What Would Happen if the Armed Men in Oregon Weren’t White?

The progress from Western colonial global expansion, and the construction of American wealth and industry on the backs of enslaved Blacks and Native peoples, followed by the abrupt "emancipation" of the slaves and their exodus from the South to the Northern cities, has led us to our current divided society. Divided by economic inequities and unequal access to social resources, the nation lives in a media dream of social harmony, or did until YouTube set its bed on fire. Now, it is common knowledge that our current system of brutal racist policing and punitive over-incarceration serves the dual purpose of maintaining racial prejudice and the inequities it justifies. Brief yourself on this late-breaking development in American history here.

What Would Happen if the Armed Men in Oregon Weren’t White?

Postby admin » Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:05 pm

What Would Happen if the Armed Men in Oregon Weren’t White?
By Ruth Milka
January 5, 2016

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When a group of armed African-Americans had a standoff with police they were shot at and bombed regardless of the repercussions.

The situation in Oregon, where armed white men have taken over a federal wildlife refuge building most likely in the hopes of a confrontation with federal authorities, has caused many to wonder if there is a racial bias within both the media and the government.

Comparisons and accusations flew after news broke that a group of armed men had taken protest to the next level by taking over the Malheaur Wildlife Refuge, a federal building, in Oregon. Most notably, people online began to ask questions like “Where’s the National Guard?” and “Where is all the media coverage?” referencing the protests in Baltimore last year when the National Guard was called in after the death of Freddie Gray.

In the ongoing Oregon standoff not much as been done other than closing local schools, warning the public not to go into the area, and the FBI cooperating with local law enforcement.

Yet, 30 years ago a similar standoff happened between an anti-government group of African-Americans and police. This situation resulted in the group, called MOVE, being bombed and burned alive.

In the 1970s and 1980s, members of the liberation group MOVE had similar sentiments towards government control as the armed men in Oregon have today. They sought “a natural lifestyle, free of government control, law enforcement, and technology.” The lived in a barricaded house and were animal rights activists.

In 1978, police were ordered to evict MOVE members from a home in Philadelphia and then bulldoze it. When police stormed the building a shootout resulted in the death of one police officer, James J. Ramp. Nine members of MOVE were convicted of his murder and still remain in jail.

Years later, in May of 1985, remaining MOVE members had taken up residence in a different home. After receiving several complaints from neighbors about blow-horn noise and smell from the garbage, the police showed up to evict them. Officers initially threw tear gas into the house, which was answered with gunfire from an unknown shooter. Instead of choosing any other possible option, officers fired 10,000 rounds into the house, followed by explosives, and finally a bomb from a helicopter. This was all without knowing the situation inside the house. The bomb caused a fire that spread to 65 homes. 250 people were displaced. Five children and six adults were killed from the group, with one woman and one child left alive.

The lone adult survivor, Romona Africa, told Democracy Now! that they attempted to leave the house but could not because of they were “met with a barrage of police gunfire.”

Years later, in 1996, Africa was paid a settlement, along with MOVE leader John Africa and John’s nephew. Parents of the five children killed also received a settlement from the city, as well as relatives of the other adult victims.

So why is it that a situation where a group of African Americans, who are residing in their own residence, results in a bombing but no charges for the city officials who ordered it? But a situation with a group of armed white men forcefully taking over a federal building and publicly stating they will not rule out violence, results in negotiations with law enforcement?

According to ThinkProgress, although there have been isolated instances where violence was used against white extremists, there is a disproportionate amount of black people who have been penalized for using guns in self-defense situations. Studies also show police are more likely to use physical force against African Americans.
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Re: What Would Happen if the Armed Men in Oregon Weren’t Whi

Postby admin » Thu Jan 21, 2016 3:56 am

Wise Use? How the Oregon Militia are Servants of Corporate Power
By Derek Royden
January 20, 2016

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Ammon Bundy speaks to the media as the leader of a group of armed anti-government protesters who have taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters near Burns, Oregon, January 4, 2016. The FBI on January 4 sought a peaceful end to the occupation by armed anti-government militia members at a US federal wildlife reserve in rural Oregon, as the standoff entered its third day. The loose-knit band of farmers, ranchers and survivalists -- whose action was sparked by the jailing of two ranchers for arson -- said they would not rule out violence if authorities stormed the site, although federal officials said they hope to avoid bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / ROB KERRROB KERR/AFP/Getty Images

The funny thing about the Malheur occupiers is that while most describe themselves as limited government conservatives they are essentially demanding welfare for their cattle.

