Stakes rise in Oregon standoff

The stakes are rising in the standoff in the Oregon wildlife refuge. Seemingly emboldened by the lack of response by the authorities, the militants have used heavy equipment belonging to the federal government to remove fences, no doubt to free the land from the tyranny of government, and even though such removal is against the wishes of the ranchers who actually live in the area. They are also using government computers in the offices to create websites promoting their cause. These are clearly violations of the law.

Schools in the area had been closed for a week but have now re-opened. A tearful student at a public meeting said that she should not have to feel so fearful in her own hometown. A state judge has said that he plans to bill the Bundy group up to $70,000 per day for the costs they are incurring for the county.

The Bundy group meanwhile has brought in their own self-appointed ‘sovereign citizen judge’ named Bruce Doucette, the owner of a computer repair shop in Denver, who says he will convene a ‘private grand jury’ to charge government officials with crimes. Doucette has a long history of charging government officials with crimes and issuing arrest warrants.

The local residents are fed up with these outsiders coming and harassing them.

Fear of the militants occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and roaming the communities of Burns and Hines sits like a heavy winter fog over the area.

More than a dozen local residents have reported to authorities that they were harassed in the weeks leading up to the occupation and in the days since. Different trucks, SUVs and other vehicles — most with out-of-state licenses — have followed the residents.

Four of the people who filed reports agreed to share their accounts with The Oregonian/OregonLive only if their names and identifying information were withheld because they feared further harassment. Law enforcement sources confirmed each had reported the episodes.

The article goes on to describe case after case of people being intimidated by these militia members and either living in fear or moving their families away until this settles.

I can understand the frustration of local residents who feel that they are helpless in the face of these heavily armed militants and by the fact that the authorities have done nothing about them, allowing them to come and go as they please. I am not sure how long the government is going to tolerate this lawlessness. As has been pointed out by many others, what group other than white conservative men would be able to get away with this kind of behavior for so long?

The Bundy group says that they will announce at a community meeting tomorrow when they are leaving. If they are allowed to go freely and not charged with any offenses, it is not hard to see that this kind of behavior will escalate.

Stephen Colbert has some more thoughts on the Oregon standoff.


  1. raven says

    The combination of right wingnuts and guns often leaves a few dead bodies around.

    Sovereign citizens who were at the Nevada Bundy fiasco killed two Las Vegas cops by ambush. Two milita members today in Texas settled a dispute in a shootout leaving one dead.

    I’d be surprised if someone(s) don’t end up dead around the Harney county standoff. An internal dispute, someone assassinating law enforcement or federal workers, or shooting it out with the cops when they try to arrest them for trespassing and various acts of vandalism.

  2. Numenaster says

    I’ve been checking the Big O’s site every morning fro the latest. Since they take comments on news stories there, sometimes I read those too. Today’s comments included a lengthy discussion about the fact that there are fewer comments every day on these stories, which the regulars interpreted as a sign of public interest fading. Of course here in Portland it’s not fading MUCH, but I can well imagine that folks from New York and Florida have had their attention captured by news closer to home. Violence is probably the only thing that would bring Harney County back to the center of the news.

    And I think if there were going to be violence, especially from the government side, it would have happened already. But then I’m an optimist. Bundy seems to be doing a good job of maintaining order over his ragtag band, what with asking some of the heavily armed late arrivals to go home again. I’m guessing that was after they refused his leadership in some way, though I haven’t heard anything that goes into the reasons. If Bundy is deliberately keeping his group limited to those who accept his control, it will slow the development of factions and stretch out the time before a rogue member of his group does something that can’t be overlooked. It seems pretty clear that the government is not going to move on them unless forced to, and I’m just fine with that. I’d rather their punishment was delivered slowly, over years, via court proceedings that annoy them no end, than have anybody shot over this.

  3. lorn says

    I suspect that the feds are going to let this play out for as long as possible. Every day it goes on the militia members get more tired, more frustrated, weaker. The local community is getting louder in its criticism of the militia and less likely to be critical of any federal reaction. The militias media image suffers each day. The inherent humor and frustrated reaction is special:

    They are increasingly seen as bumbling incompetents who failed to plan ahead or think through the situation. Logistics, they brought lots of guns and ammunition but evidently forgot, among many other things, hygiene supplies and underwear:

    Every day their situation gets weaker. But don’t forget that the feds, if they ever decide to move in with armed force, can do so in a few hours because they are in the area. There is a photo of FBI agents at the Burns Municipal Airport on Sunday, January 10. If and when they come that is how they will arrive and be assured, all their people will be rested and well washed. Give it enough time and the locals might cheer the feds on.

    I suspect that the main reason the feds feel free to let it ride is that the location of the occupation is thirty miles from anywhere and, other than the media and a few casual observers who have been generally well treated, the general public is not at any great risk.

    With a little luck they will have a shootout among themselves over the last Twinkie.

  4. Mano Singham says


    I think that was deliberate. They were mocking them by suggesting that they were like little boys playing as grown ups, with the same level of literacy.

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