An armed militia group took over a federal building in Burns, Oregon on Saturday night, following a massive protest against the impending incarceration of two local ranchers.
The group, joined by Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, stormed the unoccupied Malheur Wildlife Refuge and seized control. The group claims it intends to stay on the federal property for “years” and is demanding the government relinquish control of the Malheur National Forest, currently under the jurisdiction of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
The occupation comes after more than 300 people marched through Burns, Oregon to protest the arrests of Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammon Jr. and Steven Hammond. The pair were convicted in 2012 for the intentional torching of federal property in 2001, which destroyed upward of 139 acres of land.
There may be as many as 100 militia men in the Wildlife Refuge headquarters. No hostages have been taken, but Bundy's brother Ryan says the group will resort to violence if necessary.
In a phone call, Ammon Bundy said,
This facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds… The best possible outcome is that the ranchers that have been kicked out of the area, they will come back and reclaim their land, and the wildlife refuge will be shut down forever and the deferral government will relinquish such control. What we're doing is not rebellious. What we're doing is in accordance with the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.
In a video posted to his Facebook account, Bundy called for supporters to arm themselves and join the militia at the wildlife refuge.
Law enforcement officials have yet to comment, but sources say multiple agencies, including the FBI, are involved.
Read more here and stay tuned for updates.