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Cheers for sheriff who tells armed group to 'go home'

By TERRENCE PETTY and MANUEL VALDES
Of the Associated Press

BURNS — 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”

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 percent of Oregon, 85 percent of Nevada and 66 percent 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.

___

Petty reported from Portland, Oregon.

Comments

yamhillbilly2

What makes "The Bundy Boys" think the land was originally owned by white ranchers who stole it from the Native American's I'm sick of them thinking they are the only ones who know The "Real Constitution". At least they can provide lots of fodder for the comics. The thing that really bugs me, is they are giving the rest of the country the impression that the people of Oregon are supporting them. A lot of us are not!

Mudstump

I read that "Constitution" that the Bundy gang carries in their front pocket is an interpreted version of the Constitution written by Willard Cleon Skousen. Here is a snip of what the article said,
"Skousen believed we have a choice between Christ or Chaos and that Mormons are important in all of this in that the future depends on accepting God’s government. He believed that Mormons were destined to lead in the effort to dictate morality. Most importantly, he believed that our alleged Constitutional decline began when the Federal Government started enforcing equality under the law, thereby ignoring the wishes of the individual states."

Mudstump

Sorry...I think I should have included a link to the article mentioned:

http://letstalknevada.com/the-constitution-in-cliven-bundys-pocket/

Horse with no name

Religion and Government, surprise surprise. The County Commissioners and their flock don't think religion causes problems for government. Heck I bet a couple of them would love to saddle up and lend ol' Bundy a hand, time has come, rise up. Surprise surprise, some nut says God told them they should be running the country and they act on it. Why wouldn't they, God told them to. I guess all that religious home schooling kind of skips over the "Civics" and "American History" classes, or they preach some version of Skousen or Rushdoony insanity in place of a real education. Anybody get how stupid it is to mix religion and government. Our County Commissioners say let all religions do their thing at their official government meetings. What in the name of any kind of good sense kind of decision is that. Anybody notice the nut cases are always saying God told them to do what they do. Most of these folks are upset because slaves were freed and women got the vote. They see a black man as President of the United States and go nuts. Oh the good ol' days. I'm proud of the sheriff over there for doing his job, standing for the law. He damn sure appears to be a professional and that's what we should all expect from all of our public employees.

Mudstump

Public records indicate that Ammon Bundy the son of Cliven Bundy the Nevada rancher took out a $530,000 Small Business Administration loan for his truck business. I guess there are times when he does think the government serves a purpose...his purpose. Another example of the taker mentality of the Bundys and the hypocrisy to boot. He can once again thank the American taxpayer for the helping hand.

Horse with no name

I think it's best sometimes to let the crazy speak for themselves:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7M0mG6HUyk&feature=youtu.be

The same mindset is at work when our County Commissioners are looking for guidance in governing our county. Makes ya feel warm and fuzzy right. I personally would feel a lot better knowing they were guided by reason, logic, and what is good for the residents. When you can't do your job without praying, maybe you should give reason, logic and good sense a chance or maybe they are in over their head, like Bundy.

Mudstump

I read in the Oregonian that the gunman used government vehicles to take down a portion of a fence to allow a neighboring rancher to graze his cattle on the refuge (people's) land. The fence was constructed in the past year and it was paid for by the feds through a grant of $100,000. It makes you wonder just what Constitution these armed militants are reading? It seems they think freedom to do as one pleases is their right alone.

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