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Some “Armed” Protest Occupations Are More Equal Than Others

Some “Armed” Protest Occupations Are More Equal Than Others

Different media lenses depending on the group.

Protesters have taken over a small federal building in Oregon and some of them are armed. One of them is Ammon Bundy, son of rancher Cliven Bundy who was in the news last year for clashing with federal authorities over land use.

The reason for the protest seems to be two-fold. The situation which set off the protest was the prosecution of a pair of father and son ranchers named Hammond. The Hammonds are not part of the protest however and are expected to surrender themselves to authorities Monday for separate charges.

The second aspect of the protest is a grievance over the federal government taking over land that used to be owned by ranchers.

Two words keep coming up in reportage of this story: Occupation and armed. Unlike media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which bent over backwards to portray the “mostly peaceful” movement in a sympathetic light, the media is going out of its way to emphasize that some members of this occupation are armed.

Here’s how CNN is covering the story:

Armed group’s leader in federal building: ‘We will be here as long as it takes’

Armed anti-government protesters have taken over a building in a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, accusing officials of unfairly punishing ranchers who refused to sell their land.

One of them is Ammon Bundy, the 40-year-old son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who is well-known for anti-government action.

He spoke by phone to CNN Sunday morning. Asked several times what he and those with him want, he answered in vague terms, saying that they want the federal government to restore the “people’s constitutional rights.”

“This refuge — it has been destructive to the people of the county and to the people of the area,” he said.

“People need to be aware that we’ve become a system where government is actually claiming and using and defending people’s rights, and they are doing that against the people.”

Ed Krayewski of Reason offers a much more objective report:

Armed Protesters in Oregon Occupy Remote Federal Outpost at Wildlife Refuge After Marching Against Sentence of Father and Son Ranchers

Yesterday afternoon, as many as 300 demonstrators gathered in Burns, Oregon, to protest a federal appeals court’s decision to extend the length of a sentence handed down by a district chief judge in the arson case of ranchers father and son Dwight and Steven Hammond…

As per the deal, the Hammonds didn’t appeal the sentence. But the Department of Justice (DOJ) did, getting the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Judge Hogan’s decision and order the Hammonds to return to jail. They are supposed to do so on Monday.

Many media outlets are not reporting these particular facts. Oregon Live’s article, listed as “highly cited” by Google News, mentions only that the protesters opposed the Hammonds’ prosecution and that the father-son duo would be reporting to jail Monday.

Even more attention has gone to the protesters’ actions after the demonstration in Burns. Some of the armed protesters, led by rancher and militiaman-activist Ammon Bundy, then headed for a remote federal outpost 30 miles away, which was located in and served as the headquarters for the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, with the intention to occupy the building until federal authorities stop persecuting local ranchers like the Hammonds with heavy-handed prosecutions and land management.

Left-wing Twitter, of course, didn’t label this protest, say, #OccupyMalheur, but #OregonUnderAttack, which implies, incorrectly, that the protesters at Malheur were being violent against the residents of Oregon. There have been no reports of any casualties, clashes, hostages, or deaths. There appears to have been nobody at the outpost the protesters occupied. Bundy told the media he and the protesters plan on occupying the outpost “for years,” and called on like-minded activists, or “patriots,” to join them, but it’s unclear that the protesters have the resources to accomplish a sustained occupation. The local sheriff said multiple agencies are “currently working on a solution.”

CNN spoke to Ammon Bundy on the phone today. Listen to the exchange below:

For some background on the issue of the federal government and land grabs, read this 2010 column by Michelle Malkin who suggests that this has been a quiet pet issue for the Obama administration.

Be prepared for an onslaught of left-wing thought pieces about this situation which will be offered as proof that angry right-wing gun owners are the greatest danger to America today. This plays into one of the left’s favorite narratives and the opportunity won’t be wasted.

For the sake of comparison, consider this wildly unreported 2012 story from the Daily Caller:

As college student, Eric Holder participated in ‘armed’ takeover of former Columbia University ROTC office

As a freshman at Columbia University in 1970, future Attorney General Eric Holder participated in a five-day occupation of an abandoned Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) headquarters with a group of black students later described by the university’s Black Students’ Organization as “armed,” The Daily Caller has learned.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has not responded to questions from The Daily Caller about whether Holder himself was armed — and if so, with what sort of weapon.

