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Posts tagged as “Malheur refuge”

First take/the Bundies

And now, the consequences are catching up.

Most of the leaders of the Malheur refuge standoff, arrested a couple of weeks ago, sit in jail and seem likely to stay there for a while.

The four-person remnant of the standoff said they were planning to surrender themselves this morning, as soon as the preacher Franklin Graham arrives to escort them.

And now, reports from Portland that Cliven Bundy, the ringleader of the ranchlands standoff in Nevada from two years ago, has been arrested in Portland and charged with crimes - growing out of that earlier standoff - similar to those facing his sons. The fact that he owes federal agencies (which, again, means that he owes us) about $1 million in fees and penalties. Now that he's behind bars, the effort to collect may finally be picking up.

This has been a slow process. A lot of people have been critical of the lack of Bundy crackdown after the Nevada standoff in 2014. But it's coming now.

And this has more significance than just this one case. A failure to act now would have encouraged more seizures and standoffs like this.

People thinking about doing something like this now, are more likely to think twice. - rs

First take/out

So now it's come to this: The remnant of the occupiers at the Malheur bird refuge are now pleading to just be let out.

More or less.

Though most communications from the refuge are cut off, the two Idahoans in the group, a married couple from Riggins, did get on the phone with the Idaho County sheriff, Doug Giddings. Giddings was somewhat sympathetic, saying the couple hadn't been bad actors back home. They're "have been very good citizens in Riggins. They’re not criminals — well, they are now. But they’re not some militia, this armed militia. They want the heck out of there. They never planned to be in there in the first place but now they can’t afford to leave. They have to defend themselves.”

Actually, they had the chance to leave some time ago, when not only the FBI but also the former sit-in leader, Ammon Bundy called on them to go. They declined.

What Ammon Bundy, now imprisoned in Portland, probably could and would tell them now is that actions have consequences. And maybe that the picture isn't always pretty when a fantasy construct bumps into the real world. - rs

First take/Finicum

The shooting death Tuesday evening of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, the spokesman for the group that has occupied the Malheur bird refuge in Oregon most of this month, winds up providing some thoughts and lessons, some of them unexpected.

Any shooting death is a tragedy, his included; this was a human being with family and friends entitled the same measure of dignity as any of us. But as Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo noted, it's a special shame when it happened because of his devotion to a cause that is nothing more than bonkers. He did not die in service to a real cause; he died in service to a fake one. We all should deserve better than that.

Marshall pointed out other kinds of lessons too, however: "The thing that struck me most about last night however was something very specific: social media allowed one to watch the mythology of Finicum's martyrdom emerge and congeal in real time. I never participate on Twitter anymore, not since last Spring. But I went on just to watch the stream. And within two hours you went from Bundy's third hand claim that Finicum was shot in cold blood while trying to surrender to this being heard, accepted, validated and become gospel for thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of members of the digital hard right. I cannot help but note that I spent a good deal of time checking the bios of the people who were embracing this hardest. At least half explicitly identifying themselves as Ted Cruz supporters in their Twitter bios."

The weight of evidence seems to say, as at least two witnesses (not from law enforcement) reported, that Finicum, who almost certainly was armed (the occupiers often boasted about how they were always armed and ready for conflict), "charged" the officers, and then was shot. But probably we won't have to rely on guesses or weight of evidence for long. It's hard to imagine that video of the arrest scene wasn't taken, and will make its way online.

When (presuming that) it is, a question: Will actual visual evidence matter to these people, or will it - like any other facts or evidence that doesn't fit in the world view - simply be dismissed as another massive government conspiracy?

Probably, which shows how badly our social media bubbles are serving us.

But social media also had another impact on this story, which in many parts of the media centered on the pranks being played on the occupiers. A massive Facebook group called Snacks for Y'AllQuaeda pranked them with satire (and shipments of dildoes) and turned the attempt by the occupiers to make a serious point into a national laughingstock.

One group participant reflected, "We knew what they were capable of, and how it could end, but we choose to point out the absolute ridiculousness of their beliefs and how their real life actions exposed them as hypocrites of the highest order. A collection of welfare queens, tax cheats, ex-cons, stolen valor poseurs, Sovereign Citizen, Constitutional Grand Jury, arrogant ass-turds. And I think it worked. Others recognized it too, the mainstream everyday folks. And everybody knew it was time for this idiocy in the high desert of Oregon to end."

Social media cutting in various directions. - rs

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