“I happen to be one who cheers and supports the Sagebrush Rebellion. Count me in as a rebel.”
-- Ronald Reagan, 1980


They call themselves “Citizens for Constitutional Freedom” and they probably thought that they were lighting the match that would spread a fire of anti-government revolt across the American west when they occupied the Malheur Federal Wildlife Refuge at the beginning of this year. Instead, they’ve spent weeks hunkered down in the freezing cold Oregon winter, sending pleas over social media for snacks and other necessities.

As it stands, we don’t know whether the heavily armed occupiers will face any legal consequences for their actions (although one, aged 62, was recently arrested for using a US Fish and Wildlife vehicle to go shopping for groceries). These include ripping down fences to allow cattle to graze on land set aside for the pleasure of bird watchers and hikers.

The county puts the cost for local taxpayers at $60,000 to $70,000 a day, including increased security for residents of the area and the closure of local schools throughout the occupation. The same report puts the cost to federal taxpayers at just under $120,000 per week.

Some have called for federal police to meet the occupiers with force but similar situations in the past have shown that this kind of reaction almost always ends in tragedy. The people at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas may have been unhinged but their children (23 of them) certainly didn’t deserve to be burned alive any more than Tamir Rice deserved to be gunned down for playing in a park with a toy gun. While it can sometimes seem like police tactics are beyond reform, the subsequent standoff with the Montana Freemen militia in 1996 ended peacefully, proving that this doesn’t have to be the case.

The Hammonds and the Bundys

The occupation began on January 2nd when the would-be insurgents descended on the Refuge after a peaceful rally in the nearby town of Burns. The initial protest was over the return of local ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond to federal prison on arson charges. Dwight, the elder Hammond, has played a role in what supporters call the “Wise Use” movement since at least the 1980s repeatedly threatening federal officials with violence in disputes over grazing rights for his cattle.

Supporters of the two men, including many of their neighbors, complain that they’ve been punished too harshly for fires they set that damaged federal lands. Both had already served time but they were sent back to prison when an appeal by the prosecutor led a higher court to impose the mandatory minimum of five years on both. The first fire was apparently set to cover up poaching on federal land and the second, which endangered firemen fighting nearby brush fires, was meant to protect their property from the wild-fires that plague the region each summer.

Bolstering the Hammonds’ case, the name of the 1996 law that they were prosecuted under is ridiculously Orwellian: the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Still, 5 years for arson that risked lives seems less unreasonable when looking at the vast numbers of Americans who get much longer sentences for nonviolent drug crimes

Ammon Bundy, one of the leaders of the Malheur occupation, is the son of Cliven Bundy who became famous in 2014 for standing down Bureau of Land Management (BLM) authorities in southeastern Nevada. His victory, backed up by similarly armed militia, inspired a small resurgence in the Wise Use and, even more, radical County Rights movements. Just as he was being lionized by the right wing press he committed suicide by media, wondering aloud if African Americans weren’t “better off” under slavery.

The younger Bundy and his followers say they are fighting for the US Constitution, a noble goal in its way, although tarnished by the prejudice shown by some members of the group. It’s more likely they are earnest dupes, pushing an agenda that will only make them and their lifestyle even less relevant over time

Who Really Profits?

The most likely winners if the ranchers and their militia allies get their way and the federal lands are returned to the states are oil, timber and other extractive industries. Little mentioned in the reporting on all of this is the fact that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has already had their model legislation regarding the return of public lands passed in seven states, igniting what will most likely be costly legal battles that may see some of them sold to the highest bidder.

The ranchers, who already benefit from the low cost of grazing on most federal lands, seem to believe that these areas will simply be handed over to them if they revert to the states. They are also very selective in terms of their reading of the history that led to their current struggle against federal ownership of western lands and the powerful corporate forces like ALEC and Americans for Prosperity (both funded by the Koch brothers, Exxon and others) that are helping to shape it.

Most of the public land that remains in the United States is in western states like Nevada, which has the largest amount, accounting for more than 80% of its total area (in Oregon it is just over 50%). Although originally set aside for homesteading in the 19th century (after the previous indigenous residents had been removed) most of these lands were desert or sagebrush and weren’t sustainable for such farming over the long term.

As a result, the federal government eventually held millions of acres across several states with no one to claim them. In 1932, President Hoover actually tried to turn most of this land over but his offer was rejected, with state authorities claiming that most of it was already over-grazed and that it would be an additional burden to absorb any potential costs from the transfers with the Great Depression in full swing.

Disputes with ranchers, miners and others continued on and off until 1976 when passage of Federal Land Policy and Management Act led to what came to be called the Sagebrush Rebellion. When Ronald Reagan, who declared his sympathy for the movement on the campaign trail, was elected President in 1980, the ranchers and their allies believed they had won the fight and the federal lands would soon be transferred to the states.

