Under Attack By Obama's Feds
The feds, which the many believe are operating outside the law, are trying to jail two men without
HISTORY: The Harney Basin in Oregon (were the Hammond ranch is established) was settled in the 1870’s. The valley was settled by multiple ranchers and was known to have run over 300,000 head of cattle. These ranchers developed a state of the art irrigated system to water the meadows, and it soon became a favorite stopping place for migrating birds on their annual trek north.
In 1908 President Theodor Roosevelt, in a political scheme, create an “Indian reservation” around the Malheur, Mud & Harney Lakes and declared it “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds”. Later this “Indian reservation” (without Indians) became the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. These actions were flatly unconstitutional as explained later in this story.
In 1964 the Hammonds purchased their ranch in the Harney Basin. The purchase included approximately 6000 acres of private property, 4 grazing rights on public land, a small ranch house and 3 water rights. The ranch is around 53 miles South of Burns, Oregon.
By the 1970’s nearly all the ranches adjacent to the Blitzen Valley were purchased by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and added to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge covers over 187,000 acres and stretches over 45 miles long and 37 miles wide. The expansion of the refuge grew and surrounds to the Hammond’s ranch. Being approached many times by the FWS, the Hammonds refused to sell. Other ranchers also choose not to sell.
During the 1970’s the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), took a different approach to get the ranchers to sell. Ranchers were told that, “grazing was detrimental to wildlife and must be reduced.” 32 out of 53 permits were revoked and many ranchers were forced to leave. Grazing fees were raised significantly for those who were allowed to remain. Refuge personnel took over the irrigation system claiming it as their own.
By 1980 a conflict was well on its way over water allocations on the adjacent privately owned Silvies Plain. The FWS wanted to acquire the ranch lands on the Silvies Plain to add to their already vast holdings. Refuge personnel intentionally diverted the water to bypass the vast meadowlands, directing the water into the rising Malheur Lakes. Within a few short years the surface area of the lakes doubled. Thirty-one ranches on the Silvies plains were flooded. Homes, corrals, barns and graze-land were washed a way and destroyed by this deliberate government act. The ranchers that once fought to keep the FWS from taking their land, now broke and destroyed, begged the FWS to acquire their useless ranches. In 1989 the waters began to recede and now the once thriving privately owned Silvies pains are a proud part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge claimed by the FWS.
By the 1990’s the Hammonds were one of the very few ranchers that still owned private property adjacent to the refuge. Susie Hammond in an effort to make sense of what was going on began compiling facts about the refuge. In a hidden public record she found a study that was done by the FWS in 1975. The study showed that the “no use” policies of the FWS on the refuge were causing the wildlife to leave the refuge and move to private property. The study showed that the private property adjacent to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge produced 4 times more ducks and geese than the refuge did. It also showed that the migrating birds were 13 times more likely to land on private property than on the refuge. When Susie brought this to the attention of the FWS and refuge personnel, her and her family became the subjects of a long train of abuses and corruptions.
In the early 1990’s the Hammonds filed on a livestock water source and obtained a deed for the water right from the State of Oregon. When the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) found out that the Hammonds obtained new water rights near the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge, they were agitated and became belligerent and vindictive towards the Hammonds. The US Fish and Wildlife Service challenged the Hammonds right to the water in an Oregon State Circuit Court. The court found that the Hammonds legally obtained rights to the water in accordance to State law and therefore the use of the water belongs to the Hammonds.*
In August 1994 the BLM & FWS illegally began building a fence around the Hammonds water source. Owning the water rights and knowing that their cattle relied on that water source daily the Hammonds tried to stop the building of the fence. The BLM & FWS called the Harney County Sheriff department and had Dwight Hammond (Father) arrested and charged with “disturbing and interfering with” federal officials or federal contractors (two counts, each a felony). He spent one night in the Deschutes County Jail in Bend, and a second night behind bars in Portland before he was hauled before a federal magistrate and released without bail. A hearing on the charges was postponed and the federal judge never set another date.
The FWS also began restricting access to upper pieces of the Hammond’s private property. In order to get to the upper part of the Hammond’s ranch they had to go on a road that went through the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge. The FWS began barricading the road and threatening the Hammonds if they drove through it. The Hammonds removed the barricades and gates and continued to use their right of access. The road was proven later to be owned by the County of Harney. This further enraged the BLM & FWS.
