It looks like the authorities have made their first move against the militants occupying the wildlife refuge in Oregon, arresting one of them who had used to government vehicle to drive to a supermarket 30 miles away.
Kenneth Medenbach, who was arrested for unauthorized use of a government vehicle, is a chainsaw sculptor and longtime nemesis of the government with a history of previous entanglements with the courts over the occupation of federal lands.
He is the first militiaman connected to the armed occupation to be arrested since the bird sanctuary in rural Oregon was unexpectedly taken over on 2 January.
Medenbach, 62, was detained outside a Safeway supermarket in Burns, Oregon, some 30 miles from the Malheur national wildlife refuge, according to a statement from the Harney County sheriff’s office.
He appears to have driven from the occupied compound to a local supermarket in a vehicle allegedly stolen from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which runs the refuge. The sheriff’s office statement said that law enforcement officers recovered “two vehicles stolen from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge”.
I am not sure how two vehicles but only one person was involved. Medenbach seems to have a long history of taking over government land.
The lack of response by the authorities had made the militants ever more brazen about using government property.
Armed militia have been seen driving the government vehicles around the refuge ever since they took over the site in protest over federal land management policies earlier this month. Legal experts have told the Guardian that the occupiers could face hefty fines and more than 10 years of imprisonment.
A USFWS spokesperson Megan Nagel said: “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is grateful for the quick actions from law enforcement. We will continue to work with law enforcement to recover vehicles bought and paid for by the American people to care for their national wildlife refuge.”
Meanwhile Ammon Bundy’s bodyguard with the unlikely nickname of Fluffy Unicorn was arrested in Arizona on an unrelated charge that had an outstanding warrant. It looks like the authorities are going to pick them off one by one. Will these people try to break their fellow militiamen out of prison in the grand style of western films?
Last night there was supposed to be a public meeting with the Bundy group telling the community their plans to leave but the fed up local officials are denying them the use of public buildings to a group that is illegally occupying other public buildings.