Oregon sheriff cheered as he tells armed group to 'go home'

BURNS, Ore. - Cheers erupted at a packed community meeting in rural Oregon when a sheriff said it was time for a small, armed group occupying a national wildlife refuge to "pick up and go home"

See Full Article

The group objecting to federal land policy seized buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday. Authorities have not yet moved to remove the group of roughly two dozen people, some from as far away as Arizona and Michigan. The group also objects to a lengthy prison sentence for two local ranchers convicted of arson.

"I'm here today to ask those folks to go home and let us get back to our lives," Harney County Sheriff David Ward said Wednesday evening.

Schools were closed following the seizure of the refuge because of safety concerns in this small town in eastern Oregon's high desert country and tensions have risen. Ward told the hundreds gathered at the meeting he hoped the community would put up a "united front" to peacefully resolve the conflict.

Group leader Ammon Bundy has told reporters they will leave when there's a plan in place to turn over federal lands to locals.

Several people spoke in support of Bundy and his followers at Wednesday's meeting.

"They are waking people up," said 80-year-old Merlin Rupp, a long-time local resident. "They are just making a statement for us, to wake us up."

Earlier Wednesday the leader of an American Indian tribe that regards the preserve as sacred issued a rebuke to Ammon's group, saying they are not welcome at the snowy bird sanctuary and must leave.

"The protesters have no right to this land. It belongs to the native people who live here," Burns Paiute Tribal leader Charlotte Rodrique said.

Bundy is demanding that the refuge be handed over to locals.

Rodrique said she "had to laugh" at the demand, because she knew Bundy was not talking about giving the land to the tribe.

The standoff in rural Oregon is a continuation of a long-running dispute over federal policies covering the use of public lands, including grazing. The federal government controls about half of all land in the West. For example, it owns 53 per cent of Oregon, 85 per cent of Nevada and 66 per cent of Utah, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The Bundy family is among many people in the West who contend local officials could do a better job of managing public lands than the federal government.

The argument is rejected by those who say the U.S. government is better equipped to manage public lands for all those who want to make use of them.

Among those groups are Native Americans.

The Burns Paiute tribe has guaranteed access to the refuge for activities that are important to their culture, including gathering a plant used for making traditional baskets and seeds that are used for making bread. The tribe also hunts and fishes there.

Rodrique said the armed occupiers are "desecrating one of our sacred sites" with their presence at refuge.

Bundy's group, calling itself Citizens for constitutional Freedom, says it wants an inquiry into whether the government is forcing ranchers off their land after Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven, reported back to prison Monday.

The Hammonds are long-time local residents who have distanced themselves from the group Bundy's group. They were convicted of arson three years ago and served no more than a year. A judge later ruled that the terms fell short of minimum sentences requiring them to serve about four more years.

At the emotional community meeting Ward, the county sheriff, said he understood the problems some had with the ranchers' court case. However he said people needed to express but their anger peacefully and lawfully.

"I've got my own frustrations, we've got visitors in town that have their frustrations, but there's appropriate ways to work out our differences," he said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Portland mayor aims to nix free-speech rally after dual stabbing

    World News CBC News
    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade. Source
  • City clash fuels fear of ISIS foothold in southern Philippines

    World News CTV News
    MARAWI, Philippines -- Inside this lakeside city dotted with hundreds of mosques, a powerful militant designated by the Islamic State group as its leader in the Philippines has managed to unify a disparate group of gunmen under a single command. Source
  • B.C. NDP and Greens hint at shared vision during surprise announcement

    Canada News CTV News
    What do you get when you mix green and orange? A potential end to the BC Liberals’ 16-year dynastic rule of Canada’s Pacific province. In a surprise press conference on Monday, the leaders of B.C. Source
  • What's that smell? Predators eyeing new bison calf neighbours

    Canada News CBC News
    Nine bison calves were born this spring in the Panther Valley of Banff National Park after what appears to be a successful herd reintroduction, and predators are taking notice. "One morning there were grizzly paw prints all around the fences," Marie-Eve Marchand of the conservation group Bison Belong told the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday. Source
  • Drunk senior sentenced for shooting a young woman he'd taken in

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Accidentally shooting a young woman he'd taken into his home while severely intoxicated has landed a Calgary senior a 16-month jail term. Provincial court Judge Gerry Meagher on Monday agreed with Crown prosecutor Marta Juzwiak that a period behind bars was necessary for Leslie Neil Jensen. Source
  • Paramedics, officer hurt by combative patient at scene of Calgary crash

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY -- Two paramedics and a police officer have been injured by a combative patient at the scene of a collision on a Calgary freeway. One paramedic's injuries are being described as serious but non-life-threatening, while the others sustained minor injuries. Source
  • Strong Indonesia earthquake damages buildings, at least 3 injured

    World News CTV News
    JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A strong, shallow earthquake rocked Indonesia's central Sulawesi province Monday evening, injuring at least three people and damaging some buildings and houses, but producing no tsunami warning. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.8 quake was centred in a thinly populated area 79 kilometres (49 miles) southeast of the provincial capital, Palu, at a depth of 9.1 kilometres (6 miles). Source
  • Accused Portland stabber liked Nazis, comics and pot

    World News Toronto Sun
    Jeremy Joseph Christian was a man seething with rage. The 35-year-old Oregon man is accused of stabbing to death two good Samaritans who came to the rescue of two young women being harangued on a Portland commuter train. Source
  • Germany's Merkel says U.S. no longer a reliable partner for Europe

    World News CBC News
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined her doubts about the reliability of the United States as an ally on Monday but said she was a "convinced trans-Atlanticist," fine-tuning her message after surprising Washington with her frankness a day earlier. Source
  • Ecuadorean president calls WikiLeaks founder a hacker

    World News CTV News
    QUITO, Ecuador -- Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno is calling WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange a hacker. But Moreno added Monday that even though he considers Assange a hacker, Ecuador's government will allow the Australian to remain at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Source