Shortly after the road & water disputes, the BLM & FWS arbitrarily revoked the Hammond’s upper grazing permit without any given cause, court proceeding or court ruling. As a traditional “fence out state” Oregon requires no obligation on the part of an owner to keep his or her livestock within a fence or to maintain control over the movement of the livestock. The Hammonds intended to still use their private property for grazing. However, they were informed that a federal judge ruled, in a federal court, that the federal government did not have to observe the Oregon fence out law. “Those laws are for the people, not for them.”
The Hammonds were forced to either build and maintain miles of fences or be restricted from the use of their private property. Cutting their ranch in almost half, they could not afford to fence the land, so the cattle were removed.
The Hammonds experienced many years of financial hardship due to the ranch being diminished; all of it forced upon them by ILLEGAL acts of the FWS. The Hammonds had to sell their ranch and home in order to purchase another property that had enough grass to feed their cattle. This property included two grazing rights on public land. Those were also arbitrarily revoked later.
The owner of the Hammond’s original ranch passed away from a heart attack and the Hammonds made a trade for the ranch back.
In the early fall of 2001, Steven Hammond (Son) called the fire department, informing them that he was going to be performing a routine prescribed burn on their ranch. Later that day he started a prescribed fire on their private property. The fire went onto public land and burned 127 acres of grass. The Hammonds put the fire out themselves. There was no communication about the burn from the federal government to the Hammonds at that time. Prescribed fires are a common method that Native Americans and ranchers have used in the area to increase the health & productivity of the land for many centuries.
In 2006 a massive lightning storm started multiple fires that joined together inflaming the countryside. To prevent the fire from destroying their winter range and possibly their home, Steven Hammond (Son) started a backfire on their private property. The backfire was successful in putting out the lightning fires that had covered thousands of acres within a short period of time. The backfire saved much of the range and vegetation needed to feed the cattle through the winter. Steven’s mother, Susan Hammond said: “The backfire worked perfectly, it put out the fire, saved the range and possibly our home”.
The next day federal agents went to the Harney County Sheriff’s office and filled a police report making accusation against Dwight and Steven Hammond for starting the backfire. A few days after the backfire a Range-Con from the Burns District BLM office asked Steven if he would meet him in town (Frenchglen) for coffee. Steven accepted. When leaving he was arrested by the Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup and BLM Ranger Orr. Sheriff Glerup then ordered him to go to the ranch and bring back his father. Both Dwight and Steven were booked and on multiple Oregon State charges. The Harney County District Attorney reviewed the accusation, evidence and charges, and determined that the accusations against Dwight & Steven Hammond did not warrant prosecution and dropped all the charges.
In 2011, 5 years after the police report was taken, the U.S. Attorney Office accused Dwight and Steven Hammond of completely different charges, they accused them of being “Terrorists” under the Federal Antiterrorism Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. This act carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of death. Dwight & Steven’s mug shots were all over the news the next week posing them as “Arsonists”. Susan Hammond (Wife & Mother) said: “I would walk down the street or go in a store, people I had known for years would take extreme measures to avoid me”.
Shortly after the sentencing, Capital Press ran a story about the Hammonds. A person who identified as Greg Allum posted three comments on the article, calling the ranchers “clowns” who endangered firefighters and other people in the area while burning valuable rangeland. Greg Allum, a retired BLM heavy equipment operator, soon called Capital Press to complain that he had not made those comments and request that they be taken down from the website. Capital Press removed the comments. A search of the Internet Protocol address associated with the comments revealed it is owned by the BLM’s office in Denver, Colorado. Allum said, he is friends with the Hammonds and was alerted to the comments by neighbors who knew he wouldn’t have written them. “I feel bad for them. They lost a lot and they’re going to lose more,” Allum said of the ranchers. “They’re not terrorists. There’s this hatred in the BLM for them, and I don’t get it,” The retired BLM employee said. Jody Weil, deputy state director for communications at BLM’s Oregon office, indicated to reporters that if one of their agents falsified the comments, they would keep it private and not inform the public.
