This damned armed stand-off in Burns, Oregon, has got to come to an end. It’s escalating to dangerous proportions. Three more out-of-state gun-toting “patriot” groups have now joined up. It’s got to be stopped. Now!
What started as some far-right nut cases with rifles holding an isolated Oregon, federal game refuge hostage has gone from that to now drawing more right-wing seditionists from other states as a rallying point. And they’ve now taken an entire community hostage - the community of Burns.
Guys with rifles slung over their shoulders are roaming the streets at all hours. People are being directly threatened - including the elderly parents of the Harney County Sheriff. Tires were slashed on the sheriff’s personal car. Schools have been closed for two weeks. Members of a local Native American tribe are being harassed and frightened. Citizens of Burns are literally being held prisoner because of these seditionists.
There’s no local radio station in Burns - only a weekly newspaper. So, the town is filled with swirling rumors and people are having a hard time finding out what’s really going on. Social media has been the main source of information and we all know how reliable that can be.
The sheriff has been extremely patient. But, when he met with the Bundy boys last week, they refused his offer to get safely out of town until all of their “demands” are met. Demands that will never be met. At that point, it would seem, the time for patience ended.
One of the more disappointing features regarding how this situation has been allowed to fester into something more dangerous, is the seeming near non-reaction of government. At all levels. County commissioners are hiding under their blankets. They’ve publically said nothing. Oregon’s governor issued one news release saying how awful this situation is and asking the Bundys and their followers to leave. The feds have been silent. Nothing from the F-B-I except another news release saying “We’re keeping an eye on things.” The only visible law enforcement presence near the occupied federal property was when the sheriff came to talk last week and a couple of vehicles of armed folk followed him in. And silently back out.
The Bundy Bunch is in the small compound of the Harney Wildlife Refuge. They’ve moved federal heavy equipment out front as barricades if attacked. Media is corralled several hundred yards away - out of sight of the place.
The plain fact is the seditionists are free to come and go as they please. And they please a lot. They go to town to eat in local restaurants - buy five gallon cans of gas for their small generators - shop for groceries with rifles at the ready - hit the bars when they need a stiffener. One of them used social media to plead for money to supply his needs “for the struggle,” then took the proceeds to a Burns bar and got blitzed. O’Shaughnesy was his name. Stealing money is his game.
In all previous encounters with these heavily armed “constitutionalists” across the country, government has backed down. No shots fired. No one hurt. No arrests. As a result, the seditionists are getting bolder, more organized, more heavily armed and more of a threat to the rest of us. They feel emboldened each time they “face down the terrible federal monster.” And do it with impunity.
Some government entity - or all of them - needs to act. Shut these bastards down. Block all communications. Turn off all electricity. Turn off all water supplies. Overnight temperatures last week dropped to near zero in the area. No heat, no water and no way to communicate with families or other supporters can become great non-violent but effective “weapons.”
However, if a government push-back produces shots fired from inside the compound, an armed response will be necessary. Required. I’d hate to see it end that way. But these guys are nothing but criminals. They have no legitimacy in the eyes of the law. They’ve committed criminal if not seditious acts. Offered safe passage and a pat on the back, they refused. But leave they must. Peacefully or otherwise.
When I was a kid, like almost all kids everywhere, I used to push my parents and their rules. I learned where to stop just short of their response triggers. That’s what the Bundy’s and their criminal ilk are doing with our government - from county locals to the feds. All previous encounters have ended with figures of governmental authority backing down and walking away. These guys have learned to just “hang in there” because they know no one is going to move against them. But someone must.
The occupation is 30 miles outside an isolated desert community, clustered in a very small compound, well-known to local law agencies and with no non-participants that can get hurt if shots are fired. Such ideal conditions for stopping these guys cold may never exist again. This is where it can end with the least amount of casualties.
One more thing. Something that hasn’t got a lot of media attention. While overwhelming local sentiment opposes the majority governmental land ownership in the area, committees of locals and feds have worked for decades to operate together. To work out their differences. Sensible locals admit relations are better than ever and cooperation has greatly improved. Not perfect. But better. All that work, over all that time, can be blown to bits if these out-of-state terrorists walk peacefully away from this.
There’s more at stake here than getting the Bundy’s and their cretin sycophants out of the compound and out of the state peacefully. Large ruptures of many relationships in Harney County and other western states could be a terrible, long-term price to pay.
The Bundy boys have been given their chance. And then some. It’s time to get ‘em out. Or take ‘em out. Now!