Saturday, December 31, 2016

Oregon occupation a year later

By Maxine Bernstein | The Oregonian/OregonLive 

A knock on the front door awakened Susie Hammond at the break of dawn. She struggled out of bed, hobbled by an aching right hip, and limped to the front of her small house in downtown BuQrns. Whoever it was, she thought, must be someone she knew because of the early hour. As she neared the door, all she could see was a large shadowy figure blocking the light that usually streamed through its glass panes. She unlocked the bolt and opened the door to find two men standing on the stoop. "Susan?'' one of them said. "My name is Ammon Bundy.'' So began Hammond's passage from 75-year-old matriarch of an eastern Oregon ranching clan to reluctant symbol of the rural West's revolt against federal ownership of vast resource-rich rangeland. The Hammond name became a mantra for Bundy as he moved into Oregon and seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last winter in a 41-day takeover that captivated the nation with its cowboy ringleaders, armed followers and impassioned protest message. Bundy often invoked the story of Hammond's husband, Dwight Jr., and their youngest son Steven, convicted of setting fires on public lands and ordered back to prison to serve out five-year sentences. He saw their prosecution as the perfect example of federal authority run amok. Susie Hammond wasn't equally enamored of Ammon Bundy. Her family didn't invite his attention and didn't want it, she said in her first extensive interview since Bundy launched the surprise occupation on Jan. 2 -- about two months after he first appeared at the Hammonds' front door. She worked to keep her distance, shunning Bundy's requests that her family publicly stand with him as throngs of militants descended on Harney County and set neighbor against neighbor in a fierce debate over control of public land -- all under the eye of FBI agents who set up a command center at the tiny Burns Municipal Airport. The Hammonds had their own troubles to handle without picking a fight with the very people who controlled their future, she said. Yet over the past year, Susie Hammond has changed. She's come to appreciate Bundy's stand and populist politicking, if not his push to draw her family into his cause. She recognizes that his family's fight over cattle grazing rights in Nevada has parallels to her own family's conflict. She's tracked Bundy's arrest, trial and acquittal from afar...more

 A lengthy but interesting article which can be read in its entirety here.

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