Upon taking office however, Reagan’s staff, including his Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, were unable to move forward in selling off some the land to pay down the federal deficit. As Ron Arnold, who wrote a biography of the former Secretary of the Interior explains, “…Watt and the others discovered that you can’t sell off what you don’t own. If you try to auction off pieces of ‘public’ property, you can’t do it because ownership is split. There are so many stratifications you could never figure out who really owned what. So notions of ownership looked more and more like commons than a capital asset.”

One of the strongest arguments for keeping these lands in federal hands is economic and shows the hypocrisy of ALEC and its funders. According to a 2013 estimate, the Department of the Interior, responsible for overseeing the US’s public lands, “contributed $360 billion to the U.S. economy, supporting over 2 million jobs across the country.” Many of these jobs are in economically depressed rural areas where the majority of these federal lands are located.

The funny thing about the Malheur occupiers is that while most describe themselves as limited government conservatives they are essentially demanding welfare for their cattle. At the same time, with a few outliers, they ignore the plight of minority communities often denied the right to life and liberty, let alone the pursuit of happiness, that their beloved Constitution is supposed to guarantee to all.

Since this document created a nation of laws that came to be admired and emulated throughout the world, these wannabe cowboys who so often invoke it should be willing to face the consequences of their actions and make their arguments in the courts. Federal lands are pretty much all that is left of the commons in most western countries and their continued protection benefits all citizens. The truth is that corporate interests, supported by groups like ALEC, are far more dangerous than “Americans for Constitutional Freedom” could ever hope to be.
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Re: What Would Happen if the Armed Men in Oregon Weren’t Whi

Postby admin » Fri Feb 12, 2016 6:41 am

Oregon Sheriff Meets Ammon Bundy, Greets Him With Handshake Not Handcuffs
By Judd Legum
January 9, 2016

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Bundy has been leading an illegal armed occupation of a federal building for almost a week.

On Thursday, Harney County, Oregon Sheriff Dave Ward met Ammon Bundy in a remote area near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Bundy has been leading an illegal armed occupation of a federal building for almost a week. But Ward greeted Bundy with a firm handshake instead of handcuffs.

Beth Nakamura ✔ @bethnakamura
Sheriff Ward meets with Ammon Bundy just now http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-north ... _big-photo … #Oregonstandoff
4:46 PM - 7 Jan 2016


Bundy and his crew have threatened to kill law enforcement officials who attempt to intervene. Ward refused to meet with Bundy at the refuge headquarters the militia is occupying “mindful of a tall watch tower that is manned round the clock by the protesters.”

Ward reached out to Bundy to arrange the meeting, where he encouraged Bundy and his militia to leave town. Bundy also offered to provide protection for the militia as they left town, suggesting they could leave the state without being charged with any crime. “I’m here to offer safe escort out, go back and kick it around with your folks,” Ward said.

Notably, Ward “said the militants weren’t asked to come unarmed.” He also promised “no protester appearing at the meeting would be arrested.”

The clear effort by Ward to deescalate the situation and avoid unnecessary loss of life is, in many ways, admirable. Still, the treatment of armed militants conducting an illegal occupation in Oregon differs greatly from the response to overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations by unarmed individuals protesting police misconduct.

In Ferguson, for example, protesters were met by police with military-style equipment, full riot gear, and tear gas:

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Police Shooting Missouri
CREDIT: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel


In response to Ward’s extraordinary offer, Bundy gave Ward a lecture on the constitution. After five minutes or so, the two men got back into their respective vehicles and drove away.

Back at the refuge Bundy told the media that he was rejecting Ward’s offer and planned to remain at the refuge indefinitely.
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Re: What Would Happen if the Armed Men in Oregon Weren’t Whi

Postby admin » Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:10 am

Leader of Oregon Militia Arrested, One Killed
By Alexandra Jacobo
January 27, 2016

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After a shooting altercation with police, six members of the militia group occupying the Malheaur National Refuge were taken into custody. Ammon Bundy, rancher Clive Bundy’s son and the leader of the group, was among them.

One militant was killed in the shootout and one sustained “non life-threatening” injuries and was taken to the hospital. The identity of the deceased has not been officially released, but is rumored to be Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, who previously stated in an interview that he was willing to die for his interpretation of the constitution and that he has “no intention of spending any of [my] days in a concrete box.”

The confrontation happened early Tuesday evening when the group was on their way to a meeting in a neighboring town.

In addition to Ammon and Ryan Bundy, Ryan W. Payne, Brian Cavalier, and Shawna J. Cox were also arrested. The official charges are felony counts of impeding officers of the U.S. from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats.

