RAW STORY GOES INSIDE OR OCCUPATION, by Arun Gupta
On a Friday morning there was a traffic jam outside the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, renamed the "Harney County Resource Center" by armed militants who've seized the facilities.
Atop a firewatch tower, two figures walked around inside a glass box with sweeping views of the Harney Basin. From the vantage point of a car, the occupied refuge buildings that have captivated the national attention were hidden behind a hill. The entry road to the refuge was barred by a truck parked perpendicularly. Two other pickup trucks were ahead in line, the occupants being questioned.
After ten minutes, Jason Patrick came over and kneeled by the driver's side door. On his belt was a solid metal badge that read, "Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms: Gun Permit U.S.A."... We said we were from The Raw Story and other reporters informed us there was a daily press conference at 11 a.m... Patrick...a fixture at the occupation initiated by Ammon and Ryan Bundy on Jan.2, explained the pressers were now once a week on Wednesday, but we could come into the occupied refuge.
"You can walk around, just don't go into any buildings without permission. There's different meetings happening. You can take photos, but ask permission."Excuse me, but those are MY buildings.
The facilities include about a dozen buildings and structures along a dirt road, part of which the occupiers paved with gravel this week, much to the consternation of officials involved in archaeological preservation...Asshats. The wildlife that calls the refuge home is being afforded the same amount of care; just ask Ryan Bundy who told the media, "You know how many endangered species we're dealing with on our ranch right now? Zero, because it doesn't matter any more."
Four men in a circle offered tense greetings. Most wore camo gear, one had a patch sewn on his jacket with writing about defending the constitution, and a hefty gentlemen with a beard and mirrored shades, who later identified himself as "Rino," took the lead. He said reporters were no longer free to come and go. They must make an appointment and provide their name, phone number and outlet.What are they going to do, send someone in a government earthmover to kidnap a reporter if he writes something that hurts their feelings?
After handing Rino our information, we walked down the road... On the outside (of one building) a hand-drawn sign read "Drop Off," inside were cots, sleeping bags, a heater, personal gear, and a large arc welder.
Sitting by the shed was an ATV with government plates and tires half-wet, indicating it had been recently used...
...Nick (from Missouri) walked by. "I am here for the Constitution. Finally someone is standing up to defend freedom."
Nick believed one day soon soldiers like him would be ordered by the feds to invade the homes of fellow Americans. "Are we going to follow their orders?" When it was suggested the soldiers could go AWOL, he responded, "We need the soldiers to stay in their unit. They know who the bad guys are, and then turn around and kill them."What the hell? Is that what "freedom" looks like in Bundyland?
"I had to be here... Jesus said sell your coat and buy a sword."Oh, yeah, no right-wing affair is complete until Jesus shows up.
A couple of hours walking around and talking to supporters of Ammon and Ryan Bundy indicated there were at least 30 occupiers, if not significantly more, and many arrived in the last few days from all over the country... Robert, a father of six from Idaho, said, "I would support this to the death, literally."I'm sure Bob's kids are proud of him.
Okay, this compound is 30 miles from the nearest town and from what I've read, there is one access road into the refuge that the Bundy Brigade controls. I find it difficult to believe that our government law enforcers can't close off roads further out from the refuge to stop people from joining these militants. The longer the feds spend watching and waiting, the stronger these bozos get. They let Clive Bundy get away with it, so now the Bundy family thinks they're invincible; and they're attracting every idiot with a grudge.
Self-proclaimed spokesperson LaVoy Finicum already made a trip to Utah (and back) to work up enthusiasm for a similar standoff in that state. How many militias will it take before our tax dollars are used to stop this?
Badges, patches, and pocket constitutions were standard issue, as were open weapons (like) a handgun strapped to a thigh, an Uzi dangling over the shoulder, an antique revolved holstered on the hip...
...Scott Willingham, 48, strode down the road, scanning both sides as he grasped an AR-15 with the barrel pointed down, loaded with "NATO ammo, 5.56." The pouches on a green utility belt were full, a radio was clipped to the left shoulder of his vest that was covered in patches from state militias, a camo 12-gauge shotgun was slung over his right shoulder...Look at me! I have a gun! Oh, yeah? I have two and an ammo belt! We're important! You can tell because we have badges and camo, and everything!
Aren't these yahoos a little old to be playing soldier?