In September 2006, Dwight & Susan Hammond’s home was raided. The agents informed the Hammonds that they were looking for evidence that would connect them to the fires. The Hammonds later found out that a boot print and a tire tracks were found near one of the many fires. No matching boots or tires were found in the Hammonds home or on their property. Susan Hammond (Wife) later said; ” I have never felt so violated in my life. We are ranchers not criminals”. Steven Hammond openly maintains his testimony that he started the backfire to save the winter grass from being destroyed and that the backfire ended up working so well it put out the fire entirely altogether.
During the trial proceedings, Federal Court Judge Michael Hogan did not allow time for certain testimonies and evidence into the trail that would exonerate the Hammonds. Federal prosecuting attorney, Frank Papagni, was given full access for 6 days. He had ample time to use any evidence or testimony that strengthened the demonization of the Hammonds. The Hammonds attorney was only allowed 1 day. Much of the facts about the fires, land and why the Hammonds acted the way they did was not allowed into the proceedings and was not heard by the jury. For example, Judge Hogan did not allow time for the jury to hear or review certified scientific findings that the fires improved the health and productivity of the land. Or, that the Hammonds had been subject to vindictive behavior by multiple federal agencies for years.
Federal attorney Frank Papagni, hunted down a witness that was not mentally capable to be a credible witness. Dusty Hammond (grandson and nephew) testified that Steven told him to start a fire. He was 13 at the time and 24 when he testified (11 years later). At 24 Dusty had been suffering with mental problems for many years. He had estranged his family including his mother. Judge Hogan noted that Dusty’s memories as a 13-year-old boy were not clear or credible. He allowed the prosecution to continually use Dusty’s testimony anyway. When speaking to the Hammonds about this testimony, they understood that Dusty was manipulated and expressed nothing but love for their troubled grandson.
Judge Michael Hogan & Frank Papagni tampered with the jury many times throughout the proceedings, including during the selection process. Hogan & Papagni only allowed people on the jury who did not understand the customs and culture of the ranchers or how the land is used and cared for in the Diamond Valley. All of the jurors had to drive back and forth to Pendleton everyday. Some drove more than two hours each way. By day 8 they were exhausted and expressed desires to be home.
On the final day, Judge Hogan kept pushing them to make a verdict. Several times during deliberation, Judge Hogan pushed them to make a decision. Judge Hogan also would not allow the jury to hear what punishment could be imposed upon an individual that has convicted as a terrorist under the 1996 act. The jury, not understanding the customs and cultures of the area, influenced by the prosecutors for 6 straight days, very exhausted, pushed for a verdict by the judge, unaware of the ramification of convicting someone as a terrorist, made a verdict and went home.
June 22, 2012, Dwight and Steven were found guilty of starting both the 2001 and the 2006 fires by the jury. However, the federal courts convicted them both as “Terrorist” under the 1996 Antiterrorism Act. Judge Hogan sentenced Dwight (Father) to 3 months in prison and Steven (son) to 12 months in federal prison. They were also stipulated to pay $400,000 to the BLM. Hogan overruling the minimum terrorist sentence, commenting that if the full five years were required it would be a violation of the 8th amendment (cruel and unusual punishment). The day of the sentencing Judge Hogan retired as a federal judge. In his honor the staff served chocolate cake in the courtroom.
On January 4,, 2013, Dwight and Steven reported to prison. They fulfilled their sentences, (Dwight 3 months, Steven 12 months). Dwight was released in March 2013 and Steven, January 2014.
Sometime in June 2014, Rhonda Karges, Field Manager for the BLM, and her husband Chad Karges, Refuge Manager for the Malheur Wildlife Refuge (which surrounds the Hammond ranch), along with attorney Frank Papagni exemplifying further vindictive behavior by filing an appeal with the 9th District Federal Court seeking Dwight’s and Steven’s return to federal prison for the entire 5 years.*
In October 2015, the 9th District Court “resentenced” Dwight and Steven, requiring them to return to prison for several more years. Steven (46) has a wife and 3 children. Dwight (74) will leave Susan (74) to be alone after 55 years of marriage. If he survives, he will be 79 when he is released.
During the court preceding the Hammonds were forced to grant the BLM first right of refusal. If the Hammonds ever sold their ranch they would have to sell it to the BLM.
Dwight and Steven are ordered to report to federal prison again on January 4th, 2016 to begin their re-sentencing. Both their wives will have to manage the ranch for several years without them.