The hospital where the militia members were taken for treatment is on lockdown, as is the section of highway where the shootout occurred.

The FBI released the following statement:

ARRESTS MADE IN THE OCCUPATION OF THE MALHEUR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE: JOINT STATEMENT BY THE FBI AND OSP
News Release from FBI - Oregon
January 26, 2016

At approximately 4:25 p.m. (PST) on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Oregon State Police (OSP) began an enforcement action to bring into custody a number of individuals associated with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. During that arrest, there were shots fired.

One individual who was a subject of a federal probable cause arrest is deceased. We will not be releasing any information about that person pending identification by the medical examiner's office.

One individual suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. He was arrested and is currently in custody.

The arrested individuals include:

 Ammon Edward Bundy, age 40, of Emmett, Idaho
 Ryan C. Bundy, age 43, of Bunkerville, Nevada
 Brian Cavalier, age 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada
 Shawna Cox, age 59, Kanab
 Ryan Waylen Payne, age 32, of Anaconda, Montana

These probable cause arrests occurred along Highway 235.

In a separate event in Burns, Oregon, at approximately 5:50 pm, Oregon State Police arrested the following individual:

 Joseph Donald O'Shaughnessy, age 45, Cottonwood, Arizona

All of the named defendants face a federal felony charge of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372.

We continue to work with Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward and his deputies; Oregon State Police; and the United States Attorney's Office to address any further outstanding issues. As the investigation is ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time.

All defendants should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Brent Weisberg ✔ @BrentKOIN
BREAKING: FBI statement confirms Ammon Bundy in custody. http://koin.com/2016/01/26/malheur-mili ... -01262016/ … #KOIN6News #Oregonstandoff
7:58 PM - 26 Jan 2016


FBI Arrests All Remaining Occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
FBI Portland
February 11, 2016

At approximately 9:40 a.m. (Pacific) on Thursday, February 11, 2016, the FBI brought three of the remaining Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers into custody without incident. At approximately 11:00 a.m., agents brought the fourth into custody without incident.

 Sean Larry Anderson, age 47, of Riggins, Idaho
 Sandra Lynn Anderson, age 48, of Riggins, Idaho
 Jeff Wayne Banta, age 46, of Yerington, Nevada
 David Lee Fry, age 27, of Blanchester, Ohio

No one was injured, and no shots were fired. Thursday marks day 41 of the occupation of the refuge.

Agents arrested the remaining four occupiers as they walked out of the refuge to the FBI checkpoint. Those arrested will face arraignment before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Portland on Friday, February 12, 2016.

At times, there were dozens of highly armed militants occupying, visiting and supplying the refuge.

On Wednesday, February 3, 2016, a federal grand jury indicted 16 people:

 Dylan Wade Anderson, age 34, of Provo, Utah
 Sandra Lynn Anderson, age 48, of Riggins, Idaho
 Sean Larry Anderson, age 47, of Riggins, Idaho
 Jeff Wayne Banta, age 46, of Yerington, Nevada
 Ammon Edward Bundy, age 40, of Emmett, Idaho
 Ryan C. Bundy, age 43, of Bunkerville, Nevada
 Brian Cavalier, age 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada
 Shawna Cox, age 59, Kanab, Utah
 Duane Leo Ehmer, age 45, of Irrigon, Oregon
 David Lee Fry, age 27, of Blanchester, Ohio
 Kenneth Medenbach, age 62, of Crescent, Oregon
 Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, age 45, of Cottonwood, Arizona
 Jason S. Patrick, age 43, of Bonaire, Georgia
 Ryan Waylen Payne, age 32, of Anaconda, Montana
 Jon Eric Ritzheimer, age 32, Peoria, Arizona
 Peter Santilli, age 50, of Cincinnati, Ohio

Each subject faces one federal felony count of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 372.

All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“The occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge has been a long and traumatic episode for the citizens of Harney County and the members of the Burns Paiute tribe. It is a time for healing, reconciliation amongst neighbors and friends, and allowing for life to get back to normal. I want to thank our neighbors in eastern Oregon for their patience, resolve, and their kind and welcoming spirit to the many members of federal, county, state, local, and tribal law enforcement who have worked tirelessly to bring this illegal occupation to a conclusion. The fine work of so many dedicated public servants in a difficult endeavor cannot be understated. I am very proud of them all,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney, District of Oregon.

“Much work is left to assess the crime scene and damage to the refuge and tribal artifacts. We are committed to seeing the job done and to pursue justice for the crimes committed during the illegal occupation.”

The FBI will release more information about the law enforcement work that still remains to be done at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge later in the day.


At this point, some militia members still remain at the wildlife refuge.
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