Occupation in Oregon wildlife refuge by out-of-state militia is futile

Over the past few weeks in a rural area of Southeastern Oregon, a small militia force has been grabbing international attention with their armed occupation of a national wildlife refuge. It is apparently over the disputed land rights of local ranchers and hunters, and fighting against the oppression of the federal government towards the people who live there.

Believe me, I’m all for a good wild-west style anti-federalization romp. I understand the timeless struggle of the worker for his freedoms against the oppressive bureaucrats who come and try to bring their laws to the land, no matter how ironically communist this may sound coming from right-wing rural Americans. But against what mainstream media may be selling, this doesn’t seem to be the case at all.

According to The Oregonian, the original dispute was between the Hammonds, a family of cattle ranchers, and the federal government over public land use rights involving their cattle grazing, and an arson charge over the burning of brush in land adjacent to theirs. While burning fields and brush is a legitimate practice in the right situations as many in rural areas already know, the US Department of Justice reports that in 2001, Dwight and Steven Hammond ignited fires on lands managed by the US Bureau of Land Management after illegally killing deer with a hunting party.

Enter men with guns. A last stand by the Hammonds against a failed justice system? Fellow neighboring ranchers and townsfolk who are ready to show the world how bad they’ve been abused? A group of Oregonians at least?

Not quite any of the above. The self-proclaimed “Citizens for Constitutional Freedom,” started by a rancher from Nevada named Ammon Bundy, appear to be a group assembled for the sole purpose of forming a group and finding somewhere to take a stand. On Jan. 2, the group occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon. Photos show men armed with carbines, covered in army surplus gear and painted with hunters camouflage patrolling and riding on horses, waving American flags and spewing confused political rhetoric.

While the armed group may have gained a few local recruits in their long occupation, Dwight Hammond’s close family definitely don’t want anything to do with it. They have completely distanced themselves from the operation. One of the Hammonds, in an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting stated she wasn’t even sure the purpose of the militia anymore. According to PBS, during a townhall meeting, the residents themselves voiced their support for the occupants to leave, regardless of whatever cause the militia claimed to be behind.

Mainstream American media and conversation seems to bring in legitimate issues such as rancher land use, racial discrimination by police forces, and the question of the word terrorist when addressing issues of armed domestic insurgents such as these.

In this case however, we’re giving these fools with guns too much credit and law enforcement not enough.

Even having a discussion about the matter gives these people a platform for their threats and guns. If we as a whole ignored these wannabe soldiers, they’d probably get bored that there are no cameras pointed at them and eventually head home after they got too cold. Violence is not an appropriate method of protest when everyone else is being peaceful.

Furthermore, the common criticism found online of law enforcement’s comparatively passive reaction to these people because they are white is an overgeneralization just as bad as racism itself. No real violence has been conducted yet, and as many of us probably believe too, why go in with guns blazing and take the life of a police officer when they will very probably walk off themselves when they realize how stupid their cause is. As far as we know up to this point, the militia seem to just be showing off their fancy rifles and camouflage as a show of intimidation — something that isn’t too uncommon in rural USA. There’s no need to create violence where there wasn’t going to be any in the end anyway.

In the end, it’s most important to realize that in our modern society, armed occupations deserve nothing more than scrutiny. Giving those with guns the publicity they desire may seem harmless, but it sets a dangerous precedent for motivating similar groups in the future and even, as was the case here, can have little or nothing to do with those involved at the core of the real issues at hand.


  1. Do Not Worry Folks! Dangerous weirdoes with Guns will get Free memberships in Federal Prisons New program called the “Corn Hole Club” . Free food, clean bed, and free complimentary Prison Sex !!
    Maybe even get government Condoms !! So Relax. keep paying those Taxes !! Or, if you just despise welfare bums, Join !!, walk into any Federal Building with an assault rifle, and IF you live through that, you will be “Invited” to join in a wide variety of “Sports”! All Free !! Except for the assault rifle and ammo, those are (sold on a “as needed” basis). So Join Up ! You Crazy White People !!

  2. Futile, hell no, wait until those lonesome prisoners get a hold of these weirdos, Prison Sex !! Yehaa!! Futile! ha ha ha ….

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