U.S. feds monitoring armed anti-government group in Oregon, from a distance

BURNS, Ore. -- An armed anti-government group took over a remote national wildlife refuge in Oregon as part of a decades-long fight over public lands in the West, while federal authorities are keeping watch but keeping their distance.

See Full Article

The group came to the frozen high desert of eastern Oregon to contest the prison sentences of two ranchers who set fire to federal land, but their ultimate goal is to turn over the property to local authorities so people can use it free of U.S. oversight.

People across the globe have marveled that federal authorities didn't move to take back the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Residents say they have not seen a large presence of officers, and the government's tactic generally is to monitor protesters from afar but leave them be as long as they don't show signs of violence.

That's how federal officials defused a high-profile 2014 standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy over grazing rights. Now, Bundy's two sons are leading the push in Oregon.

Ryan Bundy told The Associated Press on Sunday that he hopes the takeover will prompt others to take action across the country to seize control of federally managed land.

"The end goal here is that we are here to restore the rights to the people here so that they can use the land and resources. All of them," Bundy said.

That means ranchers can graze their cattle, miners can use their mineral rights, loggers can cut trees, and hunters and fishers can shoot and cast, he said.

The latest dispute traces its roots to the 1970s and the "Sagebrush Rebellion," a move by Western states like Nevada to increase local control over federal land. While ranchers and others complain of onerous federal rules, critics of the push for more local control have said the federal government should administer the public lands for the widest possible uses, including environmental and recreation.

Residents of the tiny town of Burns, 30 miles south of the wildlife refuge, are concerned about the potential for violence.

Keith Landon, a longtime resident and employee at the Reid Country Store, said he knows local law enforcement officials who fear their kids will be targeted by the group.

"I'm hoping most of it's just muscle, trying to push," he said. "But it's a scary thing."

If the situation turns violent, Bundy contends that it will be because of the federal government's actions.

"I mean, we're here to restore order, we're here to restore rights, and that can go peacefully and easily," he said.

The ranchers whose cause has been the rallying cry also reject the group's support. Dwight and son Steven Hammond were convicted of arson three years ago for fires on federal land in 2001 and 2006. They served their original sentences -- Dwight, three months and Steven, one year -- but a judge ruled that the terms were too short under federal minimum sentencing laws.

Both men were ordered back to prison for four years each. They have said they plan to turn themselves in Monday.

The Bundy brothers say the group plans to stay at the refuge as long as it takes. They declined to say how many people were at the property where several pickup trucks blocked the entrance and armed men wore camouflage and winter gear.

"We're planning on staying here for years, absolutely," Ammon Bundy told reporters over the weekend. "This is not a decision we've made at the last minute."

The FBI is working with local and state authorities to "bring a peaceful resolution to the situation," the bureau said in a statement late Sunday. It said it is the agency in charge and would not release details about the law enforcement response to ensure the safety of officers and those at the refuge.

Some are criticizing the lack of action, saying it is because those occupying the property are white.

Landon, the longtime Burns resident, said he sympathizes with the Bundys' frustrations. Landon was a logger until the federal government declared the spotted owl a protected species in the 1980s, damaging the local logging industry.

"It's hard to discredit what they're trying to do out there. But I don't want anybody hurt," he said.

Landon said that on the surface, it doesn't look like much has changed in Burns, a high desert town of about 2,700 people.

"It's weird -- I woke up this morning expecting the town to be crawling with this and that agency. But you don't see any of it. They're keeping a low presence," Landon said Sunday.

However, most of the hotels in the area are booked, and he's noticed that officers are doing their patrols in pairs instead of alone. The biggest difference since the takeover is the undercurrent of worry, he said.

"I'm glad they took the refuge because it's 30 miles away," Landon said. "I mean, they could have took the courthouse here in town."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • U.S. Navy captain in charge of USS Fitzgerald during collision to lose command

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - Poor seamanship and flaws in keeping watch contributed to a collision between a Navy destroyer and a commercial container ship that killed seven sailors, Navy officials said, announcing that the warship captain will be relieved of command and more than a dozen other sailors will be punished. Source
  • Threat looms of more mudslides in Sierra Leone amid burials

    World News CTV News
    FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - The president joined with families in paying final respects Thursday to victims of this week's mudslides and flooding in Sierra Leone's capital, while the government warned residents to evacuate a mountainside where a large crack opened. Source
  • Suspects with bomb belts killed in Cambrils after Barcelona terror attack, police say [Photos] [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    BARCELONA, Spain — A white van jumped the sidewalk Thursday in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. In a photograph shown by public broadcaster RTVE, three people were lying on the ground in the street of the northern Spanish city Thursday afternoon, apparently being helped by police and others. Source
  • Father charged in baby boy's fatal OD

    World News CTV News
    HAMILTON, Ohio -- An Ohio man has been charged in the fatal drug overdose of his 1-year-old son. Thirty-three-year-old Dorrico Brown, of Trenton, Ohio, was jailed Wednesday on charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering in the death of Dorrico Brown Jr. Source
  • 'I know how powerful hate is' — A one-time Canadian neo-Nazi speaks out on Charlottesville

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    It has been 10 years since Elizabeth Moore has spoken publicly about her years as the pretty, public face of Canada’s neo-Nazi Heritage Front. Then came Charlottesville. “I know what these people are feeling. I know how powerful hate is,” Moore says from her Toronto home. Source
  • U.S. helping clear 'historic' amount of explosives in Mosul

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD -- The wires protruding from the small, misshapen stuffed animal revealed the deadly booby-trap tucked inside. For the people of Mosul, the sophisticated bomb was a reminder of how difficult it will be to return to homes littered with hidden explosives by Islamic State militants and dotted with the remnants of undetonated bombs dropped by the U.S. Source
  • As terrorists turn to truck attacks, cities invest in street-proofing

    World News CTV News
    Nice. Berlin. London. And now, Barcelona. Deadly attacks involving rented vehicles driven into crowds of pedestrians have been carried out in several cities with a horrific degree of similarity. In fact, the brutal method is promoted by ISIS online. Source
  • As terrorists turn to vehicle attacks, cities invest in street-proofing

    World News CTV News
    Nice. Berlin. London. And now, Barcelona. Deadly attacks involving rented vehicles driven into crowds of pedestrians have been carried out in several cities with a horrific degree of similarity. In fact, the brutal method is promoted by ISIS online. Source
  • Boat overturns off Haiti; 6 dead and at least 10 missing

    World News CTV News
    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Authorities in Haiti say at least six people drowned and about 10 are missing after a boat overturned off the northern coast. Local Civil Protection agency representative Jose Rethone says 23 people have been rescued and a search is continuing for more survivors near the city of Port-de-Paix. Source
  • No Canadians reported among dead or injured in Spain terror attack: Global Affairs [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — Canadians in Spain are being urged to avoid the Las Ramblas area in Barcelona, where a van has plowed through a crowd in the popular tourist area near the city centre. Global Affairs Canada is also urging Canadians in Spain to let their “loved ones know you are safe. Source