An armed militia has seized and is occupying a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.
“This refuge — it has been destructive to the people of the county and to the people of the area, people need to be aware that we’ve become a system where government is actually claiming and using and defending people’s rights, and they are doing that against the people.” said Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy, and one of those involved in the occupation.
Cliven Bundy is known for his resistance against the government.
Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward has said that the group is trying to overthrow the government.
“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,” Ward said in a statement Sunday.
The group claims to be peaceful. The aim was to provide a refuge to “patriots” who are resisting the federal government.
“There’s Oregon county residents coming here, the refuge is open, there’s zero no-trespassing signs, we’re breaking no laws. We’re out here on public lands,” Ritzheimer said.
“We will not fire unless fired upon, but we will stand and defend the Constitution,” he said. “Yes, there are some people that are armed. We need to defend our rights. That’s what the 2nd Amendment is there for, people.”
They are protesting the imprisonment of two ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, who were convicted of arson on federal property.
In 2012, the Hammonds were convicted of setting fire to 130 acres. The act was in order to hide signs of poaching. He was sentenced to prison and eventually released after serving his sentence. However, a federal appellate judge found that the two were sentenced improperly and were to spend a longer amount of time in prison. They are to report to prison on Monday.
Through their lawyers, the Hammonds have now rejected the help of the militiamen.