Militiamen, ranchers in showdown for soul of Burns, OR

BURNS – The strangers carrying the whisper of danger arrived in the vast territory of the Harney Basin just before the holidays. Ammon Bundy once helped his father repulse the government in an armed showdown on a Nevada desert. He was Tasered for his effort. Ryan Payne, an electrician from Montana, joined that same standoff and boasted of organizing civilians into sniper squads that drew a bead on federal agents. And not long ago, Jon Ritzheimer worried the FBI with his threatening rants against Muslims in Arizona and elsewhere. Now, the men say, they are in Burns to help Dwight and Steven Hammond. The Hammonds are father and son ranchers, due to report to federal prison on Monday. They were convicted in 2012 of arson for lighting public land on fire adjacent to their ranch land south of Burns. They have been imprisoned once and must return for an additional term after federal appellate judges said they had been illegally sentenced the first time. Self-styled patriots and militiamen gathering in Burns don’t want that to happen, declaring the Hammonds’ imprisonment illegal under the U.S. Constitution. They have latched on to the Hammonds as their latest cause to stand against the federal government. “I am here now trying to empower and motivate the people of this community to take a stand against tyranny and show them that I will gladly stand with them,” Ritzheimer said. The Hammonds don’t want to be part of the outsiders’ cause, and neither do many in Harney County. But that hasn’t stopped the strangers from summoning help from militia groups across the country. They are vague about their intention and their plans, unsettling the community and putting law enforcement on edge. The militia plan a rally and a parade on Saturday, circling the county courthouse that houses the sheriff’s office. The militia members have been insisting that Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward create a sanctuary so the Hammonds will be immune from surrendering. Ward met with the militiamen and rejected that demand. The militia has since labeled him an “enemy of the people.” Ward said he has received emailed death threats among thousands of messages from across the country regarding the Hammonds. Two weeks ago, Bundy and Payne roused 60 or so local citizens to their cause at a community meeting. They rented the Memorial Building at the fairgrounds for the night. They taped themselves lecturing the locals on their rights, on the Constitution, and on their duty to protect themselves. The Harney County situation is the second time this year Oregon has been the national rallying point for militias. Last spring, miners fighting with the Bureau of Land Management over paperwork outside Medford found themselves enveloped with militia defenders. The miners finally issued a plea for militia members to go home. The militiamen did – but only after claiming they beat back the government. An administrative law judge temporarily stopped BLM action against the miners. But the activists carrying pocket editions of the Constitution with them to Harney County are better known for the spectacle in Nevada in spring 2014. The BLM was the bogeyman there too. Nevada showdown Militiamen by the hundreds flowed to Nevada that year to help rancher Cliven Bundy. The BLM was corralling his cattle that it said were trespassing on public land. The agency said Bundy hadn’t paid grazing fees for 20 years, amassing more than $1 million in bills. Payne, an Army veteran, came to the rancher’s defense. In later interviews, Payne said he was the “militia adviser” to Bundy. Payne helped array armed civilians against the federal agents. “We had counter-sniper positions on their sniper positions. We had at least one guy—sometimes two guys—per BLM agent in there,” Payne told a Montana weekly, the Independent. “If they made one wrong move, every single BLM agent in that camp would’ve died.” Ammon Bundy, Cliven Bundy’s third son, was there too. As the nation watched, the BLM called off the cattle collection and withdrew in the face of the armed militia. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups across the country, said in a 2014 report on the Bundy standoff that the government’s retreat empowered the militiamen. Ryan Lenz with the law center was on the ground in Nevada and later interviewed Payne for the report. Lenz said the Harney County development isn’t surprising. “What’s happening is very much what everyone feared would happen in the aftermath of the Bundy standoff,” Lenz said. “The rule of law was suspended with the barrel of a gun.” Aiding the Hammonds Bundy and Payne say they met with both Dwight and Susan Hammond at their home in November. Bundy said he helped the ranchers move cows one day. The Hammonds initially accepted the militia’s offer of help to avoid prison, Bundy said. But the Hammonds changed their minds after being warned by federal prosecutors to stop communicating with the militia, Bundy wrote in a blog post. The Hammonds declined interview requests and didn’t respond to written questions about their dealings with the militiamen. A Boise lawyer representing the Hammonds said in a letter to the sheriff that Bundy didn’t speak for the ranchers and that they intended to surrender as required. Bundy and Payne and their associates are persisting, though. They explain in deliberate, calm tones their reasoning. The federal government claims title to most of the land in Harney County, the ninth largest county in the United States. Bundy and Payne maintain that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution limits what the federal government can own, and that the government’s claim to much of Harney County violates that limit. The federal government consequently has no authority to prosecute the Hammonds. Bundy and Payne, who said he has moved to Harney County, have pressed the matter on several fronts. They have insisted that Ward, the sheriff, protect the Hammonds. They have written other elected officials in the county and in Oregon asserting the same demand. Some residents have shown interest in the group’s cause. Locals voted seven of their own onto a new Harney County Committee of Safety, including ranchers, a retired fire chief, and a tax preparer. Payne and Bundy said the committee would decide how to address the Hammond conflict. But Bundy quickly created a website for the group and drafted a sharply-worded letter to the sheriff for the committee to issue.

And the story continues..  To read the rest of it, click on the text above.  Obviously, the reportet of this local Oregon rag is a liberal.  He cites the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) which has been discredited, and which calls organizations it doesn’t politically agree with, like evangelical Christians and the Tea Party, as “hate groups,” and yet it doesn’t have that same designation for the New Black Panther Party.  Yeah…exactly.  In the case of the Bundys in NV, they most definitely had a legitimate beef with the out-of-control, fascist BLM which showed up to bully the Bundys with armored vehicles, their own BLM paramilitary force complete with ARs, snipers, and so on.  All the BLM had to do was to knock on their door and say, “hey..  We have a court-directed document that says you need to pay this fine/back tax/grazing fee for your cattle…whatever.  And, then the Bundy’s could go to court and make their case there.  At MOST, they could have issued an arrest warrant and had the local sheriff arrest him and put him in the local county jail until his court date.  Even that would be WAY over the top.  But, NOOOOO..  The BLM nazis had to show up with this military armada, bully the little rancher, and intimidate him, tase his son and so on.  No wonder these militia guys showed up!  Don’t blame them one bit!  That is a textbook example of why we have our Second Amendment.  It’s not for hunting and target practice as the liberal politicians would have you believe.  It’s there so we can protect ourselves and our loved ones..and, to protect we-the-people against an out-of-control (federal or state) government.  And, if it ever came to it…to take that government back by force if it didn’t abide by the Constitution (and Bill of Rights) that it swore to uphold.  That’s the sorta thing that makes the establishment a little nervous…and why they are for gun control.  They don’t like an armed citizenry.  Neither did Hitler.

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