...Many militants described the occupation as a transformational experience. They say it's a life-changing and mind-opening education as to how tyranny is trampling on freedom and why their armed rebellion is redeeming the land, Constitution, and America itself.Hello, I'm an American too, and the only tyranny I feel is you. My freedom was just fine 'til you showed up...well, except for the GOP's attempt to occupy my vagina, but I don't need an occupation to fight that, thank you.
Before joining the occupation...Jon Ritzheimer said Ammon Bundy "spent hours and hours and hours begging and pleading with the sheriff (of Harney County), trying to educate them and empower them." Ryan Bundy indicated education was part of their mission as well. During a 90-minute conversation that afternoon in the cab of his pickup truck, across a cupholder nestling two magazines loaded with .223 ammunition, Bundy said education needed to happen in Harney County for it to stand on its own feet before the occupying militia would be able to leave.In a democracy, the majority rules. The majority of Harney County has told you they want you to leave. Even the rancher whose property is on the other side of the fence you tore down wants nothing to do with you. He didn't thank you for the extra work and expense of rebuilding that fence to keep his cattle where he wants them. The people of Harney County are not helpless. They have not asked for your assistance. They have stood on their own feet and made it clear they have no interest in being educated or empowered by you. The U.S. of A. is a democracy. You have been outvoted. If any of this is confusing to you, look it up in one of those pocket Constitutions you all seem to be carrying.
Some came for practical reasons. Adrian, a baby-faced 36-year-old rancher and father of three, runs 100 head of cattle on 34,000 acres of National Forest Service land in Southwest, New Mexico, but "they won't permit me any more."I'm in tears at the injustice. One man, one ranch, and only 34,000 acres of federal land at his disposal. The unfairness of it all!
Everyone at the occupation agreed the conflict was about the Constitution. But that is apparently the strategy of the Bundys. The brothers are said to carefully vet those allowed inside...The Bundys want free land, all the free land they can get; and they aren't above using these other hangers-on if it will get them what they think they deserve. The Constitution is a slogan to them, nothing more.
...A Caterpillar forklift roared by, hauling railroad ties. (An occupier) said it wasOnce again, what are the feds waiting for? Getting them out is not going to get any easier.
probably for a barricade. "If we could put up a fence to protect ourselves that would be beneficial. It's good to hide behind."...
At the end of the road was a mess hall outfitted with an upside-down American flag. Nearly a dozen militants were out back chatting, gathered around a small wood fire. A few feet away others dug through a box of mail, throwing items, mainly sex toys, into an oil drum fire.How are these people getting mail? If they drive into the Post Office, ARREST THEM! If the Post Office is delivering mail to them, STOP THEM. And while we're at it, turn off their landlines and WiFi too. This is not rocket science, folks.
The mood started to curdle. "Mama Bear," one of at least a half-dozen women present, repeatedly warned she didn't want any reporting "to put us in danger." She specifically asked us not to mention the barrel of flaming dildos. It is unclear how knowledge of that would put them at risk for anything more than internet ridicule.
Blaine Cooper and Jon Ritzheimer appeared by the firepit. There was a barrage of accusations. The Raw Story was spreading slander, false claims, propaganda about the Malheur occupation... Cooper focused on his notoriety. "You know who I am. You know I'm Blaine Cooper," he said multiple times. I answered truthfully; I had head the name but knew little more.Pity Blaine Cooper, a man suffering from Legend-in-His-Own-Mind Syndrome.
The crowd melted away as did respect for freedom of the press. Rino fumbled with the now-crumpled note I handed him earlier, thrusting it toward my face. "I have your name. I know your number... I am your full-time escort. You are not to ask anyone any questions. You are being recorded."Oooooooooo.
Ryan Bundy was close by. He called us over. "Would you like to ask me some questions? Jump in my truck, we'll take a slow drive." We climbed aboard. Rino's mouth opened and closed without uttering a word, as if his prey had wriggled away. From up in the cab, Rino looked smaller. He seemed confused, walking in one direction and then the other. Ryan eased the truck down the muddy road.A week ago, Ammon Bundy was looking for a place to meet with Harney County officials to discuss the end of the occupation. When the county would not allow him access to any county building, he canceled. Taking your ball and going home when everyone won't play by rules you like. That's the level of maturity the county is dealing with.
They won't be happy until they have their own kingdom. When that happens, maybe we can get President Sanders to build a wall around it and leave them to it.
You can read Mr. Gupta's entire article here