Holder was then among the leaders of the Student Afro-American Society (SAAS), which demanded that the former ROTC office be renamed the “Malcolm X Lounge.” The change, the group insisted, was to be made “in honor of a man who recognized the importance of territory as a basis for nationhood.”

Or this 2009 story from the Cornell Chronicle:

A campus takeover that symbolized an era of change

Early in the morning of Parents’ Weekend, 40 years ago this Saturday, 11 fire alarms rang out across the Cornell campus. At 3 a.m., a burning cross was discovered outside Wari House, a cooperative for black women students. The following morning, members of the Afro-American Society (AAS) occupied Willard Straight Hall to protest Cornell’s perceived racism, its judicial system and its slow progress in establishing a black studies program.

The events that were to prompt decades of social, cultural and political change on campus were in play.

At 9:40 a.m., in an attempt to take the building back, white Delta Upsilon fraternity brothers entered the Straight and fought with AAS students in the Ivy Room before being ejected. Fearing further attacks, the black students brought guns into the Straight to defend themselves.

Meanwhile, Instapundit has found the tweet of the day:

Featured image via YouTube.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Twenty First Century range wars, with a land-grabbing, self-aggrandizing Federal Government.

Check with Hillary to find out what video these people watched.

BREAKING: Lunatics take over Federal building.
Old news, they have occupied the white house for years.

The armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters building by some of Cliven Bundy’s relatives and some unspecified “militia members” is getting a lot of press, most of it extremely negative. The occupation is part of a protest of the five year jail terms, to be started tomorrow, of Dwight Hammond, Jr and Steven Hammond on the charge of arson, with a terrorism enhancement. However, the MSM is not telling the whole story, which is quite different than the way they are portraying it. The following is a short version of a very l-o-n-g story.

Back in 1964 the Hammonds purchased a ranch in Oregon’s Harney Basin,comprising about 6000 acres of privately owned property adjacent to the Malheur refuge. Included in that purchase were a ranch house, rights to three sources of water, and four rights to graze cattle on public lands.

By the 1970’s BLM was doing a major expansion of the Malheur refuge, having bought out many of the surrounding ranches, with the refuge eventually surrounding the Hammond’s property. BLM tried many times to buy out the Hammonds but they refused, as did several other ranch owners. In an effort to get those lands BLM tried another tactic; they determined that “grazing was detrimental to wildlife and must be reduced”. Accordingly approximately two-thirds of the grazing permits were revoked, forcing a number of ranchers to leave. Permit fees were raised exorbitantly for those still unwilling to sell, and an irrigation system built by the ranchers was confiscated, for lack of a better word, by BLM.

When these tactics failed to force the Hammonds to sell other, less savory methods began. Water sources legally owned by the Hammonds were fenced off, access to a part of their property was denied (they had to cross refuge land to reach it). Then the fire problems started.

In 2001 Steve Hammond started a prescribed burn on their property*. It spread to public land where burned 127 acres and was extinguished by the Hammonds; no federal agency contacted the Hammaonds regarding this burn, even though it was common knowledge in the community. Then in 2006 lightening ignited several fires that merged and in an effort to save their winter range and ranch house Steve Hammond started a backfire. That backfire not only saved their range and home, it put out the lightening generated fire that had already burned several thousand acres.

In response to this good work, BLM went to the local sheriff’s office the next day to file criminal charges against Steve for starting the backfire, calling it arson! The county DA reviewed the evidence and charges, determined they were unwarranted, and dropped all charges. However, in 2011 these incidents were dredged up again and the charge changed to Terrorism against both Dwight and Steven Hammond and, in June 2012, they were convicted. Even though the terrorism law prescribed a minimum sentence of five years the judge cited the Eighth Amendment and gave Dwight three months and Steven twelve. They began serving their sentences January 4, 2013. Dwight was released in March 2013 and Steven in January 2014.

All of this was a serious miscarriage of justice, but at least everyone thought it had ended, but that was not to be. In June 2014 the BLM Field Manager and the Manager of the Malheur Refuge, exemplifying the vindictiveness of the BLM in all this – I am tempted to say the vendetta – appealed to the Ninth District Federal Court to have the Hammonds returned to prison to serve the entire five years; astoundingly, that court concurred and “re-sentenced” both to several more years in prison. Further, they were forced to give BLM the right of first refusal; if they ever sell the ranch, they will have to sell it to BLM!

