counter-protesters await

The armed group holding the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge may find a positive reception from some Grant County officials and residents when occupiers travel to John Day today and hold a meeting. But they'll also have to contend with counter-protesters who feel the militants should stay away. The meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. at the John Day Senior Center, would officially mark the public spread of the occupiers' cause beyond Harney County, where they have held the bird sanctuary since Jan. 2 in protest of the federal government's land-use policies and the imprisonment of two local ranchers. Glenn Palmer, the Grant County sheriff, has met with the militants and endorsed two of their key demands: the dismissal of the FBI from Harney County and the release of Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven Hammond, from prison. The Hammonds were convicted of arson for starting fires that spread to public land. Palmer often speaks critically of the federal government and is aligned with the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a national nonprofit that interprets the Constitution to severely limit federal government powers. He has clashed with the U.S. Forest Service over that agency's management of public land in Grant County...more

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