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

  • New model confirms endangered right whales are declining

    World News CTV News
    PORTLAND, Maine -- Researchers with the federal government and the New England Aquarium have developed a new model they said will provide better estimates about the North Atlantic right whale population, and the news isn't good. Source
  • John McCain: Brain cancer prognosis ’very poor’

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John McCain says doctors have given him a “very poor prognosis” as he battles brain cancer. McCain underwent surgery in July for a brain tumour that was later found to be a form of glioblastoma, the same type of cancer that took the life of his former Senate colleague Edward M. Source
  • Chelsea Manning says she was denied entry to Canada for convictions similar to treason

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — The former U.S. soldier who leaked thousands of classified military documents says she’s been barred from entering Canada as a result of her criminal record. Chelsea Manning posted a letter from Canadian immigration officials online Monday detailing the reasons she was denied entry at a Quebec border crossing late last week. Source
  • New Zealand waits to see who will form government after minority election results

    World News CBC News
    New Zealanders will likely need to wait two or three weeks to find out who will next lead their country after a general election on Saturday ended with an inconclusive result. Prime Minister Bill English's National Party won the most votes but not enough to form a government without help from other political parties. Source
  • Suspect in Quebec Amber Alert case makes brief initial court appearance

    Canada News CTV News
    SAINT-JEROME, Que. -- The 41-year-old father at the heart of an Amber Alert in Quebec earlier this month made his first court appearance today. He kept his stare fixed to the ground as he briefly appeared before a judge in Saint-Jerome, Que. Source
  • North Korean diplomat says Donald Trump has ’declared war’ on his country

    World News Toronto Sun
    North Korea’s top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump’s tweet that leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer” was a declaration of war against his country by the United States. Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters that what he called Trump’s “declaration of war” gives North Korea “every right” under the U.N. Source
  • 'The scale is just vast': Authorities, aid workers in Bangladesh overwhelmed by Rohingya refugees

    World News CBC News
    Khanon Zahed survived a killing campaign at home and an epic cross-border escape, only to end up lying on a dirty sheet on the floor of a hallway at a Bangladesh hospital. Five-year-old Zahed is just one of the more than 430,000 Rohingya from Myanmar now sheltering in Bangladesh — an exodus of vast proportions that in the span of only one month has overwhelmed the authorities here and bewildered even the most seasoned aid workers. Source
  • Anthony Weiner sentenced to 21 months for sexting teen

    World News Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Former Rep. Anthony Weiner was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl in a case that rocked Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the White House in the closing days of the race and may have cost her the presidency. Source
  • Warnings issued as record temperatures continue in Ontario, Quebec

    Canada News CTV News
    The first weekend of fall proved to be one of the hottest of the year in southern Ontario and Quebec as heat warnings spanned the area and continue into the week. Temperatures across the southern parts of both provinces exceeded 30 C with the humidex levels approaching the 40s over the weekend, breaking numerous heat records in the process. Source
  • Pennsylvania funeral director arrested over corpse pictures

    World News Toronto Sun
    EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania funeral director has been charged with abusing corpses for allegedly taking cellphone pictures of the dead to “gross out” her friends and family. Twenty-seven-year-old Angeliegha Stewart also faces a marijuana charge, after Monroe County detectives found conversations about deals when they searched her phone last month amid their investigation into the photos. Source