A Month of Militia for Oregon

William Byrd and David Mardakhayev, Reporters

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In a state known for its natural beauty, and diverse wild life, there was an intense standoff between the federal government and armed protesters. Though Oregon is neither close to our homes or hearts, the showdown that took place there raises a lot of questions on the management of public lands. The protesters claim that the federal government has been illegally stealing ranch land and that they turn all public land over to local officials. They have yet to put facts behind there accusations and defend their claims. The National Parks Service, Fish and Wild Life Preserve, and the Forest service are just a few local and national forces that protect and preserve American lands for future generations. They were established to preserve our land’s natural beauty and protect wild life and plants from the unforgiving engine of consumerism. These extremist are requesting that the government give these lands over for private use and deem that the facilities and land belong to the people- which they do. These lands are open to the people, but not to private enterprises that could prove incredibly harmful to creatures and plants that call these places home.

During the Gilded Age of America, industry boomed uninhibited by the laws and policies of the government that endorsed competition and protected the land from over use and pollution. Those young pioneers of industry decimated forest that had lasted for thousands of years. Excessive ranching led to the devouring of grassy valleys by thousands of cattle and sheep. The protesters want to return to this time of thoughtless destruction in the name of consumerism and greed. We have heard no other real evidence that their claims are correct, just all we’ve heard is that they have been wronged.

T group of “patriots” have decided to claim a government building and have remained there since late December. While the term government building sounds grand and important, it’s a wildlife refuge. The armed militia is attacking the government, as they feel the government is land-grabbing and overreaching. There are two main families involved in the conflict: The Bundys and the Hammonds. The Hammonds (Dwight, 73 and Steven, 46) were arrested and sentenced to time in prison for arson on federal property to reduce wildfires and intrusive plant life. After serving 3 months and a year, respectively, they have been brought back to court to receive a new sentence. The Bundys, the orchestrators of the siege are protesting the prosecution of the Hammonds.

Though the militia has mostly remained peaceful, there was recently a standoff in which police killed one member, LaVoy Finicum. The manner in which he died is under debate as of the time of this article- but different stories from different members of the group make the circumstances much more complicated. This aside, the standoff occurred after Finicum and another vehicle attempted to drive past a police road block. Guns were then drawn and shots were fired.

However, through all this, a conflict among Americans and new organizations has emerged: are they peaceful protesters or terrorists or thugs? Many news centers such as Fox and CNN have labeled the troop as “peaceful” or “armed protesters”. This however makes little sense as the group has made it clear that they are not afraid to fire at and kill police officers on “their” territory. Many believe news organizations have claimed this stance because of the issue of race. Across the United States, movements lacking weapons and violent means have been put down as thugs while any movement involving Muslim Americans is labeled terrorism almost immediately. The almost entirely white group has sustained little backlash from police and have maintained their ground for over a month. This is even after the main leader, Ammon Bundy and multiple other key members of the militia, have been detained.

With the problem not yet resolved, it is up to local police and government to handle the situation. These people have even lost support of their own kind, as farmers and the lower class see this as pointless and a waste of time. It’s only a matter of time until the reserve is raided and what is left of the resource-deficient revolutionaries is taken care of, and until then, America can just sit and wait… or focus on what policy Trump is trying to advocate next.

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