Dwight Hammond and his son Steven Hammond, the cattle ranchers who inspired the takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, have turned themselves into the police.
According to the Washington Post, “the occupation followed a peaceful march and rally held over the weekend to support two local ranchers [Hammond and his son] convicted of arson. Both ranchers...reported to federal prison on Monday.”
Currently, the FBI seeks to resolve this “armed occupation” in eastern Oregon. But Ammon Bundy and his group of occupiers, who now refer to themselves as the “Citizens for Constitutional Freedom,” have suggested that law enforcement will not exert force in their attempts to remove them. From the Washington Post:
“Bundy...said at a news conference Monday that law enforcement officials had sent messages to the people at the refuge saying that authorities did not intend to approach the occupying group. He also said he did not believe officials would try to forcibly remove the protestors from the refuge and did not answer questions about what would happen if this took place.”
In the meantime, the takeover has caused significant disruption in the region. Schools in southeastern Oregon are closed for the week as a safety precaution. The refuge is, predictably, also closed until further notice.
Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward issued a statement on Sunday arguing that the Bundy-led takeover only masqueraded as a protest on the behalf of the Hammonds. Despite these claims, he asserts, “these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”
And at a Monday news conference, Ward sent a crystal clear message to the occupiers at Malheur. “It’s time for you to leave our community,” he said.
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