From Western Journalism
A confrontation in Oregon began Saturday, with a peaceful protest over the prison sentences of ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond. The Hammonds were convicted of arson for fires that burned on federal land several years ago. Federal officials said the fires were a ruse to hide poaching while the Hammonds said they were set to protect their land. Although the Hammonds served their original sentences, those sentences were subsequently ruled too short under federal minimum sentencing laws and the men were due to turn themselves in Monday for prison terms of four years each.
The confrontation has turned more intense, with an on-going standoff between militia members and Oregon law enforcement. FBI officials said its goal is to bring about a “peaceful resolution” to the situation.
Exactly what they mean is not clear, since the FBI will not say what it is doing to resolve the situation at the alter Wildlife Refuge, where protesters have taken over the refuge’s headquarters. The FBI cited “safety considerations for both those inside the refuge as well as the law enforcement officers involved” as the reason for its silence.
Although the FBI was not talking, others were.
“We’re planning on staying here for years, absolutely,” said protest leader Ammon Bundy on Sunday “This is not a decision we’ve made at the last minute.”
Bundy said his supporters will “gather here and we can unite, we can stay out of the cold. We can feed all of the individuals that come. Our intent is to assist the people of Harney County in claiming their rights.”