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First take/Burns


A whole lot of people, including us and the governor of Oregon, have been wondering when the feds (meaning principally, the FBI) would act and bring the crazy occupation at the Malheur bird refuge under control. Now finally it has, at least mostly. And the approach, if late, seems to be about what was warranted.

The feds seemed to have hoped that they could simply wait out the group and maybe make some arrests after the occupation had disbanded. From the standpoint of avoiding bloodshed, that could make some sense. But the occupation was bringing in a steady number of outsider agitators. Intimidation and outright threats to law abiding people in the Burns area were on the rise; a good many residents had fled. The place was becoming decidedly not safe, ad was getting less so. That was the situation that led Oregon Governor Kate Brown a few days ago to call on the FBI to, at long last, act.

And last night, they did. A community meeting had been set up at John Day, about an hour north of Burns (a pretty drive, by the way, if you’ve not been out to that country), and most of the occupier leaders piled into a couple of cars to go. Why not? They’ve been coming and going to Burns for weeks with impunity.

This time, though, they were stopped and arrested. (There must be scores of possible federal law violations they could be charged with, and made to stick, at this point.) There was an incident in the process; shots were fired, and the group’s spokesman was killed. Hopefully, video exists showing just what happened.

As that happened, the FBI sent out a warning: If those remaining at the bird refuge leave now, they can go home, but those that don’t will be subject to arrest. Presumably soon. (One visible occupant had fled the place for Arizona earlier Tuesday. Did he know what was coming?) Apparently, some took the FBI up on their offer. Soem didn’t.

The one death so far was unfortunate, but these were people who have been marching around the area heavily armed and proclaiming that they were willing to kill and die. They were acting like terrorists, and truly, they have bought on themselves the results emerging now.

There’s no reason for the FBI to wait much longer at the refuge. This ugly incident needs to come to a final end in the next day or two. And it can be. – rs

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