To date they have paid $200,000 to the BLM, and the remainder $200,000 had to be paid before the end of 2015. If the Hammonds did not pay the fines to the BLM, they will be forced to sell the ranch to the BLM or face further prosecution.
The bottom line: The federal government, using gang-like tactics and force, are stealing land from American citizens and throwing them in jail as "terrorists" to punish them for refusing to bow to the government. This is how the mafia operates!
FEDERAL COMPLEX SEIZED
The Bundy family of Nevada joined with hard-core militiamen Saturday to take over the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, vowing to occupy the remote federal outpost 50 miles southeast of Burns - pictured below - for years.
The occupation came shortly after an estimated 300 marchers – militia and local citizens both – paraded through Burns to protest the prosecution of two Harney County ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, who are to report to prison Monday.
The story could set the stage for a western-style soap opera.
“I call it ‘as the sagebrush burns,’” said Erin Maupin of the long and storied history involving the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), special interest groups and the cattle ranchers on the Steens Mountain of Oregon.
The latest scene involved two ranchers being sentenced to five years in federal prison for inadvertantly burning about 140 acres of BLM rangeland in two separate fires, years ago. That is an area big enough to feed about three cow-calf pairs for a year in that neck of the woods.
Dwight, 73 and son Steven, 46, admitted in a 2012 court case, to lighting two different fires. Both fires started on Hammonds’ private property. An August lightening storm started numerous fires and a burn ban was in effect while BLM firefighters fought those fires. Despite the ban, without permission or notification to BLM, Steven Hammond started several “back fires” in an attempt to save the ranch’s winter feed. The "back burn" fire break worked and protected the Hammond's ranch. BLM firefighters saw the back-burn and called it into their headquarters as an "arson."
Sadly, wind drove the back-burn onto federal land, on which the Hammonds paid for grazing rights. Despite this, the US Attorney for Oregon prosecuted the two men, saying they committed arson against federal property along with nine other charges. The jury convicted the men of only two charges, starting the fires they readily admitted to starting.
Arson against federal property calls for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years prison. The Hammonds argued that such minimum mandatory sentences were unconstitutional and a judge agreed. He sentenced the two men to LESS than the five years. Not satisfied, the US Attorney appealed and the Ninth US Circuit ordered the District Court to re-sentence the men in accordance with the statute.
The first, in 2001, was a planned burn on Hammonds’ own property to reduce juniper trees that have become invasive in that part of the country. That fire burned outside the Hammonds’ private property line and took in 138 acres of unfenced BLM land before the Hammonds got it put out. NoBLM firefighters were needed to help extinguish the fire and no fences were damaged.
Dwight’s wife Susan shared some crucial details in an exclusive interview with SuperStation95.
“They called and got permission to light the fire,” she said, adding that was customary for ranchers conducting range management burns – a common practice in the area.
“We usually called the interagency fire outfit – a main dispatch – to be sure someone wasn’t in the way or that weather would be a problem.” Susan said her son Steven was told that the BLM was conducting a burn of their own somewhere in the region that very same day, but that they believed there would be no problem with the Hammonds going ahead with their planned fire. The court transcript includes the same information in a recording from that phone conversation.
In cross-examination of a prosecution witness, the court transcript also includes admission from Mr. Ward, a range conservationist that the 2001 fire improved the rangeland conditions on BLM.
Maupin, a former range technician and watershed specialist who resigned from the BLM in 1999, said that collaborative burns between private ranchers and the BLM had become popular in the late 1990s because local university extension researchers were recommending it as a means to manage invasive juniper that steal water from grass and other cover.
“Juniper encroachment had become an issue on the forefront and was starting to come to a head. We were trying to figure out how to deal with it on a large scale,” said the woman whose family also neighbored the Hammonds for a couple of years.
“In 1999, the BLM started to try to do large scale burn projects. We started to be successful on the Steens Mountain especially when we started to do it on a large watershed scale as opposed to trying to follow property lines.”
Because private and federal land is intermingled, collaborative burns were much more effective than individual burns that would cover a smaller area, Maupin said.
Susan said the second fire, in 2006, was a backfire started by Steven to protect their property from lightening fires.
“There was fire all around them that was going to burn our house and all of our trees and everything. The opportunity to set a back-fire was there and it was very successful. It saved a bunch of land from burning,” she remembers.
