Monday, January 04, 2016

The mysterious fires that led to the Bundy clan’s Oregon standoff

It was a stark reversal of a scenario that Billy Joel outlined years ago: They did start the fire. But, beyond that fact, consensus on why the Hammond family of Harney County, Ore., set ranch land ablaze twice in the past 15 years remained elusive. This, as armed anti-government activists stormed and seized a federal wildlife refuge in the name of the Hammonds. Never, it seemed, have two groups of people looked at the same conflagration and come to such different conclusions. According to Ammon Bundy — leader of anti-government protesters now occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, about 30 miles southeast of Burns, Ore. — the Hammonds are victims of the long arm of the federal government, gentleman ranchers punished for raising cattle on their own land. In other words, they are American heroes. “The Hammond family has been battered and abused by the federal government for over a decade,” Bundy wrote in an email in November, according to BuzzFeed reporter Jim Dalrymple II. “Now they have been declared as ‘terrorist’ and sentenced to 5 years in prison. For what? … using their ranch.” The federal government, of course, told quite a different tale of the fires that led to Bundy’s action. It declared — and, in 2012, a jury agreed — that Dwight Lincoln Hammond Jr., 73, and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, 46, are arsonists, criminals now on their way to federal prison to serve five years for an elaborate scheme to cover up wrongdoing that put lives in danger...Washington Post

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