On January second, an armed group of men seized unoccupied buildings on a federal wildlife
refuge in Oregon.
Saying they want to use the refuge as a “base” and to live in it indefinitely with their guns.
Ammon Bundy: "we need you to bring your arms, and we need you to come here to Malheur National
"We're prepared to be out here as long as we need to."
And donated snacks.
Basically, they want the government to turn over government owned land to local ranchers,
loggers and miners.
But these aren’t locals.
In fact that guy, Ammon Bundy? His father Cliven had a similar armed standoff with the
government in 2014 over cattle-grazing rights.
Cliven Bundy: One more thing I know about the Negro…. I’ve often wondered, were
they better off as slaves? Picking cotton, having family life, and doing things... or
are they better off under government subsidy?"
Now Bundy's sons are trying to promote the cause of two Oregon ranchers, Dwight and Steven
Hammond. They were convicted for arson in 2012 for setting fire to public land. The
were sentenced for federal arson under a terrorism statute, which carries a mandatory minimum
for five years. But the judge didn’t impose that minimum.
So the Hammonds have already been to prison, and now are headed back after a Federal judge
intervened. So this mob is trying to stand for them.
"We have had enough of this tyranny, you are going to leave us alone, it will not change."
Of course it’s exceedingly unlikely their demands will be met. Politicians on both sides
of the aisle had denounced their actions.
Ted Cruz: "We don't have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten
force and violence on others."
The government’s response has been, so far, cool headed.
Press secretary Joshua Earnest: "The FBI has said they are working with local law enforcement
to resolve the situation."
Of course, non-white, unarmed “protesters” have had a very different experience with
police over the past couple years. But there’s a reason the government hasn’t rushed in
guns blazing, and the reason is in the history of other standoffs.
At previous standoffs Ruby Ridge in 1992 and Waco in 1993, scores of people were killed
after the FBI and US Marshals used force during the standoffs. And the Oklahoma City bombing
which killed 168 innocent people was, according to bomber Timothy McVeigh, a response to the
Federal Government's violent reaction during those standoffs.
After that bombing, public support for the FBI’s actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge dropped
from 70% to 42%. After 81 days, not a single shot was fired. And the Government also backed
down during that Cliven Bundy Nevada standoff in 2014.
In 2015, 1,137 people were killed by law enforcement. Let’s hope it’s fewer in 2016.