The BLM asserts that one acre of federal land was burned by the Hammonds’ backfire and Susan says determining which fire burned which land is “a joke” because fire burned from every direction.
Neighbor Ruthie Danielson also remembers that evening and agrees. “Lightening strikes were everywhere, fires were going off,” she said.
Maupin said prescribed burns to manage juniper were common in the late 1990s and early 2000s, best done late in the fall when the days are cooler.
Prescribed burns on federal land in their area have all but stopped due to pressure from “special interest groups,” Maupin said. As a result, wildfires now burn much hotter due to a “ladder” of material on the ground – grass, brush and trees.
“The fires now burn really hot and they sterilize the ground. Then you have a weed patch that comes back.”
Maupin said planned burning in cooler weather like the Hammonds chose to do improves the quality of the forage, and makes for better sage grouse habitat by removing juniper trees that suck up water and house raptors – a sage grouse predator.
After 34 years working for the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon, Rusty Inglis resigned from his position with the federal government and now ranches about 40 miles from the Hammonds and is unique in the area – he has no federal land permits and operates strictly on private land.
“The Hammond family is not arsonists. They are number one, top notch. They know their land management.”
Inglis, president of his county Farm Bureau organization and a member of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association said both groups are working to help gain media attention for the Hammond case. The state Farm Bureau group gathered signatures online for a petition to show widespread support for the family. “Enough is enough. We are not in Nazi Germany. We are in the United States of America.”
The Hammonds were charged with 9 counts in the original court case.
The BLM accused the Hammonds of several 2006 fires, including a large one known as the Granddad, which blazed about 46,000 acres.
According to the 2012 sentencing document, the jury found the men innocent or were deadlocked on all but two counts – the two fires the men admitted to starting – burning a total of about 140 acres.
Judge Hogen dismissed testimony from a disgruntled grandson who testified that the 2001 fire endangered his life and that of local hunters, saying the boy was very young and referencing a feud that may have influenced the testimony.
“Well, the damage was juniper trees and sagebrush, and there might have been a hundred dollars.” He added.
More to the story?
During her tenure with as a full time BLM employee from 1997-1999, Maupin recalls other fires accidentally spilling over onto BLM land, but only the Hammonds have been charged, arrested and sentenced, she said. Ranchers might be burning invasive species or maybe weeds in the ditch. “They would call and the BLM would go and help put it out and it was not big deal.”
On the flip side, Maupin remembers numerous times that BLM-lit fires jumped to private land. Neighbors lost significant numbers of cattle in more than one BLM fire that escaped intended containment lines and quickly swallowed up large amounts of private land. To her knowledge, no ranchers have been compensated for lost livestock or other loss of property such as fences.
Gary Miller, who ranches near Frenchglen, about 35 miles from the Hammonds’ hometown, said that in 2012, the BLM lit numerous backfires that ended up burning his private land, BLM permit and killed about 65 cows.
A youtube.com video named BLM Working at Burning Frenchglen-July 10, 2012 shows “back burn” fires allegedly lit by BLM personnel that are upwind of the main fire, including around Gary Miller’s corrals. The fire that appeared ready to die down several times, eventually burned around 160,000 acres, Miller said.
Bill Wilber, a Harney County rancher, said five lightening strikes on July 13, 2014, merged to create a fire on Bartlett Mountain. The fire flew through his private ground, burned a BLM allotment and killed 39 cows and calves.
While the fire could have been contained and stopped, BLM restrictions prevent local firefighting efforts like building a fireline, so only after taking in 397,000 acres did the fire finally stop when it came up against a series of roads.
Two South Dakota prescribed burns, ignited by the U.S. Forest Service, blew out of control, burning thousands of acres of federal and private land in 2013. Ranchers that suffered extensive property damage from the Perkins County, South Dakota, “Pautre fire,” filed tort claims in accordance with federal requirements, but will receive no compensation because USDA found the U.S. Forest Service not responsible for that fire.
Why the Hammonds?
“The story is like an onion, you just keep peeling back the layers,” Maupin said.
