Militia members still occupying the wildlife refuge near Burns, Oregon have put out a call for assistance from other citizen’s militia groups and other people who oppose a “militarized police presence” in Burns, Ore. They are requesting likeminded persons to converge on the small high desert town near the wildlife refuge that they have occupied almost a month.
Thus far, at least one group has responded to the request, on Saturday, The Pacific Patriots Network organized a rolling rally through the town, and said it planned more demonstrations to protest the killing of one of the Citizens Militia Member last week. That member was killed in what appears to have been a government arranged ambush that was designed to leave all the Militia leadership dead. The area around Burns has since been the scene of a build-up of numerous heavily armed law enforcement officers, despite the fact that only 4 members are believed to be still at the wildlife center.
B.J. Soper, a Burns resident and organizer of the rally said, “Our goal is to show the country that this county does support what is going on.” The rally was very successful for the short notice that participants had, with more than 100 people and dozens of U.S. and Confederate flag-covered vehicles taking part.
There was one lone woman who showed up to oppose the rally. Jen Hoke of Burns carried a sign saying “Militia Go Home.” ”These people are spreading a message of hate,” Hoke said.
But holding steadfast in their commitment, the four remaining Militia Members occupying the wildlife refuge held their position Sunday. They have demanded that they be allowed to leave without being arrested. Meanwhile, the Militia’s leader, who was also in at the scene of the deadly ambush and who’s brother was wounded, remained in jail. Ammon Bundy, and 10 other Militia members were arrested earlier in the week, most of them were taken into custody at the ambush site. According to the members lawyers, none of them where armed at the time of the attack by government forces, including Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, who was murdered in the confrontation.
While the standoff that originated over federal land-use policies has led to filled-up hotels and restaurants as police, protesters and media have flocked to the area, locals say that much like the first American Revolution, the conflict is pitting neighbor against neighbor.
Bundy and several other jailed leaders appeared Friday in federal court in Portland, where a judge denied their release constitutional right to bail. U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman said Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and Ryan Payne pose a danger to the community, and she is concerned they would not follow orders to return to Oregon for criminal proceedings.
Court documents detail some of the evidence against the occupiers. The charges against the defendants say the refuge’s 16 employees have been prevented from reporting to work because of threats of violence. Those are hardly violent charges that warrant a denial of bail.
Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, the group’s spokesman, was killed Tuesday night in a confrontation that resulted from the ambush set by the government. The group was on its way to talk to citizens in another town when their vehicles were attacked by FBI and Oregon State Police on a remote road. Bundy and four others were arrested during the encounter. People at the rolling rally held up pictures of Finicum on Saturday, and demanded justice.
The FBI on Thursday released a video showing Finicum’s death, to counter claims he did nothing to provoke his killing. In the aerial video, Finicum is pulled over in his truck but then after sitting there for three minutes and 45 seconds, he drives away later only to crash into a snow bank avoiding a roadblock complete with two armored trucks. He gets out and has his hands up as he struggles to walk toward officers in thigh high snow. At one point, he drops is hands slightly trying to keep his balance then he is shot and grabs his side where he was hit and is shot again from behind.
Officials first said that it was unclear who had fired first, but reports surfaced that none of the Militia members were armed at the time out of fear they would be killed if such an ambush occurred. Then Authorities said that they recoverd a 9MM pistol from “LaVoy’s” pocket. But his gun was shown later by members that were still at the refuge still in its holster at the camp.
©2016 R. L. Grimes