The Hammonds will report to prison on Monday, January 4 2015. To make things even worse they still have half of a $400,000 debt to the BLM that must be paid immediately; if they cannot pay, as seems probable, they will face additional prosecution … or finally be forced to sell the ranch.

And so, we have people breaking the law by occupying the Malheur Headquarters building to protest the way the BLM has harassed and persecuted a family trying to live their lives as they wish, in full accordance with the law. Whether or not their decision as to how to carry out that protest is wise or not, and I believe it is not, their motives for doing so have to be respected.

*Prescribed burns have been used for centuries. By safely reducing excessive amounts of brush, shrubs, and trees, encouraging the new growth of native vegetation, and maintaining the many plant and animal species whose habitats depend on periodic fire, prescribed burning helps reduce the catastrophic damage of wildfire on our lands and surrounding communities.

    Thank you! The truth has no agenda.

    I read this somewhere: Over the years of aggressive land acquisition by the BLM, the BLM redirected a stream and flooded some of the ranchers grazing land, those ranchers were forced to sell to the BLM. After the sale the water was returned to the original curse and the grass lands restored. And there is Uranium, natural gas, along with coal and other minerals under that land.

      Walker Evans in reply to betty. | January 4, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      The Federal Wildlife Service wanted to acquire ranch lands on the Silvies Plain to add to their already vast holdings, but the ranchers didn’t want to sell. Refuge personnel intentionally diverted a stream that bypassed the vast ranch meadows, directing that water into the Malheur Lakes, doubling the surface area of the lakes, and incidentally flooding thirty-one ranches on the Silvies plains. Ranch houses, livestock buildings, and grazing areas were inundated and destroyed.

      This broke the ranchers who were left with no choice but to sell their now basically worthless land to the FWS. After the FWS had the land that they wanted they ‘adjusted’ the stream flow again and the waters began receding.

      The ranches that had thrived on the Silvies Plain under private ownership are now part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Which was the FWS plan when they diverted that stream in the first place.

    grazing was detrimental to wildlife and must be reduced I read that was bs..and that wildlife was thriving on the grazing property. Whenever I hear about the DOJ stepping in I feel sick. Thank you for the summary.

      Yep. BS. BLM’s own reporting shows that wildlife chooses — by a margin of 13- or 14-to-1 — to stay on private land used for grazing cattle.

      Which makes sense: cattle means cattle manure, which means increased insect activity, which is a primary food source for many of the same species of migratory birds BLM claims to be trying to protect. Cattle manure also means fertilizer for the meadows and grasses, which means healthier plant life for the entire ecosystem. The movement of cattle herds also aerates the soil, which further benefits all kinds of plant and animal species.

      Proper ranch and cattle management practices are good for the whole area. Like you said: BS.

    Milhouse in reply to Walker Evans. | January 4, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    This is their version of events. The government has a very different story, that the Hammonds deliberately set a fire on federal land, to cover up the fact that they’d been slaughtering deer there. None of us knows which story is true. A jury believed the government’s story, but that’s not a great reason why we must believe it too; nevertheless we have no reason to believe the Hammonds’ story. We can have suspicions one way or another, and we can certainly say that none of this should have happened in the first place. We can agree with the trial judge that the 5-year sentence shocks the conscience. But anyone who claims to know that the Hammonds are entirely in the right needs to explain how they know.

    Meanwhile there is simply no excuse for occupying a federal facility 30 miles away.

Subotai Bahadur | January 3, 2016 at 7:39 pm

Throwing this into the mix. I am a member of a Prep group here in Colorado, and we have a strong contingent of Oathkeepers in our group, including some who normally do respond to situations such as this. That includes the miners up in Oregon, and the Bundy Ranch. Yesterday morning they briefed us at the meeting [to be honest, we had not heard of the Hammond case] as to what had happened till then [this is before the building was seized] and why they were not there.

The Hammond family was offered support by Oathkeepers and declined. They intend to fight this through the courts, which is their right and choice. Stewart Rhodes, who heads Oathkeepers passed the word for Oathkeepers to stand down in this matter, as have most Constitutional Militias.

After Bundy Ranch, I had the honor of meeting and having lunch with one of the 3% leaders there. He described a number of incidents, one of which involved supposed “militia” people who were trying to provoke violent confrontation with the Federales and had to be sat on a few times. Their actions seemed to be coordinated with things the Federales were doing. According to the Oathkeepers at our meeting, many of the same people have turned up at Hammond Ranch. They claim past military and current militia affiliation that is . . . questionable. Not all, but some of those there.