In an effort to stave off what they feared was a pending Clinton/Babbitt monument designation in 2000, a group of ranchers on the scenic Steens Mountain worked with Oregon Representative Greg Walden, a republican, to draft and enact the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act that would prevent such a deed. The ranchers agreed to work with special interest “environmental” groups like the aggressive Oregon Natural Desert Association and others to protect the higher-than 10,000 foot breathtaking peak.
A number of ranchers at the top of the mountain traded their BLM permits and private property for land on the valley floor, allowing the anti-grazing groups to create a 170,000 acre wilderness, with almost 100,000 acres being “cow-free.”
“The last holdouts on that cow-free wilderness were the Hammonds,” explained Maupin. And because the Hammonds have large chunks of private property in the heart of the cooperative management area, they carried a target on their backs.
“It’s become more and more obvious over the years that that the BLM and the wildlife refuge wanted that ranch. It would tie in with what they have,” said Inglis.
The Hammonds also lost their ability to water cattle on one BLM permit when refuge personnel drained a watering hole that the Hammonds had always used.
Maupin said the government scientists and resource managers working “on the ground” supported the Hammonds’ use of the water but that the high level bureaucrats backed special interest anti-grazing groups. “There is a huge disconnect between employees on the ground and the decision-makers,” she said, building tension between ranchers and federal agencies.
In the Hammonds’ plea agreement in the 2012 trial, the BLM obtained the first right of refusal should the family have to sell their land and BLM leases, Maupin added.
The Maupins themselves had a small lease that also bordered the “cow-free wilderness” and the Oregon Natural Desert Association was “relentless in their pursuit to have us off, in order to expand the cow-free wilderness,” Maupin said. The group would criticize the ranchers’ water usage, causing them to pipe water to their cattle, which in turn instigated more complaints from the group.
Eventually the Maupins sold their permit and moved.
But the Hammonds remained.
Steve and Dwight Hammond are sheduled to turn themselves in for their prison sentences next week but there is a severe Constitutional problem with their entire case: The federal government is not authorized to own or manage the land involved in this affair! Thus, it was patently illegal for the feds to have ever prosecuted these men and thrown them in jail. Even worse, after the men served their sentences, the government came back to court to have them jailed LONGER! That's what is set to begin this coming week! THAT is why the militia is stepping-up; because the feds are running roughshod over the Constitution. They are exercising power they do not have and ignoring the constitution. Some view the federal government as having become tyrants.
The Hammond family has sold their cattle. Their BLM permit has not been renewed for two years, leaving them unable to use even a large amount of intermingled private land.
The family is in the “last challenge” to re-obtain their grazing permit. “I don’t know what happens after that,” Susan said. “We have done everything according to their rules and regulations and there is no reason that they should not give us back our permit.”
The new, five-year prison sentence sets a worrisome precedent for area ranchers, Maupin said.
“Now the sky is the limit. It doesn’t have to be fire, it can be trespass with cattle.”
Another precedent – one for fire that burns beyond expectations – should apply to everyone, including federal employees, though, Maupin points out.
Susan Hammond isn’t sure where to go from here.
“We’ve been fighting it for five years. We don’t want to destroy people as we are fighting it even if it is a BLM employee,” she said, “They live in our community and they have families. We respect that.” The situation could get even more ugly but that “it’s not going to be our fault,” she said.
Maupin talked about the Hammonds helping her and her husband with ranch work, like hauling cattle, lending portable panels and never expecting anything in return. Wilber recalled them hauling 4-H calves to the fair for neighbors and Inglis said Dwight once offered to lend him money because he thought he needed help. “Here’s a guy with $400,000 in fines and legal bills I can’t imagine, worrying about my welfare,” said Inglis.
“I think that’s the biggest point of all of this – how can you prosecute people as terrorists when they aren’t a terrorist?”
Which brings us to today . . .
Several hundred armed Patriots from various Militia have now seized the federal wildlife refuge and its buildings. Instead of the feds getting the Hammond Ranch, the feds have now lost their wildlife refuge. The Militia have brought trailer loads of supplies and plan to keep control of the federal wildlife area "for years."
Among the occupiers is Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and two of his brothers. Militia members at the refuge claimed they had as many as 150 supporters with them. The refuge was closed and unoccupied for the weekend.
In phone interviews from inside the occupied building Saturday night, Ammon Bundy and his brother, Ryan Bundy, said they are not looking to hurt anyone. But they would not rule out violence if law enforcement tries to remove them, they said, though they declined to elaborate.
