The leader of an armed militia who seized an Oregon wildlife refuge wants more recruits to hold down the fort, he said via Facebook video in his latest call-to-action.
The face of the group, Ammon Bundy, contends that his anti-government movement is just as passive as the peaceful rally that marched through Burns on Saturday, despite a desperate plea for volunteers to beef up security at a federal building.
“We also need more of a defense,” Bundy said in the video, shared Sunday night. “We need to make sure there’s enough people here so no one can come down upon us. That is a very real reality right now.”
The FBI has taken the lead in ending the takeover. If and when authorities decide to swoop in on Bundy’s base, he and his armed brethren are “absolutely” ready to fight back and open protected lands to local ranchers, miners, loggers and hunters.
Although local, state and federal authorities have not publicly announced plans to force the group out of the refuge, Harney County Sheriff David Ward said he is wary of Bundy’s motives. He believes the takeover is not in defense of two ranchers as Bundy claims, but actually a veiled attempt to “overthrow the county and federal government.”
Bundy has continued his expansion at the snow-blanketed militia base even as the cattle ranchers that inspired his stunt denied association with the demonstrations and made their way to San Pedro, Calif., to report to a federal prison.
Dwight Hammond Jr., 73, and his son, Steven Hammond, 46, were convicted of setting multiple fires to federal land neighboring their Diamond property. The father and son served a short sentence initially, but were slapped with a harsher four-year sentence to adhere to federal guidelines.
While Dwight Hammond is on his way to Los Angeles to begin that sentence, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting, it’s unclear if Hammond’s son, Stephen, is on his way as well.
The ranchers going to prison has had no apparent effect on Bundy’s militia, who have been gearing up to hunker down for the long haul. At least a dozen protesters have stocked a supply room with enough food and supplies to last “as long as it takes” at the wildlife refuge. There are a handful of buildings scattered near the refuge’s headquarters, which has been closed until further notice.
The Hammonds’ ongoing ordeal in Oregon apparently caught Bundy’s eye months after he joined his father, Cliven Bundy, at the Mormon patriarch’s Nevada ranch in 2014. Several of Bundy’s 14 children and armed protesters faced off with federal agents after Cliven Bundy refused to pay off more than a decade of cattle grazing fines.
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SOURCE: NY Daily News, Nicole Hensley