Three of Cliven Bundy’s sons and approximately 150 other armed militia members — most of them remnants of the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada — have taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge building in Harney County, Oregon, allegedly to provoke a standoff with the federal government. The group is reportedly led by Bundy’s son, Ammon, who is accompanied by brothers Ryan and Mel.
The occupation began after a large group protested on the building’s grounds, demanding the release of Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, two Oregon ranchers convicted of arson charges in 2012. U.S. Justice Department records show that the Hammonds’ crime was setting fire to 139 acres of public land which they were using to poach deer. The Hammonds were re-sentenced to 5 years in prison in October 2015.
According to The Oregonian, Bundy’s group plans to occupy the building for several years and turn it into a safe haven for so-called sovereign citizens whose aim is to live outside the reach of a “tyrannical” federal government. The group is armed and told local press that militia members won’t hesitate to fire upon police and federal officials.
In phone interviews from inside the occupied building Saturday night, Ammon Bundy and his brother, Ryan Bundy, said they are not looking to hurt anyone. But they would not rule out violence if police try to remove them, they said, though they declined to elaborate.
In a video posted to YouTube, the group calls on “patriots” from across the US to join the occupation, and to bring weapons:
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