Thursday, January 07, 2016

Whose land is it, anyway? Critics, supporters of armed Oregon occupiers agree protest must end

Aligning the varying factions of the wider community touched by this development is difficult. For instance, the armed protesters led by Ammon Bundy – the son of anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy – are demanding the federal government relinquish its claim to about three-quarters of the land in the county, then “return” it to the local residents. The trouble is, the feds never stole it from the locals living there now, so much as they did from the indigenous people there nearly two centuries ago. "The protesters have no right to this land. It belongs to the native people who live here," Charlotte Rodrique, chair of the Paiute tribe in Burns, told reporters earlier on Wednesday in front of the tribe’s cultural center. Sharper words have also appeared on social media and in traditional media, sparking debate about whether to call the armed occupiers “terrorists” or not. One retired police chief with decades of experience in training SWAT teams urges the latter. "If we demonize them, if we make them domestic terrorists, then the political ability to deal with them harshly increases," Steve Ijames said in an NPR interview. The Associated Press has gone from describing the protesters as a “militia” to “armed men” or “armed ranchers,” saying the word “militia” confuses its international audience. Two leaders of national groups favorable to the principle of militias are working to prevent an escalation. Upon allegedly receiving a tip that US military special operators were assigned to the area, Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, released an urgent message to those occupying the federal facility, including in his headline: “Keep Women and Children Out of There.” “If a dozen men die in a shootout, that is one thing, but if children die, there will be a civil war,” Rhodes wrote on the Oath Keepers website. He added a statement of disapproval, saying the armed occupation “is not in keeping with the moral imperative of only using the threat of force in defense when people’s lives are at stake, as at Bundy Ranch in 2014.”...more

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