We are in the second week of the armed militia’s protest against the federal authorities. Since the 2nd of January, a group of armed militia has stationed themselves at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon.
The armed men, many of them ranchers, accused the federal authorities of unfairly punishing poor ranchers who refused to sell and leave their lands to federal authorities in the area.
And they have said the only way to resolve the situation is to have armed “patriots” come and live in a de-facto self-rule zone independent of federal authorities.
Currently, the public’s opinion of the actions of the armed men occupying the Burns area, is divided across the United States. However, the federal authorities seem to lack any concrete plan to engage the armed men and end the occupation.
Recently, we sourced a story from Occupy Democrat that said federal authorities were cutting power, roads and telephone lines in the occupied area in Burns in order to force the armed men out of the area.
Occupy Democrat quoted an unnamed official in Washington saying: “It’s in the middle of nowhere. And it’s flat-ass cold up there. After they shut off the power, they’ll kill the phone service. Then, they’ll block all the roads so that all those guys have a long, lonely winter to think about what they’ve done.”
Days have passed, and this plan has not been implemented. The armed men still enjoy all social amenities in the area. The armed men have since held a press conference, saying that they will only end the occupation if the federal government addresses their grievances.
In a recent development, a different armed group has offered to help the federal government and the armed ranchers bring an end to the occupation.
The Guardian reports that a large group of heavily armed men, calling themselves Pacific Patriot Network (PPN), showed up at the wildlife refuge occupation in Burns on January 9.
It is said PPN arrived just as the original occupiers (armed ranchers) were finishing up a morning press conference. According to local media sources, a fleet of more than a dozen vehicles drove up to the occupied site. Upon their arrival, men armed with rifles got out of their trucks and began stationing themselves along the main road in the area.
According to Oregon Live, the PPN group is a consortium of several armed groups from Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
It is said this surprise entry by PPN made the atmosphere in the area very tense for some time. But later, PPN introduced themselves, and said they are a “neutral party” who are there to provide security and protection for everyone at the refuge.
Joe Oshaughnessy, a man who claims to work for a group calling itself the North American Coalition of Constitutional Militias, said his organization and the PPN were trying to provide a “buffer zone” between government officials and the armed ranchers, meaning they could help diffuse any conflicts that might arise.
But the leader of the armed ranchers, Ammon Bundy told the PPN men that they were not welcome or needed and that they (the armed ranchers) are trying to limit the number of guns in the area.
“Ammon felt blindsided. This was not a welcome development. We are trying to de-escalate here – then boom, they all show up,” said Todd MacFarlane, who is acting as a liaison between the armed ranchers and the public. It is unclear why the armed ranchers are turning away the PPN. Last week, the armed ranchers called for “patriots” to rise up join them.
A spokesman for PPN, Joseph Rice also told reporters in a very brief conversation that they were there to try to help the armed ranchers and the government reach a resolution and end the occupation.
Rice said although the armed ranchers have asked them to leave the area, he has met with Bundy and plans to meet with government officials to try and end the occupation.
Rice was quoted as saying ,“We are moving on to present them the articles of resolution to other government agencies.”
The ranchers took up arms after a District Judge recently sentenced Dwight Lincoln Hammond, 73, and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, 46, to five years in prison for committing arson on federal lands. Dwight and his son are both ranchers in Harney County.
However, according to supporters of the Hammonds, the two ranchers are being persecuted because they refused to sell their lands to the federal authorities. According to these sources, the federal authorities planned to use the site as a conservation site.
Bundy has said that the Harney County area used to be the richest in the state, but now, due to the actions of federal authorities, the area is now the poorest in the state.
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