Note please that I support the Hammonds, and have the deepest respect for the Bundy family.

I, personally, think the provocateurs noted above are actively working for DHS. If anything happens, it is probably a false flag by the regime. I suspect strongly that their immediate goal is to create incidents and an atmosphere supporting the decrees against the Second Amendment that Buraq Hussein says he is going to issue next week.

If anything happens, investigate before drawing conclusions.

Subotai Bahadur

    Subotai Bahadur in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | January 3, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    UPDATE: The Hammond Family has just announced that the “militia” holding the BLM building are NOT affiliated with them. That, along with reports that they are moving children into the building makes me believe even more strongly that this is a Federal false flag. I think the Feds want another Waco, dead kids and all.

    Subotai Bahadur

    MarlaHughes in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | January 4, 2016 at 10:29 am

    I actively oppose and expose as false conspiracy theories. However, in this case, there are too many factors not to consider the probability of an agent provocateur inside Ammon Bundy’s inner circle.
    Obama’s making a major gun control speech centering on the so called ‘gun show loop hole’ that has been advertised and promoted quite a bit.
    The Hammonds do not support Ammon Bundy’s actions.
    His own father does not.
    Ammon Hammond’s plans are not to ‘occupy’ the wildlife refuge but to homestead it, creating his own little fiefdom for the foreseeable future. Who convinced him that that’s a good idea?

    And all this happens to be coming to a head at the same time Obama is meeting with his AG to determine what EOs he can sign concerning “gun control”?

    Yeah, the strong possibility of agent provocateurs has crossed my mind, too.

    Hal Jordan in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | January 4, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Harney County Sheriff David Ward spoke directly to the armed group during a Monday afternoon news conference.

    “It’s time for you to leave our community. Go home to your families. End this peacefully,” Ward said.

    Sheriff David Ward said protesters came to Harney County, in southeastern Oregon, “claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers.” In reality, he said, “these men had alternative motives to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

    Rep. Cliff Bentz, of House District 60 which represents Burns, Ore. — the nearest town — said “There is certainly always a place for peaceful protest, and I think that this is what Harney County residents who participated in Saturday’s parade believe they were doing as they marched.”

    “I also think that the sheriff and the county and the city are all doing all that they can to manage the Bundy’s self-serving attention grabbing efforts in a way that prevents Harney County from becoming a rallying cry for every anti-government person in America.”

To Aleister:
Would you condone this if this were the Huey P Newton gun club?

That gives a pretty good summation of the issues, including a handy chart of Federal ownership of lands.

There is NO Constitutional provision for ownership of lands like we have in the modern era, and for an excellent reason: the Founders knew that ownership of land was power, and they intended the central government to be powerless EXCEPT in a very few, specified areas.

The Sagebrush Rebellion is decades old, and very serious to the people of the Western states.

I’m generally sympathetic to any group that stands up to our brutish and overbearing federal government but this group needs to do a better job getting the back story out.

legalizehazing | January 3, 2016 at 9:09 pm

Appreciate the write up.

Here’s a fantastic wholistic article on the whole story with the Ammon family

    Milhouse in reply to legalizehazing. | January 5, 2016 at 1:14 am

    See, this is what I meant in my earlier comment to Rags. The article at, as well as giving the Hammonds’ side of the story as if it were the complete truth, trots out that nutty theory about the Exclusive Legislation clause, thus discrediting everything else it says.

As someone who has talked with members of various Patriot groups,in leadership positions,the general consensus is Payne and Blaine are ATF/FBI agent provocateurs.They are big followers of A.Jones,who is also thought by most sane people to also be an agent provocateur.The timing of this(right before obamas illegal gun EO)is very suspicious.I wonder if Obama wants his own Reichstag fire?

2nd Ammendment Mother | January 4, 2016 at 11:17 am

As strange as it sounds there may be something with the rumors regarding the Uranium. I live on the Texas Oklahoma border where the BLM is attempting to seize land that has been held for nearly a hundred years with properly surveyed and titled boundaries. As a resolution to the problem, US Congressman Thornberry proposed and passed a bill that guarantees that the landowners deeds are upheld and not infringed by the BLM.

(This is where things get interesting). Upon passage of Thornberry’s bill, the White House issued a statement that the President would be vetoing the bill. This is a tiny little bill about a handful of counties and landowners in Texas that should be fairly inconsequential and it garners a rather passionate opposition statement from the White House.

