According to local officials, armed militia members attempting to overthrow the government remain in control of an Oregon Wildlife Refuge. The group is insisting they are using their constitutional rights to stop the government from taking land away from taxpayers, but law enforcement sees their actions differently.
In their opinion, the group’s actions are nothing short of sedition. The aggressive action is reported to have been taken as a protest to the prosecution of two local ranchers. The group is also intent on taking back land they feel has been unfairly seized and managed by the federal government. Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward believes the group has ulterior motives.
“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers, when in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”
The uninhabited building the militia has been occupying since Saturday at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is currently being monitored by officials from multiple agencies. The occupiers have denied doing anything illegal. Despite this, the Refuge is currently closed, likely due to statements issued from the militia that they are armed and will return fire, if fired upon.
The group is believed to be acting under the control of Ammon Bundy, the son of Cliven Bundy, a cattle rancher from Nevada. He became widely known in 2013 when the federal government notified him of their intent to seize his cattle to satisfy a $1 million tax dispute.
Republicans leaders and right-wing media initially attempted to label Bundy a hero, until he began issuing racist statements about “Negros” and publicly stated that he belongs only to the “sovereign state of Nevada” and is not under the control of the U.S. government.
The cry from western conservatives to return federally owned lands to the locals is not new in the area, but officials believe the current incident has little to do with local residents. The militia members are not residents and arrived in town approximately one month ago, and have been reportedly attempting to stir up animosity against the government.
Local officials see this seizure and standoff to be about nothing more than an attempt by armed terrorists to overthrow the government. It is believed the militia is inciting trouble by using their efforts and rhetoric in an attempt to cause similar incidents across the country.