"The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds," Ammon Bundy said.
"We're planning on staying here for years, absolutely," he added. "This is not a decision we've made at the last minute."
Neither would say how many people are in the building or whether they are armed. Ryan Bundy said the group would release a statement shortly.
"We will do whatever it takes to maintain our freedom," he said.
Government sources told SuperStation95 that the militia also was planning to occupy a closed wildland fire station near the town of Frenchglen. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management posts crews there during the fire season.
Law enforcement officials so far have not commented on the situation. Oregon State Police, the Harney County Sheriff's Office and the FBI were involved.
Ammon Bundy had a video posted on his Facebook page calling on patriots from across the country should to report to the refuge – with their weapons.
Burns Protest Marchers including militia and local residents Saturday head for the Harney County Courthouse as part of a protest against government.
The dramatic turn came after other militia groups had tried to damp down community concerns they meant trouble.
Brandon Curtiss, a militia leader from Idaho, told SuperStation95 he knew nothing about the occupation. He helped organize Saturday's protest and was at the Harney County Fairgrounds with dozens of other militia for a post-parade function.
The occupation is being led by hard-core militia who adopted the Hammond cause as their own.
Ammon Bundy met with Dwight Hammond and his wife in November, seeking a way to keep the elderly rancher from having to surrender for prison. The Hammonds professed through their attorneys that they had no interest in ignoring the order to report for prison.
Ammon Bundy said the goal is to turn over federal land to local ranchers, loggers and miners. He said he met with 10 or so residents in Burns on Friday to try to recruit them, but they declined.
"We went to the local communities and presented it many times and to many different people," he said. "They were not strong enough to make the stand. So many individuals across the United States and in Oregon are making this stand. We hope they will grab onto this and realize that it's been happening."
Among those joining Bundy in the occupation are Ryan Payne, U.S. Army veteran, and Blaine Cooper. Payne has claimed to have helped organize militia snipers to target federal agents in a standoff last year in Nevada. He told one news organization the federal agents would have been killed had they made the wrong move.
He has been a steady presence in Burns in recent weeks, questioning people who were critical of the militia's presence. He typically had a holstered sidearm as he moved around the community.
At a community meeting in Burns Friday, Payne disavowed any ill intentions.
"The agenda is to uphold the Constitution. That's all," he said.
Cooper, another militia leader, said at that meeting he participated in the Bundy standoff in Nevada.
"I went there to defend Cliven with my life," Cooper said.
The Constitution Proves the Militia is RIGHT!
The militia is correct in it's interpretation of this case.
Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 17 of the U.S. Constitution, which reads as follows:
"To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings."
Based upon the Constitution itself the federal government has no actual authority over the lands that they claim the Hammonds burned. It is State land, and there is none of the above functions of the Federal government taking place that would permit federal land ownership.
And as an added note, Congress cannot lawfully add to their listed powers, jurisdiction or authority through the legislative process. That must be done by the Amendment process in the Constitution itself despite lies that saboteurs will try on you. Any so called 'act of Congress' that furthers their power in violation of the listed duties in the Constitution itself is in fact null and void as if it had never been enacted.
UPDATE 9:36 PM EST -- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy tells SuperStation95 that some 150 armed militia men have occupied federal building in Malheur County, Ore.; 3 of Bundy’s relatives reportedly involved in occupation
UPDATE 12:03 AM EST (Sunday) -- Oregon police identify the leaders of Cliven Bundy-linked millita sieging Fed building as Ben Garrison and Sam Hyde
UPDATE 12:27 AM EST (Sunday) -- The local school district in Burns announced it will keep schools closed all week because of the militia situation.
UPDATE 12:35 AM EST (Sunday) -- Oregon FBI Spokeswoman Beth Ann Steele: "We are aware of the situation. No further comment."
UPDATE 1:17 AM EST (Sunday) -- I talked to Ryan Bundy on the phone. He said they're willing to kill and be killed if necessary. Bundy said feds' actions are violation of constitution. Founding fathers were ready to die, and so are they. #OregonUnderAttack
UPDATE 1:21 AM EST (Sunday) -- Sheriff Dave Ward: "A collective effort from multiple agencies is currently working on a solution."
This is a developing story . . . check back for details.
H/T : Supersation95