The “uranium rumor” regarding the Harmond’s land would normally be something I’d blow off except for a guy who showed up on my neighbor’s pastureland – across the road – last week. Since my neighbor works as a firefighter, we help keep an eye on his property while he’s on shift. When we spotted this guy unloading 4-wheelers and equipment, we thought he was planning to illegally hunt along the creek so we texted the neighbor and the game warden. We later learned that this guy was out sampling for………….. Uranium.

My family has lived in this area for nearly 120 years. There is a very well known oil basin just south of our farms but it is mostly played out and even the fracking folks aren’t very interested in investing in it. Where we live going north to the river has only been farm and grazing land and my neighbor and I are a few miles from the land the BLM has suddenly developed an interest in seizing.

The situations with the Harmond’s and Bundy’s and many more situations involving the BLM cropping up around the country have been a steady long term encroachment by the government, but it seems like they’re escalating lately. I have to admit, this administration has made Tin Hat theories much more reasonable than in the past.

First of all, the charges against Hammond and his son covered five different fires which the Hammonds started between 2001 and 2006. Guilty verdicts were handed down for only two of those fires, the one in 2001 which burned over 100 acres of leased grazing land and another in 2006 which did a similar amount of damage. Interestingly, the jury apparently did not buy the Hammonds’ claim that these were all accidents. Possibly, the fact that the Hammonds had similar accidents several times over a period of 10 years had something to do with that.

Now, the terrorism charges are unquestionably out of line. However, the original trial judge handed the Hammond’s their current problem when he ignored the minimum sentencing requirements. He should have known that he had no authority to deviate from the prescribed sentence and that it would be overturned on appeal, which it was. If the judge had made the same statements that he made at the sentencing, but then imposed the minimum mandatory sentence, the Hammonds would have had grounds to appeal the applicability of the terrorism statute, to their case, and had the sentence, and possibly the verdict, set aside, and a more reasonable sentence impose. That did not happen and now the Hammonds are faced with a limited window to appeal the sentence.

What the armed demonstrators are doing is essentially armed insurrection against the United States of America. Now, since the 1960s, this country has given an enormous amount of leeway to “political” demonstrations. However, seizing public lands and buildings and threatening government agents, while under arms, is going to eventually cause violent enforcement action.

    Interestingly, the jury apparently did not buy the Hammonds’ claim that these were all accidents.

    Why would they? Every source I’ve read said the Hammonds freely admitted to intentionally setting the fires as a controlled “back-burn”, which is a very old wildfire management practice.

    Now, the judge in the original trial didn’t allow the defense to present evidence or testimony of such land- or ranch-management practices, and didn’t allow anyone on the jury who would know of those things. (The best analogy I can come up with is, you admit you shot and killed someone, but the judge doesn’t allow testimony or evidence of self-defense, and installs a jury exclusively filled with members of anti-gun groups. Of course you’re found guilty of murder!) The judge also did not allow the jury to hear/know the penalty for “arson” under the “terrorism” statutes (min. 5 years, max. death), so they couldn’t properly weigh the verdict.

    But absent any exculpatory reasoning or justification, since the Hammonds admitted to setting the fires, of course they were found guilty!

      Milhouse in reply to Archer. | January 5, 2016 at 1:19 am

      Now, the judge in the original trial didn’t allow the defense to present evidence or testimony of such land- or ranch-management practices, and didn’t allow anyone on the jury who would know of those things.

      May I ask how you know this? Is it in the trial transcript? In reliable contemporary news reports?

        2nd Ammendment Mother in reply to Milhouse. | January 5, 2016 at 1:03 pm

        Several outlets have noted that the defense was allowed 1 day and all expert witnesses for the defense on land management practices were disallowed by the judge. Documentation that the controlled burns improved the health and safety of that specific acreage was also disallowed.

          Who are these “several outlets”? Are you referring to reliable news sources, or to “patriot movement” blogs that unquestioningly parrot whatever paranoid rumor they heard on the grapevine, or dreamed of last night?

    2nd Ammendment Mother in reply to Mac45. | January 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Do you have a visual concept of how small of an area 100 acres is? My neighbor’s pasture is 158 acres and I can see all four corners of it from my front porch without straining. We’re discussing an area the size of 1 good sized city block. Let that sink in on you.